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Great Fishing Continues….

Tues. July 19, 2017 …. One thing is for sure, the dog days are here early.  Hot, humid, and severe sun…..that seems to be the pattern now.  It has been hot indeed, but so has fishing.  We have continued to have great smallmouth fishing as the damsels get cranked up and water levels drop.  The setup is making for some great topwater fishing, and a typical pattern….fish early and late with poppers…..and shady banks with poppers.  Go deep during the day.  On our trout trips we’ve been on the tailwaters alot…..they continue to fish great.  The heat leaves them very much unaffected by hot weather.  I’ve witnessed, guided and fished some of the best sulphur hatches in my lifetime over the past few weeks.

In fact, the best one was day before yesterday.  Yes, then.  Not in May and June when the ‘magic’ time, as good as it is, but July.  Two days ago.   There is a bizarre mix of events happening in combination that causes this to be so.  On the South Holston, we get release schedules where we have one pulse (1hr release of 1300-1400 cfs) early am like 1 or 2 am…..then another at 9am…..then full release at 3 or 4pm.   This produces water temps in mid 50s shortly after 9am….then the blazing sun and hot temps warm the dark bottom (ledges and grass) of the upper river to the low 60sF which effectively quells the hatch.  Then, when water is released at 3 or 4pm, the result is a hot bottom, chilly 50 to 52F water running over it, and mixing that brings the temp into the ideal target range of 52 to 57F.  Because it occurs in late afternoon/early evening when the bugs would come off anyway, you get a blanket emergence.  And because of the time of day the water stays in that “ideal” range for 3 to 4 hours or more.

The result?  A blanket hatch.  Tons of rising fish.  Tons.  Some of the best dry fly fishing of the year.  And on Tuesday we floated downriver in amazement that we were one of many the only, yes the only driftboat fishing the river.  4 miles of sulphurs and rising fish all to ourselves.  Some pretty good truly epic dry fly fishing.

On Monday 7/17 I guided Roger Hixson, High Point, NC,  and Dan Rominger, Belews Creek, NC, and  we did a morning to early afternoon wade trip and caught a good many fish, probably 30 to 35 or so , a mix of browns and rainbows on midge patterns, Lickety Splits, and sulphur dries.

Got a few sulphurs on the midday pulse but they were light. We had on a couple 20″ plus browns that broke off in addition. Fished to a fish that was over 25″ but he would not eat. We took a short break to eat lunch about 230/245pm and then put the boat in around 4pm to catch the sulphur hatch.

Within 45 minutes a blanket hatch was going strong, and we caught several fish to start on dries….on a couple of instances we had doubles. We fished through several pods of fish and caught one here , one there, and we had risers til probably 8pm or so….a common thing during hot weather and when the release doesn’t start til 4pm like it did today.

We hit a pod of risers in one last spot in the gorge section we were in and there were a ton of fish rising. Roger nailed one of the fish and it was a nice brown of about 17″. On that one we called it a day and headed for takeout with the heavy fog rolling in and the light fading. Great day , probably 40 -45 fish on the day so it was a great one.

Got a recent call from my friend and fly fishing writer/photographer Anthony Vinson Smith.  I have done many projects over the years with him and he started several years ago putting together a book for fly fishing in NC.  The book was released at the end of June and I just received my copy from Anthony.  Its a great book full of info and great variety.  The book covers destinations from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast.  Some great maps, useful info on each location, and some great photographs.  Anthony featured many of my fly patterns in the fly section and also did a 4 page feature, pg 78-81 on me and one of my favorite NC waters.

It is a paperback book , part of a series “No Nonsense Fly Fishing Guidebooks” and retails for $28.95.  It can be purchased at Books a Million here for $24.60.   You can also purchase a copy on Amazon  here for $19 to $23.  Anthony talks of our trip where we got into some huge rainbows on 3 weights…..great piece to read.

Have a busy rest of the week with a New River smallmouth float trip with David Horky on Thursday.  Then I’ll be doing a tailwater trip with one of my regular clients Curtis Reeves.  I’ll round out the week with a trip guiding Ian Craig on a New River smallmouth float trip.

All hike in waters in NC, TN, and VA fishing pretty well despite the heat.  DH waters I’d look elsewhere.  Smallmouth fishing is good and will continue to be so, and the only damper is that on some waters the afternoon thunderstorm game is here.  Hit or miss, some folks get drenched and some remain dry as a bone.  Tailwater fishing?  Red hot.  As good as it gets if you know where.

Also, prepping for our annual Wyoming trip….will be taking care of some final stuff and we head out on Aug 9 to Jackson Hole, WY.  Waters are shaping up and it should be a good time to be in the hills there surrounded by wild cutthroats of the best kind.

Stay cool….and hydrated.  This time of year you really have to drink plenty of fluids.  Water is hard to beat, and go light on any caffeinated stuff.  A couple of good tests are (1) you should be needing to head to the bushes once every 3 hours or so….and (2) if its difficult to spit.  The second one is very telling.   I spend a lot of time in open sun on the river , both wading and in a driftboat, and would say that if you feel wiped out at the end of the day, overly tired….my guess is you are more dehydrated than tired…. or rather being dehydrated is making you feel that way.  Just sayin’……

Have a great one…

Jeff

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Long Fish Filled Days…..

