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Great Fishing Continues…..Get in On It or Miss Out!

Monday April 8, 2019  Another great week behind us.  We had a busy week and the fishing was excellent.  April is one of those months where you almost can’t go wrong.  Everything is getting going…..local bass and warmwater fishing, shad and stripers down east, reds and specks and other species in the salt, and mountain trout, bass, and more.  Hard to choose where because so many places will be good.  Good problem to have though.

On 4-1-2019 I worked on on our usual beginning of the month stuff plus catching up after two weeks of being on the water almost 6 days each week. Mountain of email, messages, fly orders, things are very busy. There was a cool down, and will be for next day or two then back to great spring weather. Fishing is great and will only get even better on all waters. Perfect as perfect gets as far as conditions. Delayed Harvest waters restocking for April starting today, opening day on all Hatchery Supported waters is Saturday Apr 6.

4-3-2019 I guided a TN float/wade trip, with Mike Delissio, Winston-Salem, NC, TN tailwaters, we did a half day /morning float and had some good fishing, mostly subsurface stuff and caught some nice browns…a mix of rainbows and browns , caught a number of fish swinging wet flies also. We floated the upper section and stopped for lunch just after 1pm. After lunch we went upriver and caught some more fish with double nymph rigs. Rising fish were here and there but they were never rising consistently. Put about 30 in the net today, and Mike even landed a couple of doubles.   Beautiful weather, mid 60s and sunny.

On 4-4-2019 I guided  Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, and took advantage of a split schedule on in the morning and off in the afternoon to do a morning float and afternoon wade. Great fishing on float, probaby 50 fish in the net and several quality, big browns. Afternoon we waded low water and got some olives, caddis, etc., and caught another 25 or so to put an exclamation point on an already great day. Sun, warm, 75F made for an incredible day. Busy week, and busy weeks end so report is kind of short but simply put the fishing has been superb. Superb. Have a few days left in April, beyond that June is the earliest next opening. IF you are looking for a date to fish time to reserve it now as I expect I’ll be full soon. Here are a few pics from yesterday of some of the hogs that came to the boat…

On 4-6-2019 I guided Dr Jerry Reeves, Oak Ridge, NC, and Mike Blackman, Greensboro, NC, and we had an early start, a really early start, in expectation of a nice weather Saturday with plenty of sun, and with that the expectation of a lot of other anglers on the water.  We got lucky with the rain on Friday, it was widespread and heavy in some areas but we missed a lot of it where we fished, and we fished two different waters.  One was in great shape, about as good as it gets, the other was high and very off color, just short of what I would call muddy.  Both fished great, we had a banner day, spent most of the day nymph fishing with double rigs and soft hackle rigs and did very well.  Caught about 40 before 10am , browns, brookies, and rainbows, several 18″ plus fish included.  We fished about a mile of water before lunch and had about 50 fish by lunch, the largest a 21-22″ rainbow landed by Jerry and an 18″ brookie by Mike.  We had a quick shore lunch, then headed off to fish another couple of stretches and also one other stream as well and we caught fish like the morning, ending up with just shy of 100 fish on the day.  It was excellent to put it simply.  Conditions were great and continue to be.  This pattern of a several dry days and one day of rain is keeping conditions optimal…..and we are enjoying and reaping the fruits of that.  Here are two citation fish that came to net…

We have more photos than the above on our main website fishing reports page.  You can see more by clicking here . Expecting another great week this week.  We have some rain coming in but it is only tonight and early tomorrow and then its out of here.  It will help keep our local waters at an optimal level, so with that I welcome it.

Our upcoming FLY FISHING SCHOOL on April 27, 2019 at the SUMMIT Center in Brown Summit is now full.  It is an all day even we are doing with or for our friends at GREAT OUTDOOR PROVISION COMPANY in Greensboro.  Looking forward to a great event.

We have a busy week of trips coming up, several wade trips over the next few days rounded out with a few float trips toward week’s end.  Should be a great week of fishing.  As I have said for a while, time to get out fishing or you will miss out.  Prime time is here, time to take advantage of it.

Tight Lines…

Jeff

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Spring Has Arrived…..

Monday, April 1, 2019….Spring has arrived even though it feels quite chilly out today.  A cold front slid through yesterday morning bringing with it a couple of days of cool temperatures before things rebound to a May like feel on Wednesday.  We have had a stellar past week and a half though, and have caught a ton of fish.  Here is what’s been going on in the way of trips the past week and a half…

On 3-21-2019 I guided Wes, Red, and Susan Gormus, 3 Anglers, Charlottesville, NC, Va Private Water, good day, crazy weather, cold, windy, hi reached 50F but it didn’t feel like it, we had high winds and snow all around us, even some snow falling on and off on us.  Never amounted to anything but we ended up having several inches to a high of 8 inches just northeast of Lexington,Va.  We had a good day fishing though, tons of quality rainbows up to 22″, probably 50 on the day, although I didn’t keep count really.  Water conditions were high and clear/green and water temp 39F….running at 150 cfs and perfect.  About as perfect as it gets in that regard.  Great day, ended with very windy conditions and a blast of cold air.  Such is the two faced month called March.  Here are some pics…

On 3-22-2019 I guided Trip, Greg & Alexander Adzima, Boone, NC, NC Mtns, had a very cold windy day, temps were in the low 30s to start and wind blew 25 to 35mph with gusts to 50mph.  Quite breezy to say the least, we still had a good day though, and it eventually got up into the 40s even though the wind never really subsided.  At times you had to quit casting and wait 30 seconds so it could blow….we had a good day though.  Alexander’s girlfriend Tiffany joined us also.  We caught about 50 fish total, a mix of rainbows, browns, and brookies, with Tiffany getting the fish of the day a an 18-19 inch brook char.  Good fishing, the water is, well, ideal or about as good as it gets.  We fished til around 6pm and called it a day, covering about 3/4 mi of river.  Great fishing, here are some pics….

