Our recent reports from our guided fly fishing in Tennessee, and the southeast. Including current fishing reports for the Clinch River, Holston River, Hiwassee River, Caney Fork River, Toccoa River and the Cumberland River. If our most recent report isn't recent enough, contact us for fresh info.
July 6th, 2015
Happy Fourth of July weekend to you. I hope this holiday weekend was fun filled and that everyone is rested and ready for the rest of summer. All of the Rocky Top Anglers guides took the weekend off and I must say it was much needed. This spring was the busiest on record, in fact it’s been nonstop since March. Now we’re several weeks into summer and it looks like the action will go on forever. We’ll, I’m sure we’ll slow down a bit in September but that seems like a long ways off.
June may go down as one of the hottest on record here in east TN. We had 17 or so days in a row over 90 degrees. Not only was it hot but it was also exceptionally dry. Even a little too dry for my taste. Low and behold, here comes July and it brought the gift of water in the form of heavy rains and clouds. However, I don’t recall a more comfortable first week of July ever. Clouds and showers have been persistent for several days now and that kept the temperatures comfortable. I have noticed that TVA is scheduled to be raising flows over the next few days, but everything is still fishable….for now anyway. The forecast calls for a drying trend and much more normal July like weather.
The fishing has been awesome, good, tough and a bit challenging at times. The Clinch had one of the most incredible sulphur seasons that I’ve ever seen, and that’s no BS. At times you couldn’t even see the water because of the sheer number of sulphur duns on the surface. It made for some of the most incredible fishing and some of the toughest fishing I’ve ever seen. The first few weeks of the emergence were easy. Super easy. Then came the heart of the hatch and your flies were completely useless if they didn’t have six legs and two tails…..and tied to a 7x, 20’ leader.
The big hatches are about wrapped up and things are getting back to normal. We’ll still see a good amount of sulphurs and the fish will be happy to eat them up. Fewer bugs on the water mean more aggressive fish. They can’t be as picky as they were a few weeks ago, when they could reject naturals just because they didn’t like the flutter of their wings. The river is in great shape and the fish are happy. I’m expecting the next month or so to be very solid fishing if our water flows cooperate.
The east side of Knoxville has seen some of the most reliable action. The Holston tailwater has continued to fish well throughout our extended winter and late spring. It seems the water temperatures are continuing to hold very well and the fishing should remain dependable, especially in the upper sections of the tailwater. A mixture of caddis, sulphurs and midges have been hatching daily and the fish may key on one or another. Other than that they’ve not been that picky as long as you match the menu item they’re eating. Solid action can be had on a variety of techniques so pick your favorite and have fun.
In other news, July 1st marked the start of a new era here in Tennessee. This past winter TWRA created a new required “Guide License” and July 1st marked the first day that people needed one of the new licenses to guide anglers. The license is easy enough to get. It requires no real credentials and anybody with the money can buy one. The cost for a TN resident is $153 while nonresidents will pay $653. This is a yearly fee. Hopefully, extra monies from the sale of these licenses will go to good use. I’d really like to see a few requirements put in place to be eligible for a guide license, like those KY requires. I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes.
Speaking of Kentucky, My 2015 Kentucky guide license showed up last week. KDFWR requires potential guides to be certified in first aid and CPR, be certified with a boating certificate, provide 2 character references, pass a criminal background check and possess a Coast Guard Captains License. Oh yea, and a $400 dollar fee for a non-residents. I’ve got all my stuff in order and the process was very easy, and fairly quick. I’d like to see TN’s system come up to par with what our neighbors to the north are doing. Anyway, I’m now actively booking Cumberland River trips for late summer and fall.
Many of you have shared great memories with me on the Cumberland River for some time now. The river has made a great recovery and is fishing more like the Cumberland of old. Summer is a time for terrestrials, nymphs and my favorite…..streamers. We rarely fish the Cumberland for quantity. Quality is what we go for in Kentucky and I’m thinking we’re going to get quality this year. Give me a call or email if you’re interested in taking a late summer or fall trip to the Cumberland River. Dates are beginning to fill and will be very limited as we get closer to August. I have all the information for lodging and will be happy to help you plan a great trip Cumberland River trip.
I’ve got to be honest with you. I’ve got to get my butt on the vise and pump out a couple dozen bugs for this coming week. As much as I’d rather keep telling stories, I suppose duty calls. In the meantime, take a look at some of the pictures from the last few weeks and give me a call when you’re ready to plan your next fishing adventure.
See you on the river,
May 14th, 2015
Happy middle of May to you and welcome to a fresh fishing report. Spring is passing us by like water under the boat and I hope you’ve had a chance to get out and enjoy it. It’s been a very busy year and I’m happy to say that the fishing has been nothing short of spectacular here in the Volunteer state.