Sun. July 16, 2017 …Same summer theme its been for weeks now….long days, lots of warm weather, and a ton of fish.  The past week has been a mixed bag both in terms of location and species.  I started off the week doing two smallmouth floats, and finished up the week with three trout trips.  Busy week, and great fishing.  And while we’ve continued our streak of getting rained on on our trout trips….to the tune of 95% of the last two months…. it wasn’t as wet as in weeks’ past and we fished right through all of it.  Great fishing also…… With warmer temps and rain lessening water levels are falling .  This is good news for smallmouth fly anglers, and also good news for those who delight in low water fishing with terrestrials.  Both tend to be great when we have our lower water levels.

On July 10 I took my youngest son Josh & Justin Iocona, Stokesdale, NC, VA on a New R smallmouth float.  Got an early start with the heat, and caught some fish to start, including a couple that would be the best ones of the day. Caught a good many fish on top today.

That is just turning on, and flow was at 2900cfs….the topwater fishing will do nothing but get red hot with flows being reduced. The guys fished hard and we fished til dusk, making to takeout…good day, probably 35 smallmouth on the float trip today…..and with the river dropping the excellent popper fishing when the damsels get active….the fishing the river is known for…. the popper fishing will only get better and better.

On Tuesday July 11, I did a guided  2 boat trip, Jim Noble Group, Charlotte, NC, Va New R Smallmouth Float, two boat float trip with Jim Noble, JP Grice, Joe Haubenhofer, and Bo Buxton….we put the boats in and immediately , caught a few small smallies to start and worked our way downstream to a favorite spot of mine. Both Joe and Bo got a really good one, probably best ones of the day.

We worked our way downriver and caught some more on poppers. Joe had three musky follows and caught two very nice  fish. We took a break and had lunch on a mid river bar and after lunch we continued down the river and spent the afternoon throwing poppers and did pretty well.

Lots of bass on top, and lots of surface feeding activity. And its just now really turning on. We did well scoring probably 40 to 50 smallmouths and 1 musky….and Joe had one other musky hooked that he played for a while until the hook pulled free. We arrived to takeout just before dusk. Great day…..and this fishing will only get better.

On July 12 and 13 I guided trips, combination wade/float trips with Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, Bob Schwirzke, Fayetteville , NC, on the TN tailwaters.   We had a great two days we wade fished mornings on both days and it was a little slow the first morning but we had a killer afternoon float and caught a gazillion fish on dries, a 15 or so fish morning ended with a few dry fly browns.

The afternoon float was amazing, we got a great hatch and had rising fish almost the entire time scoring many nice browns up to 17″ and some rainbows to 15″. I lost count of the fish we caught, and we scored several doubles….two fish on at the same time. We got out again on Thursday and had a much better morning, scoring some more nice browns and rainbows on a mix of midges, bwos, sulphurs, etc.

 

Low water fishing was pretty good and they were running morning pulses and afternoon generation. Morning fishing we probably scored 30 -35 fish. The fishing was again excellent, we got into more fish way downriver which sometimes happens on an earlier release.

They started at noon so we delayed our put in til 2pm in an effort to just focus on dry fly fishing. It paid off, we had bugs by 430pm and it was steady the rest of the way. Got into quite a few more fish downriver than we had in the past. It was great. Probably another 30 to 35 fish in the boat. Great two days …..fairly typical for July though.

That’s why folks shouldn’t look past summer fishing thinking its too hot. That ‘s one thing great about tailwaters…..its never too hot.   So if you are thinking there’s no opportunity to catch trout in the long hot summers we have then you need to rethink that….not only do we have great opportunities in more than a handful of places some of it is as good as you will find all year long.  Why wait?

On Friday 7/14 I guided a wade fishing trip with David Slaydon, Greensboro, NC, Bob Stanford, Greensboro, NC, TN tailwaters – South Holston, and had a great morning in stormy weather/threatening weather that stayed with us most of the day. Showers, then sun, then thunder, then a short downpour, that was our day or at least most of it. We did well in an area I fish a lot but have not fished in a while.

With no generation and three pulses, the river was quite crowded so we opted to wade fish and did pretty well. Bob scored the first several fish including several nice browns as we fished dry/dropper rigs in some challenging flat water. We moved up to a spot and David then got in on the action, scoring a pile of nice browns in a deep slot that always holds nice fish.

We sight fished for probably 4 hours and did very well, I guess we netted probably 30-35 fish or so over that time and several browns in the 17 to 18″ range and one fish, the largest that was close to 19″. We used a variety of micropatterns…… Bob stepped above us and nailed several as well, some of them on a sulphur emerger. The pulse was to come through about 130pm or so, so we took a lunch break with storms threatening and had lunch…then returned to the river during the pulse and a building thunderstorm and there were rising fish….something that always seems to happen during the pulse.