 

On 3-23-2019 was the annual River Cleanup South Holston and Watauga Rivers, TN,The Bill Beazell and Allen Robbins Memorial Tailwater Roundup, presented by the Cherokee and Overmountain Chapters of Trout Unlimited and local community leaders, provides an opportunity for those who love the South Holston and Watauga Rivers to join forces and make a difference. Past years have been great successes, with members from conservation groups, the fishing community, paddling enthusiasts, and the fly fishing industry showing up to take part.  A lot of trash was removed and was a much needed thing after the flooding of the past several months littered the banks and bottom with tons of new debris.

On 3-25-2019 & 3-26-2019  I guided two float trips, Ken Okorn, Mechanicsburg, PA, and  Tom Lanyi, Carlisle, PA, TN tailwaters, Day one float we got blue winged olives, and rising fish, and caught a bunch of fish on nymphs, dries, wet/soft hackles…..and fished much of the day in a steady moderate to heavy rain.  Great day fishing though, probably 50 or more fish landed.  Day two we floated a long stretch of the lower South Holston and did well on some large fish, probably 20 fish altogether, but some trophy sized >20″ browns, one smallmouth.  Great two days, an abbreviated report as Jeff got in really late and have several more trips including tomorrow…. here are some pics…

On 3-27-2019 I guided  Jeff Chalmers, Jim Bolling, Summerfield, NC, NC Mtns, cold start but the fishing was on fire, we fished two different waters and caught all our fish on double nymph rigs, water levels are nearing perfect and the nymph fishing is simply on fire in most places, fairly typical of this time of year.  We had a chilly start but a very nice weather day, and put probably 50 fish in the net…..a mix of browns, brookies and rainbows.  A short report as I got in late and have another trip tomorrow…here are some pics…

On 3-28-2019 I guided David Carter, Greensboro, NC, NC Mtns, early start and David and I were in the river before 8am.  A heavy frost and chilly start but the fishing was great right from the start.  Water temps are optimum and levels are as well and temps in the a lot of places are in the upper 40s to around 50F.  50F where we were at midday and that means hatches.  Good dry fly fishing should be coming any day now.  We had a stellar day putting about 50 fish in the net, a mix of browns , brookies, and rainbows but mostly rainbows.  caught some large fish, the largest a pair of nice rainbows, one of them a citation sized fish.  Nymph fishing is simply on fire…..no other way to state it.  Best weather day of the year so far, 66F  sunny, no wind, zero humidity.  It was great.  Another long day, up early, in late….but that is what spring is like…!   Here are some photos…..

On 3-29-2019 I guided Patrick McDaid, Greensboro, NC, NC Mtns, another day of incredible weather, warm, it was mid 50s to start which was kind of nice….very nice.  Patrick and I fished two different small streams.  Water levels are fantastic, about as ideal as it gets, and most places are what I’d call normal level and even a few, if you can believe it, are running lower than you’d expect, what I’d call slightly below that….a shocker given how wet the year started off.  Water temps range from mid 40s to around 50F and bugs are hatching like crazy.  Saw a lot of rising fish today, and that is typical of warmups and falling water.  We did great and caught a ton of fish, some nice wild browns as well.  Capping off a very busy week, here are a few pics….

Its now April and I am working on our usual beginning of the month stuff plus catching up after two weeks of being on the water almost 6 days each week.  A mountain of email, messages, fly orders, things are very busy.  If you have messaged me and not heard back I am getting caught up and will get back to you.  Lots of 18-20 hr days here lately…..crazy season has arrived!   Cool down next day or two then back to great spring weather.  Fishing is great and will only get even better on all waters. Perfect as perfect gets as far as conditions.   Delayed Harvest waters restocking for April starting today, opening day on all Hatchery Supported waters is Saturday Apr 6.

I put out a free printable Hatch chart in PDF format for the month each and every month and you can print this at our page here or by clicking the link below:

JWFF April Hatch Chart

It has not only the insects that you will find to be active but also what flies match them.  Of course, a lot of waters its more about presentation than the bug per se.  But there are times, and we’ll all encounter them if you fish enough, where something a bit closer to what they are eating is needed.  But those aren’t the majority of situations.

