Where Fly Fishing is a Professional Passion…..

Great Week’s End Wade Fishing…..

Sunday, January 13, 2019…. Great and wade fishing, bet you haven’t heard that from me in a while.  Actually you definitely haven’t.  But I mentioned that we were headed in that direction and that while the water was high, and chilly, that things were improving steadily and we had red hot fishing ahead.  Cold hands, feet, ice on the rod, ice in the guides, and lots of fish.  Lots.  Several 20 inch plus fish.  Several.

That is exactly what longtime client David Carter and his son Adam had with me on our Friday wade fishing trip before the winter storm blew in.  Temps to start  were in the low to mid 20s, it was frigid.  As I mentioned above, Ice in the guides, on the line, cold feet, cold hands, and red hot fishing.  We did very well.  Met the guys early and we did a wade trip, we arrived mid to late morning to give the sun time to get things moving.

We caught fish right from the outset.  The water was high and chilly, and green like I love to see it, and the fish were more than cooperative.  Actually, the nymph fishing was on fire.  We lit em up on double nymph rigs, and landed probably 4 dozen rainbows, three of which were in the 22 to 25 inch range.  Pigs….

The stonefly emergence is in full swing, and small dark patterns are catching a lot of fish as they should be.  There are a host of smallish dark stones that hatch this time of year, collectively known as “little winter black stones”.  There are several species of these, Allocapnia, sp., Amphinemura, sp., Leuctra mitchellensis, Sweltsa mediana, Neoperla clymene, Amphinemura nigritta, all contribute to this activity my entomologist friends tell me.  They are often called ‘sallflies’, ‘snowflies’, ‘willowflies’, among others.  The trout do notice them though, and at lower water levels we can fish dries to them.  A great fly is a Griffith’s gnat size 18 and 20 with the hackle trimmed flat on the bottom.

Right now, the water is high making the nymph imitation a better option.  They are size 18 and 20, and can often be seen crawling on the banks or on ice and snow.  The fish love them, and you should too.  You should have some in your box regardless of where you are fishing, they are great tailwater flies, small stream flies, and great for Delayed harvest and Hatchery supported waters.   Patterns that imitate these are black copper johns, Skinny Nelson, Slim Shady, black pheasant tails tied skinny, etc.

We fished them yesterday all day, the rig consisting of a larger point fly (Y2K, Sucker Spawn, Bead Egg, Dirtsnake, etc.) and the small dark stone pattern as a dropper.  85% of our almost 50 fish ate the small dropper fly, even in the high flow.  Two of the three big fish ate the tiny fly.  Can they see the tiny fly in that much water?  You be the judge.

We fished til 130pm, had a nice hot shore lunch in the sun on the riverbank, then fished til about 415pm and called it a day.  This fishing will be great this week as we had minimal impact from the weekend’s ice and snow and rain and its going to be game on.  Best part of it?  We fished all day and not another soul on the water….had the river to ourselves.  Today is solid proof that cold weather impacts fishermen more than fish.  If you want to catch some fish and kill that cabin fever right now is an excellent time to do it, and both wade and float options will be good.

Small streams are fishing good, all the way around.  The water is down to a fishable level and clear, green clear, the type that makes for excellent nymph and streamer fishing.  The tailwaters are still blowing high flows, 3000 plus on the South Holston and 2400 – 2600 on the Watauga.  Big water yes, but the fishing has been excellent.  We have caught lots of fish on higher flows and some big browns throwing the big stuff.  Projections show this higher flow continuing, in other words, high, steady, stable flow.

Stable conditions, especially high and stable, often produce remarkable fishing.  The longer the river stays deep and swift the more fish stack up on bank structure, eddies, inside gravel bars, tops of islands, tailouts, seams, you name it.  Big fish feed and grow in these conditions, and are very receptive to meaty offerings like worms, nymphs, baitish, and large, full profile streamers.  But you gotta go to get in on it.

Going to be a great week and I do have a couple days that opened up, the most recent weather had almost zero impact from a negative standpoint in affecting water levels so its going to be a good week to fish.  Highs most days will be in the mid to upper 40s F so good in that respect.  Let’s go fly fishing!

Tight Lines….


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Some of my favorite big meat flies for large fish, all chewed up of course….. my Double L’ streamer ( Locked n Loaded, top), Tommy Lynch’s famous Drunk and Disorderly (middle), and Bunny strip leadeye crayfish (bottom).  These flies in various colors have put almost 60 20 inch plus browns in my boat over the past month and a half.



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