We managed several nice fish on dries that we would see rise, dust the fly, and present to the fish. For about a half hour every riser we cast to ate the fly. David scored several nice browns…..We left that spot and headed upriver in hopes of catching the pulse again and we did.

Caught some decent fish on dries there, Bob scored a good many on dry flies and David scored a nice rainbow…..before we decided to call it a day at 750pm or so. Great day, even if we had to really work for them, I still think we put 40 to 50 fish in the net…..pretty good on any water, let alone the fabled South Holston that humbles many a soul.

Hope your weekend was grand, we have a busy week coming up with a guided trip on the TN tailwaters on Monday and will be guiding Roger Hixson and Dan Rominger, then unavailable for a couple of days , then starting up again on Thursday and trips Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Should be another great week.

Some info on the South Holston Dam upgrade project is as follows….

A major update to the South Holston River Dam turbine is scheduled from July 2017 through March 2018, according to James Everett, P.E., RFC Ops Support for TVA River Management. The current turbine is 67 years old and the original to the dam. TVA will be replacing this turbine with a new and more efficient model.

This project will require TVA to manually operate downstream flows during the project. As most anglers are aware, the rate and time for downstream flow rates depend on energy demand and weather conditions; during the project only weather will be a concern. However, the plan is to provide 4 to 5 days during the week of flow between 1200-1500 cfs and 2 to 3 days on the weekends with no more than 400 cfs. Flow rates between 400 cfs and 1200 cfs are to be avoided because of oscillation affect on the weir dam.

Although all the details have not been refined, TVA will be providing notice of anticipated flow rates on their mobile app and using the siren at the weir dam when higher flow rates are coming.

TVA will be monitoring water temperatures downstream during the entire project operation as well as levels of Magnesium (Mg). At the lower elevations within the lake from which the water is to be drawn, there are higher levels of Mg. As needed TVA will use high elevation of lake water to mix with the discharge in order to dilute the Mg. TVA biologist, Dennis Baxter in involved with this part of the project.

That is the current scoop…..and yes we’ll keep updating this info and YES we will fish through all of this with no interruption.

Have a great week….

Jeff

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No Time for Sleep….

Sun. July 9, 2017 ….That’s what its been like lately, been burning the candle at both ends as its been off the charts busy.  Also busy juggling the continued settling of my parents’ estate which is both time consuming and emotionally consuming, but its all gone very well.  Just things that must be done, and everyone at some point goes through that.  Fishing has been off the charts though, even if we’ve endured every possibility as it relates to storms, wind, rain, you name it.  The only thing it hasn’t done is snowed.

On 7-3-2017 I guided  Ryan Sexton, Matthews, NC, TN tailwaters, we did a short low water float and also a high water float, morning fishing was good we netted a good many fish, a mix of browns and rainbows, with two big browns on midges. We fished til the early pm pulse passed through and took the boat out and ran upriver to try to catch the sulphur hatch.

Hatch was good, a few rising fish early then it turned on and we got about 3 hours of solid dry fly fishing.  Ryan smoked them, it was fun, we caught several risers early in the float then moved on to my favorite…..sniping singles and two or three fish groups.  It was like….pull up, spot a head poking out, put a cast and drift over him…..got em.  I watched as Ryan did that to probably a dozen straight fish.  About as good a two hour stretch of casting to fish and catching them as I’ve had all year long.  It was stunning, and fun to watch.

We worked our way downstream and hit a riser here, riser there, and again, most of them hooked up on the first or second drift.  Caught several solid 13 to 16″ browns, and the largest was a 17″ brown.  It was great, getting them on some of my older patterns I have not used in a while.  It was great.  We floated to takeout as there was one large thunderstorm bearing down on us.  About a half mile from takeout the bottom fell out, dumping a quick one inch of rain on us.

After celebrating the July 4th holiday with a quiet day at home with my wife and the doggies I did a 7-5-2017 trip and guided Trip, Mike Workman, Nick Sweitzer, Thomasville, NC, TN tailwaters, South Holston.   We met bright and early, we got out early and did some wade fishing, caught several fish to start nymph fishing with midge and sulphur patterns .  We moved downriver to a flat tailout and caught a nice fish on a beetle that was sipping on a bank, then several on dries, then several sight fishing with nymphs.

 Had a couple of really large browns own that came off.  We fished til about 230pm and took a short break for lunch, then put the boat in for an afternoon float…..dry or die style.  That is, we committed to fishing dries and had a great afternoon and evening of dry fly fishing , with lots of nice browns and rainbows, probably 25 or more, and several really nice fish including one 21-21.5″ brown and several other large fish hooked that came off.

 It was great.  We had a pretty good thunderstorm threatening that broke apart , with some of it going south of us and some north, and only grazing us with some wind and light rain.  We got lucky.  Fished til 830pm and arrived at takeout at dusk.

Did another trip on 7-6-2017 and guided Trip, Ryan Sexton, Matthews, NC, TN tailwaters wade/float, another stellar day.  Ryan always books a couple of days in July while he is vacationing for a week with the family and it was great as usual, just like our past July trips.   We opted for a later start with the forecast for storms early am and rain, but they never came.