The most notable thing about the current conditions is that we are primed for the best dry fly fishing of the entire year any day now.  I saw more risers this week than any previous to now, and the reason is warmer temps and falling water temps.   A continuance of both of those things will yield more and more fish rising.  Right now, water temps above 4000′ are still low to mid 40s but that is warm enough for fish to be actively feeding and nymphing is great right now with dry fly fishing coming.  Water temps between 2000′ and 4000′ are in that key upper 40s to low 50s range that yields bwos, dark caddis, and our largest clinger type mayflies….most notably Grey Fox, March Browns, Lt Cahills, and more, and I have witnessed many of those already hatching.  Our lowest elevation trout waters  in those 1400′ to 2000′ elevations(front slopes…i.e. Mitchell, Ararat, Wilson, East Prong, Stone Mtn Creek, Catawba R, Elk Fork, etc.) are already in the prime low 50s and reaching mid 50s on some.  Prime dry fly action exists and will continue and soon we’ll see all our ‘yellar’ bugs (local vernacular) made up of sulphurs and Lt Cahills.  On the tailwaters, blue wings continue mixing with black caddis and we are already seeing a few sulphurs pop if you can believe.  The Watauga caddis hatch is upon us and so is the South Holston sulphur hatch.  Looks like warm weather coming so that will only serve to speed things up.

Time to get out and fish.  Our calendar is filling up.  We have a couple of open April dates week of April 8th and last week of April, and May will soon be totally full.  We are filling summer dates daily as well so if you want a date time to grab one while we still have openings.

Tight lines!

Jeff

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New Week, Same Result…..

Wednesday March 20, 2019 …..Pretty much, this is a new week but the same result as last week.  Great fishing.  Often I will post a preview of what the upcoming week should look like…or what I think it will look like……occasionally it works out not only exactly like you like it but it even tops that.  Here is what I wrote on our website fishing reports page…

WEEK of 3-18 to 3-25 Preview….. Going to be a good week, if sun is what you have been waiting for. Chilly yes, but good fishing weather absolutely. We have a full week of trips slated, conditions are great, about as good as you could hope for. Small streams , Delayed Harvest waters, and tailwaters are all fishing great, I’ve been on all just about everyday the past week and it was stellar…..

Had a great start to the week and yesterday’s trip with Dr Terry Massagee was outstanding.  Hard to imagine better.  Here is the fishing report from yesterday and the cold day of fishing in the NC mountains.

Terry and I met bright and early, it was cold, really cold, right on the heels of a cold front that swept through on Monday. Other than feeling chilly, it didn’t bother the fishing, as it shouldn’t have. Its spring, time for them to eat and for us to fish. Today was proof you don’t have to wait on “perfect conditions” and in fact, if you do you will miss out. It took about a half hour for the sun to get above the trees, and when it did it was game on.

We covered about a mile of water and all of it produced. Some spots we’d catch two or three fish, others as many as 8 to 10. The first half of the day produced about 40 fish, two of which were citation (20 inch) rainbows, several nice native browns, some quality brookies.

We took a break for lunch and had a nice lunch streamside, and it also had warmed up significantly. We ate quickly but enjoyed it greatly, we took little time because there was more work to do…..catch fish. After some difficult climbing down a treacherous ravine, then a tough riverbank, we started in one of my favorite places to fish late winter/early spring.

It produced several fish, maybe a half dozen or 8 fish, but one of them a lifetime fish. Terry made a cast to a spot where I have caught large fish before. He made the cast, set the hook, and the fish came up close to the surface. It was a leviathan of a brown trout. A huge female brown, the fish rolled under the surface and then it was on. For the next 8 or 9 minutes Terry played the fish. I walked him through every move, give line, take line, rod up, rod to the side. He followed perfectly, and in about 8 or 9 minutes the largest NC brown trout I have ever had a client catch lay in my net. The closest to a three foot brown I have ever come in NC.  The fish ate one of my custom Dead Squirrel flies, a longtime favorite of mine and many clients for decades.  I tie and sell these.

Had a client catch one of this size a few years back on the upper South Holston in Virginia, and a couple in TN close to that, but never in NC. Had one years ago in Chinqapin Lake in Ashe Co that was 27-28″ but never a 30″ fish. This one was beyond that. A great fish, a lifetime catch for most folks who flyfish.We had a great afternoon after that, catching another 30 fish or so, including two other rainbows that were in the 18-22″ range. A killer day, we netted about 80 total on they day….epic fishing by any definition.

Here are all the photos from yesterday…..on our fishing reports page here we have a short video clip of Terry and his giant brown and the release….pretty sweet.  Check it out here .

Weather is great folks. It is cold in the mornings, but minimally wet now and minimally so over the next few days. Of course, we’ll be fishing regardless. Cold or nice. Wet or Dry. Fishing is on fire and with dropping water levels and warming water temps both the bugs are becoming more active and the fish have put the feedbags on and are munching like wildfire.  I’ve said before and will reiterate, we are experiencing one of the best spring fishing seasons we have had in some time.  All things point to things continuing to be that way.  Right now our March has been full for some time, and our May is nearly full.  April will soon be full as well so don’t miss out if you are thinking about a trip.

Hope today is a great one…..!

Tight Lines…

Jeff

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Fishing Has Been On Fire….

Monday March 18, 2019 ….. Best way to state it, fishing has been on fire.  Going to be a good week, if sun is what you have been waiting for.  Chilly yes, but good fishing weather absolutely.  We have a full week of trips slated, conditions are great, about as good as you could hope for.  Small streams , Delayed Harvest waters, and tailwaters are all fishing great, I’ve been on all just about everyday the past week and it was stellar…..and clients caught a ton of fish.