 We started down near where the South Holston enters Bluff City and spent several hours nymph fishing and put several quality fish in the net, some great browns and rainbows, probably a dozen or so, not as many numbers but quality without question…landed several quality fish up to the 16/18″ range.  Nymphed up two giants from one deep ledge, both fish well over 20″ that after two long blistering runs broke off.  One fish appeared to be in the 24 to 25″ range.  The other was smaller but close to that.

 I accidentally left the phone/camera in the truck so didn’t get many pics of the first few hours….and it was too far to walk back to get it.  We left that area and went upriver and fished one more spot I like that contains some deep ledges….its not an easy spot to get to or fish but we did well, nailing probably 4 more fish from there and one of the best browns of the day.

 We then took a lunch break at the diner in Bluff City and went up river to float the upper river and catch the sulphur hatch.  We got the hatch, caught a good many fish on dries, missed some, and had our daily downpours as usual.  We had some heavy rain but thankfully no severe weather….which was a significant concern when we were fishing. Turned out ok.  Another late arrival to the ramp though, we arrived right at dusk.  Great two days with Ryan this week, we caught a lot of fish and some good ones.

Finished up the week on 7-8-2017 with guiding a wade trip with Anthony Hipps, Lexington, NC, Adam Harman, Kernersville, NC, TN tailwaters, we got a minimum flow schedule and I opted to wade fish the guys today even though I knew it’d be crowded, and we’d see a lot of folks.  While there were a lot of folks wading, we never really fished in sight of many people and did very well.

Both float and wade fishing is excellent right now, and it should be.  We had an epic day, we picked off several top shelf browns nymphing some of my favorite deep ledge pools on the middle river…..several quality fish including some 20″ plus and one that was in the 23-25″ range that managed to break off after a pretty lengthy fight. We caught a bunch of quality fish, browns and rainbows, including a very nice solitary riser that Anthony picked off on a sulphur dry.

We put probably 30 or so in the net at our first stop, had a quick tailgate lunch streamside, then headed upstream to fish the pre pulse sulphurs and post pulse.  We got to the next spot and it was game on again, we managed to put probably another 30 to 35 fish in the net there, a solid mix of browns and rainbows.  We caught most of those fish sight fishing some of my sulphur nymph patterns (Lickety split nymph) and midges, with lots of fish eating both.  With everyone gone, we moved to one of my favorite spots in anticipation of the pulse and rigged up with dries.  It came off as advertised and exactly as I thought it would be….the fish started rising right after the pulse flow reached peak and continued to do so the entire time of about and hour and a half it was falling.

Adam and Anthony smoked them on dry flies, we netted probably another 25 or more fish, many of which were quality browns.  We fished til the pulse was over, caught a few more, then decided to call it a day.  If the guys didn’t hit 100 today they sure came close.  Im sure an epic spinner fall would have come later (near dusk) as it often does.  A lot of this goes unnoticed because everyone is gone for the day……anglers and guides alike.  I fish a lot til dusk or dark this time and observe this a lot…..by dusk most folks are gone.

Have another busy week ahead, Wyoming trip is coming upon us too.  This week I’ll be doing two smallmouth floats to start….one with Justin Iocona and my youngest son Josh….a second one two boat float trip with Chef Jim Noble and his crew from Charlotte, NC, including QC Exclusive Magazine editor JP Grice, then two tailwater South Holston and Watauga trips with clients Ted Linczak and Bob Schwirzke, and a Friday trip on the tailwaters with clients David Slaydon and Bob Stanford.  Should be a great week of fishing and reports.  Great terrestrial fishing is on right now as well as the topwater smallmouth bite.  Right now is the time to book a trip, for soon July is full and so will be August.

Have a great one….!

Jeff

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Busy Two Weeks…

Wed. June 28, 2017 …..the season of 18 to 20hr days has been on….this time of the year can be our busiest.  The days are longer, there are a lot of fishing options, and usually folks have time off to fish.  We’ve been really busy the past few weeks, and I have gotten behind with reports because of it.  Not enough hours in a day on somedays to get everything done.  It didn’t help that during one of my recent several day stints on the tailwaters I was up early one morning doing the fishing report and tipped over a cup of water right onto my laptop keyboard.  It took a couple days for it to come on and power up and run again, but miraculously it did.  So here goes….

On June 17 I guided  Dr. Jim Kramer, Greensboro, NC,  on the TN South Holston….we got an early start and we went with the intention of doing some wading then floating in the pm…we did wade early and did pretty well doing my favorite thing which is stalking skinny water browns /sippers.   We spent the morning stalking browns and had a ball, as sight fishing is one of my favorite things to do.  Summertime mornings are tailor made for that…..and there’s no better place than the Soho.

We got in one stretch and waded along slowly and stealthily and would sight a fish, cast to them, see them eat the fly, and got ’em.  Did well using one of my favorite dry dropper setups with three flies.  Casts well, drifts well, and well, the results…it gets them.  Have been doing well on some new midge patterns and a new split case sulphur pattern I have been tying and the fish , especially the browns, love them. We caught a good many fish, all browns in the morning and then midday happened upon a flat with some sippers.  It had begun to drizzle as a storm had been building on the horizon.