Bugs are hatching, and fish will be looking up as spring comes officially this week.  The fish won’t be looking up because of that though.  Its because with dry weather comes falling water levels and with lower water levels comes increasing dry fly opportunities.  Bugs have been active and coming off all along.  But as usually is the case with higher flows, nymph fishing is way more productive.  Period.  But as the water drops the fish begin to key on the insects which have been active whether the water is high or not.  Enough of that though, here is a recap of our most recent guided trips…

On 3-13-2019 , we had the first day of our annual spring NC Trout Bum trip, and those joining me were Dr Pat Burney, Ted Linczak, Tim Moore.  We had a great day, sun , warmer, cloudy later in the day, zero rain…..water was clear/green and high, fishing was stellar from the start.  We fished a variety of nymph rigs, double nymph rigs, and even had some excellent streamer fishing too.  Fish have not been pressured and fishing is real solid right now.  Today was an 80-90 fish day, with two 20 inch brook trout landed by Ted the big fish of the day.  Here are some pics….

On 3-14-2019, Day two of our NC Trout Bum trip, Dr Pat Burney, Ted Linczak, Tim Moore, we had cloudy skies when we got out early but it was warm , in the 60sF, and fishing was on right from the start.  We fished double nymph rigs and streamers and did very well,, I think all total the guys landed somewhere around 125 fish total today.  A mix of rainbows, browns, and brookies, several of the fish landed were citation sized brookies (18-20″) and a rainbow.  Tim landed two gaint redhorse suckers, which are fun to catch.    Fishing was on fire today, no other way to say it.  We fished til about 630pm and called it a day.  Here are some pics…

On 3-15-2019 I did a tailwater high water float trip with Ted Linczak.  Ted did the two day trout bum trip and decided to stick around and he wanted to do a float trip on the big water on the South Holston.  TVA still dumping 4100 + cfs (normal generation amount is 2400-2500cfs, the river is in the trees.  Fishing was on fire.  Ted wanted to do a streamer float, which is what we did, we did the lower 10 miles of river and had a great day.  300 grain sinking lines and big rods and big flies…..plus fishing them in the right spot and we ended up having a 60 fish day on streamers will a ton of nice fish caught, several of which we 20 inch and larger browns.  One rainbow in the mix otherwise it would have been a brown trout event totally……Caught all our fish on one of my Olive Double L streamers, they simply ate it up.  We did the close n precise game, using some of the techniques I used for years on some of our big rivers in Eastern NC striper fishing….and works like a charm.  We had an incredible day of streamer fishing, ask good as you could hope for.  It rained heavily in the morning before we started, but it quit and remained cloudy til 2pm when the sun came out.  The fishing was good regardless.  Sunny 64F and that is hard to beat after all the nasty weather we’ve had.  Here are some pics of our day….

Our March calendar has been full for some time and April has a few openings, but I suspect they too will be soon full.  We have a very small handful of days still open in May for anyone interested.  Booking up a little faster than in years past, going to be a great spring!

Tight Lines….

Jeff

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Behavioral Drift….

There are many things that get the focus or attention of fly anglers that get the attention owed to them….we all love hatches and the great dry fly action that comes with them. Some love the aggressive eats of a pre or post spawn trout , be it a brook trout, rainbow trout, or my personal favorite…brown trout. Some like low water terrestrial fishing in summer…others high water nymphing in early spring. But there are some things that have a profound effect on fishing, and are worthy of the same attention of the things I mentioned above. Yet few know about this one.

I’d say if you lined up 10 experienced anglers up in a line, almost no one would know anything about this. I’d say the same for flyfishing guides. Yes, fly fishing guides. There I said it. So what is this “thing” I’m talking about? It is called Behavioral drift.

Basically, it is when insects leave the substrate /bottom and enter the water column and drift with the current.  This activity occurs daily, seasonally, annually, and so forth.  But the fact that it occurs goes largely unnoticed by the angling community.  There’s a reason our nymph fishing on trout waters is really good during our early season.  One, the bottom is more densely populated with insect fauna right now than at any time of the year.   Most if not all insects who hatched last year and successfully laid eggs those eggs are now fully developed or nearly mature insects.  Those are ready or will be ready to hatch.  And they drift in large numbers.

There are several categories of drift that entomologists are familiar with:  Catastrophic drift, where high water or floods displace numbers of insects;  Behavioral drift as a result of activity, be it feeding activity, moving from one spot to the next when food supply dwindles, avoiding predators (other animals and insects), and so forth.  There’s also distributional drift, which is thought of as a method of dispersal.  That is once eggs are laid in the riffle areas of a stream the eggs hatch and then the nymphs as they develop and feed they will enter the drift occasionally and move to other areas of the stream thereby preventing the depletion of a food supply in the place they came from.  To sum it up, this is all drifting activity not associated with an insect emergence.

It has been my experience in the early spring to mid spring time frame that this drift activity, collectively, has a great effect on fishing.  Fishing is excellent, and the fish are well attuned to this activity that most folks aren’t even aware is occuring.  They just notice the nymph fishing is really good, but they don’t know why.

Drift occurs daily, and there are, from what entomologists often tell us, and the ones I know reiterate this, some definite times of day that this activity is more prevalent.  Insects drift on and off throughout the day but a large part of this occurs during the low light hours and overnight.  Often significant activity occurs very early in the day, waning a bit during the daylight hours, then picking up again nearing sunset, once again reaching significance in terms of impact.  Light often retards some of the activity, and even moonlight can suppress some of it.

Fish do notice this, and will often feed heavily on the drifting nymphs, and often in areas in the shallows where you wouldn’t normally expect to find large fish, particularly gravel strewn edges with weed patches, shallow tailouts of large, flat , deep pools, and so forth.  To the angler who knows this is occurring they can catch some tremendous fish in very shallow water, and often sight fish to large fish who are feeding in response to this. I have personally witnessed this phenomenon on the South Holston River in East Tennessee, where large fish gorged themselves on the drifting ephemerella invaria (sulphur) nymphs that were visible in huge numbers in the water column in the shallow tailout of a pool I was sight fishing to fish in.  I had actually heard of drift from a friend, professor, fellow angler and gentleman I once worked for at the Fly Line Fly Shop, Dr Jim Sellers.  Jim was a master angler, to this day the best I have ever known, and who I name as a mentor having more influence on my early fly fishing endeavors than anyone.  Jim is still the only person to this day that I have ever heard mention it.

Certainly a fascinating thing drift is, and its probably the reason you have enjoyed great early season nymphing, and particularly early in the day.  A lot of research has been done on drift.  There’s a great paper or research piece that explains a bit more about it, and its an article called “Invertebrate Drift-A Review”, which was published in Hydrobiologia, January 1988 and revised by Dr JE Brittain in 2017, University of Oslo…a joint paper written by John E. Brittain and Tor Jan Eikeland, Zoological Museum, University of Oslo, Norway.  This is now located at the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, Albury, NSW 2640 , Australia.  If you desire to look into it further, you can find this article online.  You can also download it for FREE.

 


Time to Fish….

Wednesday February 27,2019…Of course , that is what a fishing guide is always going to say , right?  Well, its true.  Things are shaping up, have cleared up, and we are back to fishing.  The past two weeks, here has been the scoop….

We made a return to cooler (seasonable) weather…..that warm weather may feel nice but we do well in cold weather, and very little competition from other anglers! Small stream and tailwater fishing has been good, we had great days the past month in all kinds of weather and anyone who has ventured out with me has done well. We are catching numbers of fish, and some trophy sized fish as well. When you have been guiding for three decades you find ways to work in all kinds of weather, the bills gotta get paid. We catch fish in all weather.  Stoneflies, early browns and blacks, continue to be active as well as Aminephura, sp. and Allocapnia, sp. stones, the little 18 and 20 sized flies that pour off all our small streams and DH waters in winter. Fish are munching them, one of our trips during the past week with Dr Pat Burney we put 50 fish in the net , mostly with these little flies. I custom tie them, and I sell them. They work…….

As far as tailwaters , they continue to fish great, we have put over 60 20 inch fish in the boat on our floats streamer fishing since early December. Its been phenomenal. When its not streamers, the nymph game has worked well, along with some small blue winged olives and dry fly fishing that are always a winter option here and there. And its not over.  Tailwaters never freeze, and there’s hardly a time you can’t find some fishing on them. There we have fished in everything from teens and blowing blizzard of snow to 60F and sunny…..and caught fish in all of it. Lots of fish.

On the 15th, I guided David Carter, Greensboro, NC, on a float trip in Tennessee.  David and I dropped the boat in around 845am and shoved off, didn’t take long to get into some fish, we had great nymph fishing the first half of the day. Caught fish on deep rigs, two nymph swivel rigs and bounce rigs, did well with both. First half of the day we caught a nice mix of rainbows and browns, probably 3 dozen or so before breaking for lunch.

There were olives beginning to hatch as well. No rising fish yet, but that would come. We pulled over and had a nice hot shore lunch, just before the anticipated 2 hours of low water we thought we’d get based on how TVA has been releasing past couple of days. We had lunch, and just as we finished the water began dropping as the flow dialed back to 285 then 366 giving us three solid hours of great fishing ahead. We caught more on nymph rigs, then switched to dries and caught some on dries, then moved our way down river and switched off to a light low water nymph rig that I love to use on intermediate flows /sluice flows.

David started hammering fish on that one too, and we caught a good many fish on that rig, eventually making it down to one of my favorite stretches where we caught more on the same rig. About 415/420pm the water came on again or had eventually made it down to where we were and it went back up to full flow. We put up the light rigs, got out the heavy nymph rig we started with, and went right back to hammering fish on that. It was excellent. Probably around 5 dozen or 60 fish on the day. No bigs, I think our best fish was 15 inches and that is a quality fish anywhere, especially being a wild fish. Great day….

These trips we cancelled because the particular location we were headed to was either high and muddy or blow out, and all were super extreme cases of that….because we go unless its an extreme situation with flooding, muddy water, or travel issues (snow and ice) getting to and from the river.  Rain, heavy rain, all day rain, part of the day rain, snow, sleet, you name it we fish in all of it and don’t cancel trips based on that unless it is absolutely unworkable.  Anything less, we’re fishing.

2-16-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Todd Collins, Madison , NC, Steve Sowden, Roanoke, Va, NC Mtns, ppd high muddy water where we were fishing….rescheduling to another date

2-18-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Ron Davis, Paul Briggs, Winston-Salem, NC, NC, ppd high muddy water where we were fishing, a shame though tailwater fishing is fine!