Blue wings started to hatch and we switched to one of my new bwo dries and Jim promptly nailed several sippers I pointed out to him.  Watch the fish, read the drift, make a presentation….got ’em.  Rinse and repeat.  It was like that, both fun to do and fun to watch.  About 245pm we got out and had a streamside lunch and were going to go upriver and do a late afternoon and evening float.  Just as we arrived to the ramp a heavy thunderstorm dropped its wares and we were in an unbelievable downpour.  We sat there for a half hour and when the storm showed little movement and didn’t appear to be going anywhere we decided based upon that and its track that we would go back downriver and just wade fish.

I texted my shuttle guy and let him know we’d not be floating.  So we headed down and caught another fish or two on dries, then decided to go way down river to Bluff City and do some nymphing.  That would prove to be a good move, as we nymphed up probably a dozen nice fish, and many that were hooked briefly and got off —- some reel blistering rainbows and browns, including several nice fish that we neither saw nor brought to net.  It was , quite simply, a pretty good phenomenal end to the day.  It was great.  We finally quit about 8:00 and called it a day.  Getting into fish, getting wet, but having a great day….that seems to be the ongoing storyline.

On June 19, I guided Bob Stanford, David Slaydon, Greensboro, NC,  on the TN Tailwaters, met David and Bob in Elizabethton and we made the short jaunt over to the river.  Met late morning and planned on putting in around 1030/11am and did a 6.5 mile float.  Weather was sunny and hot /muggy to start, and we caught some nymphing right off, David I think scored the first fish, we worked our way down to a midriver bar and saw some risers.

Bob nailed the first and second ones there, both rainbows.  We fished our way down one bank and caught a few then headed downstream to an area that has been good lately.  It got really dark and started to rain, and what began as a moderate rain quickly became a torrential downpour.  The forecast was for bad storms and while we got tons of rain no bad or severe weather.  Rained a ton.

 We then got an incredible sulphur hatch and fished to rising fish for several hours, and caught some nice browns on dries.  Broke a good many off as well, it was hard to keep the flies afloat it was so wet.  You could dust your dry with Frogs Fanny powder and it was good for a few minutes but would quickly get waterlogged and need retreatment.  Fish were rising bank to bank and we did pretty well.

Eventually the hatch fizzled a bit and we headed downriver.  Got several more good fish on wets/soft hackles before it got so foggy we headed to takeout making it there just about dusk.  Good day, lots of fun, even though it rained yet again….

On June 20, I guided  Dr Pat Burney, and Dr Ken Karb, Greensboro, NC, on the TN South Holston.  We did a half day wade and half day float, did great in the morning wade fishing with lots of fish caught nymphing and then a little bit of a morning sulphur hatch and caught some on dries before the water came up.  It was great, and the best fishing of the day.

Today was the first day I can remember in so long that it didn’t rain.  There have only been a couple of days /trips like that the past two months it has rained that much.  Pretty incredible.  We caught a mix of rainbows and browns but the better fish were browns….and caught them on the surface.  It was a great morning.

 

About midday we got out of the river and headed up river for a short float….it would be very short as the guys had to be off the water by 3/3:30.  So we just hit a couple of spots.  Swinging flies worked best as the hatch had not yet gotten going.  Had them back to the ramp a little after 330pm and got a text from several folks (anglers and guides) indicating a blanket hatch up top on the upper river.  We should have stayed later but maybe next time.  Great day anyway.

On June 22, I guided Brian Fitzgerald, and  Dr Mike Lanning, Thomasville, NC,  on the TN tailwaters.  We had another day of heavy downpours, all day rain ahead of Tropical Storm Cindy, man was it wet.  An abbreviated report  both pics and report as the rain was so intense at times it was hard to get pics….and I got in pretty late as well.

We did pretty well nymph fishing drop shot rigs to start, then as fish started to rise we transitioned to dry flies and did quite well, scoring a good many fish on dries.  Mike put an 18-19″ brown in the boat, a fine fish and a tough one to land on 6X on high water.

 

We fished through several pods of fish, they were tougher than in days past, but got on one pod at the end that Brian worked over pretty good nailing several nice fish out of it.  Great day , even if it was wet….. some time soon all this rain is going to come to an end and we’ll go to the other extreme….dry as a bone!  Always seems to be that way anyway.

On June 23, I guided a father and son trip….. David & Davis Dow, Greensboro, NC,  on both TN tailwaters, we did a 1/2 day wade on the Watauga to start, and caught probably 15 fish, mostly browns with Davis, David’s 13yr old son nailing the best one, a brown of about 14 inches.

We had a nice lunch streamside about 1pm, then headed over to the South Holston for a 1/2 day float to take in the sulphur hatch.  The weather was better, and surprisingly we missed some of the heavy rain, and caught a break from the heavy rain overnight and the heavy rain that was to return after we finished.

We had a great hatch, and had a blast casting to rising fish.  Davis caught his first wild, rising, dry fly browns, and we did pretty good on some tough fish.  Ironically, we did best on the toughest spots….not what I would have guessed.  But that is the way it went.

We fished to risers downriver to the last spot they usually rise.  Davis caught probably 5 more fish, a couple of browns in the 13″ range.  Great day , it was nice to have a break from fishing in the rain…

On June 24 I had scheduled a guided trip with a longtime client and WFU professor Sandeep Mazumder, Winston-Salem, NC, a group trip and we postponed and rescheduled for fall as  high muddy conditions where we were going due to continued storms/heavy rain.  Many areas missed the brunt of Tropical Storm Cindy’s remnants, but not all places.  It was possible to have heavy rain in one county and absolutely nothing in another.  But it did go where we had planned to do our trip.

On Monday June 26 I guided Brian & John Pratt, Burlington, NC.  We spent the entire day on the South Holston, and did a half day wade and half day float and had a great day, nailing about 30 to 40 fish early wade fishing.

Caught fish on midges, bwos, and sulphurs, the fish were on the munch enjoying some low flows for a change.  One thing is sure, the fish are fat and healthy after all the high flows of spring and early summer so far.  Often you’ll hear “I hope all this high water doesn’t bother the fishing…or mess some things up…”.  Friend, never believe that.  They eat often and well when its high, and the fish right now we are catching are obviously eating very well.  Some of the smaller fish are like footballs….an eight to 10 inch fish with a gut.

 

We fished some til about 120pm and then stopped for a lunch break. We went up river and floated the upper Soho and the hatch finally came about 3 or 330pm and it was good for about 3 hours.  We fished to rising fish for that time and caught a good many browns and rainbows, and put a great exclamation point on a near perfect day.

70sF, light wind, partly sunny, and zero humidity all while surrounded by rising brown trout eating our dry flies.  Perfect as it gets.  A 50 fish plus day in near perfect weather.  We fished down through an area I like this time of year and then floated to takeout.  Great to be able to do fishing reports again here after the laptop survived a large cup of water turning over on it.

Have spent the rest of the week celebrating my anniversary with my wonderful wife Kathy, and also beginning working on the final stuff with my folks’ estate as far as moving a bunch of stuff, doing some repair work, preparing some stuff for auction and getting a house ready to sell.  Some trips coming up later in the week and also the coming weeks will go back to really busy.  Summers going to be gone before we know it.

Have a great one…

Jeff

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Wading, Floating, Sulphurs…..

Thurs. June 16, 2017 ….. Looks like the season of 18hr plus days continues…. Usually the whole year can be pretty busy but the period from April through August takes that to a whole new level.  Our website and fishing report audience has grown exponentially and things have been beyond busy since mid April.

 

We had all the wet weather, and kept fishing through it all, jumping from one water to the next and to different sections of rivers to stay in clear water and decent fishing.  The past few weeks its been out early, because you never know if and when thunderstorms will impact the fishing time.  You get out early in hopes of getting a good day on the record before the afternoon heat and possibly storms come.  We fish around weather….I never cancel because of storms because if I did I’d have to take the summer off.  Its just part of the normal day to day thing.

 But the season of long days continues…..always a rub to keep up with messages and emails and website updates and such.  Just never enough time it seems to keep up.  Guess its a good thing, but I do get behind and play catch up the rest of the summer.

..had a good morning of fishing sippers, sulphurs and beetles and did a midday to early evening float.  About 8 nice fish  in the morning including several browns in the 18″ class .  Did some nymphing also, and put a few in the boat nymph fishing using tunghead TN nymph and my own rendition of the split case nymph, tied a bit differently than most tie.

We began to see a few rising fish around 145pm, then a few more, but fewer rising fish than last few days.  The upper river hatch should start intensifying now that we are into the summertime muggy and hot weather, of course thunderstorms are part of that too, something we wouldn’t be denied the enjoyment of today.

 We didn’t find big pods of fish rising so we targeted singles along the bank ….its my favorite game because its like hunting.  We did well, scoring about 25 fish or so doing this, and most of them nice browns.  Its pretty neat as well because some of the fish are in really tight spots, along banks, under overhangs……places most folks/boats pass right by.

 

But we did really well….pick a fish, dust the fly with Frogs Fanny, then cover the fish with a drift…..done.  It was great, we had about 3 hours in the afternoon of solid dry fly fishing.  Then we had a thunderstorm and it was pretty windy, things were winding down anyway so after the rain stopped we floated on to our takeout.  Good day though, a a nice rain to wash all the salt and sweat off…lol.

I have a guided trip tomorrow with longtime client Dr Jim Kramer and we’ll probably do the tailwaters as well.  Another busy week coming up next week with five trips scheduled.  Will be a real challenge as we are in the process of settling my mom’s estate and will be doing some work relative to that the other two days.

Have a great weekend….

Jeff

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Great Float/ Wade Day…..

Wed. June 14, 2017 Great day yesterday doing a half n half trip, that is a half day wade trip in the morning followed by an afternoon high water float. Guided Jeff and Lin Ingram and we had a great morning netting over 30 fish on nymphs and then caught a bunch on dries. We had lunch and then did a half day float on the upper South Holston and whacked ’em again putting probably 20-25 more in the net.