2-19-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, NC Mtns, ppd high muddy water where we were headed….continued rain, smaller waters are up and some are muddy but tailwaters are fine….ice/freezing rain not helping matters today

2-20-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Jeff Chalmers, Jim Bolling, Summerfield, NC, NC Mtns, high muddy water where we were supposed to fish, a shame though tailwaters are fine

Wet has been the theme though, and to beat a dead horse I’ll share all of this again.  If this weather has you down you are gonna have to learn to fish in the rain if you want to fish, or at least learn to overlook it. 2018 was a year of record rain and record fishing. Yes, I said that, record fishing. We had great fishing with all the rain……this year will be no different. Those going anyway will find opportunity, that is , those willing to go to plan B or plan C when plan A doesn’t work out. What does this look like? Like planning to fish river A and fish one way but being willing to go to plan B or C and fish another way. Flexibility is key. We are in a wet period, I am not suggesting fishing in flood conditions or red muddy water. But what I am suggesting is fishing right up to that point. Fish still eat in those conditions. Some fishing is better in those conditions than on your ‘perfect’ day. What does this look like specifically? You wanted to wade a small stream but the only option is floating tailwaters…or vice versa. This is going to be another spring where if you don’t fish anyway you might not fish. We are in a wet period, 2018 was a record wet year…wettest on record. 2019 is already starting ahead of that.

While wishing for the perfect conditions day is always at the forefront with and for our clients, perfect rarely ever happens. If we waited on that we’d guide three days a year.  Fishing is an outdoor sport in the elements.   To reiterate from the above we are now only canceling due to these factors…….(1) those where the road conditions (ice , snow) make travel to or from fishing dangerous, and (2) flooding or muddy water to the point that catching fish is not possible…all others we will go anyway or fish in an alternate location or alternate type of trip. No cancels due to it just being a rainy day. We have always been super flexible in every case, and in most cases not requiring a deposit, but we are having to make some significant changes because when someone cancels its often last minute and no way we can fill the spot on such short notice. That’s hard to swallow when there were other people who don’t mind fishing in less desirable conditions and would have fished on that day or who we could have booked for that day.

On a different note we have been steadily working on the launch of our fly business with a site and social media pages . Actually I have tied and sold flies for decades but making it a larger and separate entity …. things are coming along nicely, lots of flies going out the door! Some new logos that I have been playing around with, as well as getting things up and running.

Fishing has been good also on the coast.  Shad have shown up in some of our southernmost coastal rivers and the redfishing has been epic.  My son Ben has been in the reds , catching a lot of them on fly.  He and his best friend, Capt Jud Brock, who runs Muddy Fly Guide Service, and who he used to live with on Wrightsville Beach has been in both the reds and the shad.  He and Ben had some good fishing day before yesterday.  They have some openings also….folks interested can book with Capt Jud  here .  Here are some of them….

NC Delayed Harvest waters will receive their first spring stockings beginning Friday March 1, and stocking will continue through mid month until all waters have been stocked, these waters can be fished at all times and are never closed during any season.  Hatchery Supported waters will close to fishing on end of day Feb 28,2019 and these waters will be stocked through the beginning of April and will reopen to fishing on Apr 6, 2019.  Among the bugs that are active this month, there are…..Baetis (BWO) size 18, Blue Quill Size 16, Quill Gordon size 12-14, Hendrickson size 12 -14 (only lowest elevation waters front slope), Early Black Stones size 14 -16, Early Brown Stones size 12-14, Dun Caddis size 18, and Midges in sizes 20-24 and darker shades.  Click here for a FREE printable March Hatch Chart for our Appalachian Waters.  This applies to NC waters, tailwaters will differ slightly.

Its going to be a good week and upcoming month.  Our March calendar is almost full, as are April and May, and they soon all will be. Our dates are going fast, as always 12 months of calendar of availability is always listed here on our website.  Going to be another great spring.

Tight Lines,

Jeff

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Keeping On’….

Wednesday February 13, 2019 ….Keep on keeping on….that’s what we’ve been doing.  Have had a busy week continuing to churn out some huge fly tying orders……going blind in the process!  Been getting a lot of request for streamers and tailwater flies we’ve been hammering the browns on, and never sold so many large flies.  Its been great.  Folks are finally figuring out that for larger fish you are better off sometimes throwing the big stuff.  Not your ordinary size 6 , 8, and 10 wooly buggers or stuff like it….4 to 6 inch meat flies.  Something that says to a predator that its worth taking a chance on.

Had some great days small stream fishing with Dr Pat Burney , Greensboro, NC, NC mtn wade fishing and we had ,great weather.  It was warm, water was up a little but we had great conditions, we caught a ton of fish, probably 50 or so, and fished two different waters. Water levels are up but clear and the fishing has been, and was, and will continue to be good.

Good is an understatement, it was great. We caught our fish on a variety of double rigs, small dark nymphs (my BnB nymph, SDs, small dark CJs with a bead, Skinny Nelsons, etc, all worked). We landed several quality browns, some wild fish, and a few big rainbows, including one that was a tank….that ate a tiny fly also. Majority of fish ate the little stuff….normal stuff for January. Rainbow spawn is in progress on wild waters and lower elev waters that have a mix of hatchery and wild fish. Great day though….