Great day, we narrowly missed a big thunderstorm as we rowed to take out. We are into that season and kind of weather so all is normal on that front.

Doing a trip with frequent client Ted Linczak today, an afternoon float hoping to get in on more dry fly fishing.

Have a great one…..

Jeff

Posted from the banks of the lower South Holston, Possum Creek, TN

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins Fly Fishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summer field, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.appflyguide.com

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Phenomenal Saturday…

Sat. June 10, 2017 ……What a way to end the week, did a trip with a longtime friend and client Wayne Johnson, Atlanta, GA, who I taught to fly fish over a decade ago.  Since that time he has traveled the world fly fishing all over so this was sort of a reunion trip.  I had not fished with Wayne in almost 4 years, as work, and moving and other stuff took him all over the past few years.

I met Wayne late morning and we did the upper river float on the South Holston.  We caught a few fish nymphing drop shot rigs, then a few swinging wet flies, then we started to fish dries as the bugs came off.  Hatch was good but not as heavy as yesterday, but that is normal, it will be heavy some days light others but there were plenty of fish rising to be had.

 We nailed several nice fish on dries, including a 19″ brown and a 22.5″ brown, both on one of my sulphur emergers, plus a number of other quality fish.  We moved downriver, nailing risers from pods of fish we saw rising.  It was great, Wayne had a banner day, it was epic.  One of the better quantity and quality fish days I have had.  We caught fish all the way downriver.

Fished to one last pod of risers on a bank that hardly ever get fished to, a very difficult spot to fish but Wayne nailed several nice fish there, all browns, and had one fish on that was in the 23 to 25″ range that he played marvelously but the fish got into some grass and broke off after a 3 or 4 minute fight.  After it broke off, the fish surface and jumped upriver 15 feet upriver and it was a two footer with a big kype (hooked jaw), one of those yellow and orange colored up buttery browns…..uggghhhh…..we were both speechless…and heartbroken.

It was getting late so we ended on that last fish and headed to our takeout.  July is going to be epic, now is the time to reserve a date if you want in on it…..as I am getting calls and bookings daily and it should fill up soon.

Have a great Sunday…

Jeff

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Great Week This Week….

Sat. June 10, 2017 ….Its been a great week, and I have not stopped for the most part, doing trips Tuesday through today Saturday June 10, and a total of about 42 miles of floating.  Its been a great week, the warmwater fishing has been great and the tailwaters South Holston and Watauga have been lights out.  Some of the best fishing in a long time with big hatches and rising fish.

 On Wednesday and Thursday I did two days of guided trips with two clients I take a lot… Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, and Tony Makris, Columbus, OH.  We fished both the South Holston and Watauga and fishing was excellent. On Wednesday we fished the South Holston, floated the entire river ….14.5 miles.  Did an 8 mile streamer float to start, and nailed some nice browns doing that, then headed upstream to catch the sulphur hatch.  Great hatch caught a ton of fish on dry flies.  A ton….

On Thursday we fished the first half day on the Watauga, and it was good also.  Caught about 3 dozen browns and rainbows, lots on midges early then some on dry flies.  We left the Taug’ about 1pm and headed back over to the South Holston to hopefully catch the sulphur hatch.  It was epic.  Blanket hatch, we fished to rising fish for 4 solid hours.  Lost count of the fish caught…..it was outstanding.

 

Fished the last two hours streamers and caught some more good browns doing it.  Great two days…… fishing on both rivers on fire…..  We did the usual either float the mornings throwing meat or fishing low water with midges, both of which are release schedule dependent.  The high water afternoons are when the big hatches have come….summer is here folks.  And its going to be good.

 

On Friday I did a guided float trip with James Brewer, Biscoe, NC, and Dan Rominger, Belews Creek, NC,  and we floated the South Holston.   I met James and Dan around 845am and we were off, ran down to the put in and floated the upper river and caught several fish swinging wet flies/soft hackles.  We caught a lot of fish doing that, which works pre hatch and all during the sulphur emergence.  Sometimes it works when other things aren’t working.  It worked great today.

We then floated falling water down to a favorite pool where we fished low water from the boat and had a great flurry of fishing, putting probably 40 to 50 fish in the net there, as we caught them on long skinny leaders, small flies….did very well on midges and split case nymphs.  Sight fishing was epic, we had shots at good fish all day long and caught plenty.

…and then the sulphurs came.  Great hatch, nailed a bunch of rising fish on dries….heaviest hatch so far this year I’ve fished or guided.  It was great, at many times there were bank to bank risers.  Pick a fish and work him.  If you didn’t get him on the first drift the second or third time was the charm. It was great, sure redemption for the last’s months crazy and difficult weather patterns.  How sweet it was, and continues to be.  The rest of the summer is going to be epic if its like this now.

We fished til about 7pm and then floated to take out.  I rowed through the last mile and a half to the ramp as the guys needed to hit the road for home.  The hatch was so good we had stayed well beyond what they intended already.  Good stuff, …”honey I’m going to be really late.”  It was one of those days.