After the warm few days we had a mild cool down, cool front and some light drizzle push through the mountains and a change back to more seasonable temperatures and with our excellent water conditions we’ll have great fishing right through it very likely without skipping a beat. A great winter fishing season continues, and no sign of being any different. Lots of great winter fishing left, spring isn’t here yet even though a lot of the trees in the mtns are already heavy with developing buds. Things are thawing, the ground has been frozen for a while and lots of water locked up in the ground, the thawing ground releases in a ‘slow drain’ fashion fresh, green water into the river. Its great for the river and everything in it.

Had some good end of the week streamer fishing with client Dr Jim Kramer, and  we did a full day float on the lower South Holston and had a great day, in high dirty flows as the river was in full generation level plus still high and dingy from the nearly 3.5″ of rain that fell Thursday evening.  The area wide had some significant flooding as well.  We had lots of debris in the river on Saturday but we still did well.

That didn’t stop us from pounding out a good day. It was cold, in the 20sF to start, and we had ice in the guides until well after lunch time, but the fishing was good. We caught less numbers but some big fish, one truly large buck brown that is one of the best of 2019 thus far.

We fished sinking lines, the real heavy tips (300 -350gr plus) and some big meat patterns. Probably landed 15 or so but half of them were large fish. We pulled into the ramp at sunset…. today was yet again proof why we don’t cancel when the conditions are less than ideal. Jim put his PB (personal best) brown in the boat , along with several others…..

Return to cooler (seasonable) weather…..that warm weather may feel nice but we do well in cold weather, and very little competition from other anglers! Small stream and tailwater fishing is good, we had great days the past month in all kinds of weather and anyone who has ventured out with me has done well. We are catching numbers of fish, and some trophy sized fish as well. When you have been guiding for three decades you find ways to work in all kinds of weather, the bills gotta get paid. We catch fish in all weather. This week should be another good one, dry few days to start, some rain late week, but nothing major. Stoneflies, early browns and blacks, continue to be active as well as Aminephura, sp. and Allocapnia, sp. stones, the little 18 and 20 sized flies that pour off all our small streams and DH waters in winter. Fish are munching them, one of our trips during the past week with Dr Pat Burney we put 50 fish in the net , mostly with these little flies. I custom tie them, and I sell them. They work……. As far as tailwaters , they continue to fish great, we have put over 60 20 inch fish in the boat on our floats streamer fishing since early October. Its been phenomenal. When its not streamers, the nymph game has worked well, along with some small blue winged olives that are always a winter option. And its not over. Tailwaters never freeze, and there’s hardly a time you can’t find some fishing on them. There we have fished in everything from teens and blowing blizzard of snow to 60F and sunny…..and caught fish in all of it. Lots of fish. Pics don’t lie. But don’t take my word, make me prove it. Let’s go flyfishing!

Cold wet few days the past few days but things have settled down and cooled down a notch further.  Have a bunch of trips coming up, should be a great few days….we’ll certainly be shooting for that.

Tight Lines…!

Jeff

We row Sawyer oars exclusively……I row the Sawyer Squaretops with Shoal Cut blades and wouldn’t row anything else. They’re great!


Fishing Right Through…..

Monday, February 4, 2019 That would be the theme of the winter so far.  Fishing right through.  Those who know me know I fish in anything in terms of weather, and fortunately some clients will also.  Interesting too that fish don’t do what they do when we want, they do what they do when they want.  Their world is one of eat or be eaten, and basically they do those two things …..eat and avoid being eaten, or eat and be eaten,  a third, and that is spawn, and finally a fourth, rest when they are not doing those things.   So outside of that they don’t do anything else.  But the point is they feed when we aren’t willing to be out…..thus, we catch fish in all kinds of weather.  Because for them, eating is life or death….and getting enough.

Have had some up and down flows but great fishing the past two weeks.  The brown trout spawn is done, and rainbows are beginning that right now.  Fishing has been superb on many of our trips.  We have caught some huge browns.  Eight weight rods, heavy lines, bigger flies, and that has been getting the job done.  It has been fun and anyone who has been out with me has been rewarded with a stellar outing.

Had a good Friday/Saturday two day float trip , guided Trip, Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, TN float trip, Ted has booked a ton of days to throw the big stuff and has been rewarded with some great fish and fishing.  The streamer fishing bug continues, flows permitting.

Ted had planned to fish Friday and when Saturday was also open he stayed for that as well. Two days of floating, just short of 23 miles of river. Two totally different days weather wise, Friday was 30s and snowing all day….Saturday was pleasant, cloudy then party sunny and 60F. Couldn’t have had two more opposite days. Spawning areas that have been closed since Nov 1 reopened as well.

We streamer fished a lot on Friday, and had a brief spell of 2hrs when the water was off that we nymph fished a bit and caught some fish doing that, and also tossed some dry flies to rising fish too. Then the water came back on and we picked up where we left off with the streamer game.