Have another trip leaving out this morning, and will be guiding Wayne Johnson, Atlanta, GA.  I have fished with Wayne quite a bit over the past 10 years.  We are starting late morning as the release schedule is on at 8am.  We will likely put in just after 10am.  Should be a great day….Wayne is a combat Vet and will today be sniping some rising Soho browns.  I expect a good day as the forecast is sun and 85F….that is near perfect for the hatch to be great, and I’d be surprised if it isn’t.

Well, time to drink this one last cup of coffee and pack things up in the boat.   Game time….

Have a great one…

Jeff

Posted from the banks of the Watauga River in East TN


Busy Week Coming Up…

Mon. June 5, 2017 – This weekend did some afternoon panfish /bass trips….. a note …June 3 marked the opening of the DH Harvest period.  All DH waters opened to harvesting fish on June 3, from sun up til noon only anglers 15yrs old and were able to legally fish and harvest fish.  After noon, all anglers were permitted to do so.  Some streams will continue to receive periodic stockings the rest of the summer but that is dependent upon elevation.  Consult the NC wildlife website here to find that information.

The warmwater topwater bite at times has been as good as it gets.  That is normal business for this time of year.  In some respects I have experienced flurries of action that were as good as I have ever experienced.

Spent a good bit of the weekend fly fishing for warmwater species and tallied over 100 bluegills, some nice bass, yellow perch, carp, etc.  Spent some of that time with friend and fellow guide Tom Smith scouting some carp….a number of our local waters have them and a lot of them and they tail and eat in shallow water and offer shallow water sight fishing akin to bonefishing.

Have an upcoming string of trips, all float trips, and we’ll be floating the South Holston and Watauga.  Flows are coming down as the TVA has pumped tons of water in an effort to get the lakes back down to a manageable level.  Fishing has improved also, and will continue to do so.  Plenty of fish to be had nymphing, and afternoons have seen some dry fly action, mostly sulphurs.

Have a two day trip , both floats , coming up with Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, and Tony Makris, Columbus, OH.  I’ll follow that with a Friday float with James Brewer, Biscoe, NC, and Dan Rominger, Belews Creek, NC.  Will wrap up the week floating with a longtime client Wayne Johnson, Atlanta, GA.  Should be a great week.

Here are some great videos for you…….worth a look…

 

Have a great one……

Jeff

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Jeff Wilkins Fly Fishing is a Member of the American Outfitter and Guide Association


Great Friday Trip…

Sat. June 3, 2017 …. Finally getting beyond the wet weather a bit and hitting some private with with two clients, did a guided wade fishing trip with Adam Norris and Will Johnson, Winston-Salem, NC.  I met Adam and Will near the river and we suited up and headed down.  Didn’t take long to get into fish, we did very well, landing some fine rainbows in the first spot we fished.  Caught them nymphing, even though there were a few fish rising.  They didn’t rise to dries all that well, so nymph fishing we continued with.

The next spot we did similarly, caught a bunch of fish fishing nymph rigs and dry /dropper rigs.  Had on one fish that would have been fish of the year, a rainbow that was double digits and was somewhere in the 26 to 30″ range.  Adam played the fish for a while very well, and it made several runs and jumps, only to end up breaking the hook.  Not breaking the tippet or breaking off…..breaking the hook.  It was a ginormous rainbow.

We fished a while longer then headed back to the truck to have lunch and then move upstream to fish some more and hit some of the small lakes/ponds on the property.  We did very well there, with Adam nailing a sipper the first cast with a beetle. It was a rainbow in the 24 to 25″ range.  After a spirited fight and several leaps a 5 pound plus rainbow lay in my net.  After a quick photo we released the fish.

We ended up catching a good many fish on terrestrials.  Caught several nice rainbows, one nice brown, and also spent some time at all three of the small lakes/ponds on the property.  We had shots at some brookies but that were challenging.

We also fished one of the lakes and got to sight fish for cruising bass.  We caught a good many bass and also some huge panfish….all of them on topwater or a dry /dropper and some on a pink squirmy which we would cast to a cruising fish and twitch the fly in front of them.

We made our way back to the river and ended up nailing a lot more rainbows, including one beast of a fish that was in the 26-27″ range and probably a solid 7-8lbs.  The fish ate a size 20 pheasant tail, another official 20/20 for the season….20 inch plus fish on a fly size 20 or smaller.  We ended up landing a ton of fish there and two other spots.

About 730pm we decided to call it a day.  Excellent day of fishing, plus we got some on top.  We did pretty well with terrestrials, not so much with some of the other dries that normally work.  But the terrestrial bite is definitely on.  And we’ll be doing a bit of this the rest of the summer.

Also, have another afternoon /evening Saturday trip for bass and panfish.  I do some of this during certain times of the year, and the fishing can be exceptional.  One surprise for me is how many folks don’t take advantage of some of this fishing.  Its one of the best ways to improve all your skills from casting to line management to everything.  Even those who fly fish a lot.  Missing out on it …..is a loss.

Have a busy week of fishing coming up and should be a good week.  We have some chances for rain on Sunday but the following week looks drier than weeks past.  That should help things settle back to normal.

Have a great weekend…

Jeff

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