We ended up with about 35-40 fish by the end of the day including several large fish on streamers . Saturday we put in mid river and committed to all day streamer fishing, and took advantage of higher flows especially on the lower river, and did very well putting probably 40 to 45 fish in the boat including some bigs….. it was great. Also, several pics of a bald eagle I have seen for weeks on the stretch of the river we were on Saturday…A great two days…… Some of these fish were real eye candy…

We are having a significant mild up the next five days, and the temps all the way through Friday are going to reach 60sF in the mountains and low 70s over in East Tennessee.  Great time to get out and do some fishing, we have openings all week also…..Right now Tuesday 2/5, Wednesday 2/6, Thursday 2/7, and Friday 2/8 are all open/available.  Don’t miss out, some great fishing is available and not many folks out….fish aren’t getting a ton of pressure so its a great time to fish.

Tight lines…

Jeff

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Cold……

Monday January 21, 2019 ……We had a great week last week both float fishing and wade fishing.  Lots of fish were caught, and the unsettled weather that seemingly is ours now almost everyday we’ve fished right through.  Our last float was one of the best I have ever had in any month, and we put a lot of large fish in the boat.  It was great.  But now the cold of winter continues, and its going to be that way for a while til spring arrives.  So what do you do about it?  Fish on…..that’s what we’ll be doing…..

We had some really cold weather to start the week, and snow on a few days.  Mid week I guided a float trip with my longtime client and fellow streamer junkie Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, TN  and met Ted on the upper South Holston.   We decided to take advantage of the continued high but stable flows….as they normally produce great fishing if you know where, when, and how.

Our full intent from start to finish was to throw big stuff on big rods, and we were met with the TVA schedule showing variable flows due to unit testing. So , we were unsure as to whether or not we’d have floatable water all day, as they were changing the schedule from one hour to the next. Turns out though we had good water all day and we had another bannner day of chucking meat.

Some epic streamer eats, probably all total between three and four dozen including about a dozen or so large fish, picture worthy denizens ……. it was great, cold, breezy at times, and the damp chilly cold it feels like when its getting ready to snow. We had cloudy , low, gray skies all day…… which also worked perfectly too with our plan.  We ended up at our takeout, as we usually do, right at dusk.  It was a great day……plus had the river all to ourselves.

At week’s end I did some wade fishing guiding Rick Allen, Archdale, NC.  It was a very chilly day on the river, met Rick bright and early and we were on the river before 8am. It was frosty, the air was cold (20sF) and there was a characteristic nip in the air…..that felt like snow. While there was a slight chance of drizzle later and rain later in the evening, we didn’t expect snow.

That’s exactly what we got.  I keep telling folks you can’t trust a weather app on your phone, and that is why I don’t rely on them for forecasting.  They are terrible.  There was no mention of snow at all.  But that is what we got.  It snowed like crazy…..man do I love fishing in a snowstorm.  And Im not kidding.  It turns the fish on….

We fished double nymph rigs and caught a ton of fish, rainbows and browns, from the first stretch we waded. Probably three dozen fish and the last long deep green run we nymphed before breaking for lunch produced several quality fish, including the best fish of the day, an 18 to 19″ rainbow. We took a break for lunch and that is when the snow squall blew in.

For over an hour it snowed about as hard as it can snow dumping several inches (3-4″ ?) in that length of time. We fished another long stretch and caught maybe a half dozen fish more before calling it a day at 4pm, ending in a shower of sleet. A 40 fish day, and got to fish in a surprise snow squall…..my favorite fishing for sure. I love fishing in the snow. Great day though, our last group of fish were all rainbows. We quit and then headed back to a car wash I use a lot and used the bay there to take our gear off.

A cold weekend in the mtns also, we had bitter cold temps behind the front that brought the rain. Things changed quickly , a “flash freeze” where rain ends and everything quickly freezes up and high winds arrive and create an event of prolonged snow showers. “NW Flow” snow showers are what occur, and that is what went on and is going on this morning before it tapers off.

What NW flow is is when we get a large potent low moving through dumping a large amount of rain. That is followed by a cold front behind it ushering in high winds, usually 25 to 35mph with gusts up to near hurricane strength (65mph>). When the NW winds start, and blow over the just saturated ground, it forces the moist air upslope .

In our area, its a saturated East TN and Southwest VA that feeds this sort of thing. Moist air is forced upslope where the moisture content is magnified and the air is cooled further and it produces a prolonged light snow shower event that can pile up some impressive snows. This one won’t amount to more than 2 to3″ but the winds are fierce. One more day (Tuesday) of this and we are back to fishing. Winter weather isn’t an unusual or ‘Less productive’ time to fish….quite the contrary. Our last day out was really cold (Friday/Sat) and we put almost 50 fish in the net. Cold does NOT stop fishing.


For Monday 1/21, I had scheduled a trip with Matt Baldwin, N Platte, WY, but we ended up postponing  due to single digit temps in the mtns…will be rescheduling.  In low temps such as that you can catch fish, and I have done it, many , many times, but you are cracking ice off the rod every three to five casts, and everything freezes up.  Boots, boot strings (making it hard to get the waders off), waders, you name it.  A warm up is coming though.

After Monday 1/21 and Tuesday 1/22 we will get about a three day reprieve of decent fishing weather before the next cold shot arrives on Saturday 1/26.  It will be a lot like the past cold blast.  It looks like mid week or Wed, Thurs, and Friday will offer a good shot at getting out fishing.  To anyone interested, I have availabililty on those days.

Stay warm…..spring is coming!

Tight Lines,

Jeff

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The one that got away because Jeff dropped it….it was huge….

 

 

 


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….

Jeff

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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.