East Tennessee has seen a lot beautiful weather over the past few weeks. Every day sees a chance for a short afternoon shower but we’ve seen very little rain, so little in fact that I wouldn’t mind seeing an inch or two in a couple of watersheds. When was the last time you heard me say that? I’m guessing never. Flows are fairly low on our local rivers and are very workable. The water is super cold and very clear. A little more water would probably be optimal but I’m pretty happy with the current conditions.
Low water conditions can present some challenges but none that can’t be handled with a spool of 9x and a size 34 midge pupa. I’m just joking….it’s not that bad, but you do need to be on your game. Good cast, good mending and long drifts will produce fish. Long leaders and 6x fluorocarbon tippet will help find good fish. Set your drag to protect the tippet and use your rod to absorb head shakes.
Pay attention to the bugs you see hatching but be ready to change as the bite changes. Midges will be busy in the morning hours so fish small until you see larger bugs. Caddis will begin emerging by mid morning and usually continue most of the afternoon. Fish caddis emergers and soft hackles until the egg laying begins in the afternoon, then pull out the dry flies. The sulphurs have finally showed up. Some days are heavier than others but the fish are responding to them either way. We’re working a classic dry / dropper for this hatch and it’s working well.
I’ve been hearing some strong reports from my trusted friends in Kentucky. Tales of caddis hatches and streamer eating pigs have been passed along and I’m fairly optimistic that we may be spending some time on the Cumberland this summer. Kentucky was pounded by snow, ice and rain for most of the winter and early spring so flows are still a little high. Look for exciting action in the bluegrass state if the watershed can dodge summer monsoons.
The best fishing in northeast Tennessee has been on the Watauga River. The famous caddis of Elizabethton are popping and the action is hot. Great fishing can be had on all your favorite tactics. Nymphing is very productive, Streamers are moving nice fish and dry flies are making dreams come true. The South Holston has been a little stale, especially in comparison to it’s nearby neighbor. But, it’s still the SoHo and you’re never far from a trophy brown. The sulphurs have been slow to show up so things could change quickly when those little orange jewels invade.
Several strong reports have come through the grapevine that the Caney Fork is starting to fish. My friend and fellow guide David Knapp, says the bite is strong and the flows are good. I’m happy to hear this news about the Little Cumby. Center Hill Dam is undergoing the same remediation project that Wolf Creek Dam required. The effects on the Caney were not good, much like what we saw on the Cumberland for the past 5 years. I’m hoping the Caney rebounds like the Cumberland has. It’s a great tailwater that I know many of you would enjoy as much as I have. I think I was 5 when I caught my first Caney Fork trout. Dad and I would fish all day, or until we caught our limits. Back in those days everyone practiced “hook it and cook it” and my Dad’s fried cornmeal trout was the best. He complemented it with slaw, hush puppies and home fried taters and it was so good that we’d eat it for breakfast and dinner. Anyone else feeling a little hungry or is it just me?
We’ve hit our guide season stride and that’s not looking to change anytime soon. Our clients are having great days playing with hard fighting fish, eating the best lunches on the river and enjoying the beautiful spring scenery of east Tennessee. We have a few open days left in May and June dates are filling quickly. Give me a call when you’re ready to get in on the action.
See you on the water.
May 6th, 2015
Hello angling friends. April has come and gone like a blur and we've been keeping the rivers hot. I really don't have time to update the fishing report but I added a few pictures from April and early May. As you can see the fishing has been very good. Flows have been a little erratic but it appears things are starting to level out. The bite is good so now is the time to get out and enjoy it. I'll try to get a little better report together here in the next few days. For now, please enjoy the recent pictures.
March 30th, 2015
Hello friends, It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. On the computer that is. My laptop blew its fan back in early February and I thought I could replace it. You know how it is….a few Google searches, a couple of videos on you tube, and an Amazon order for a new fan. I can do this. What could go wrong? Well, a month and a half later, a visit to a computer repair shop and $80 later….I’m back online. Lesson learned I suppose.
The calendar says that April is on our door step and that means we’ve made it through winter and the fishing is about to take off. It also means TVA will be shutting down most area hydro plants in order to fill the reservoirs to desired summer pool levels. In fact, the summer fill usually begins in the middle of March. This year we endured a very wet February and a few of our reservoirs shot up well above seasonal guidelines. So we’ve spent the last month watching TVA flush the system. Hopefully, the high waters of winter are in our rearview mirror and great conditions are here for a while.
We’ve been fishing all over our service area this year as we searched for favorable water flows. The fishing has been solid everywhere we’ve been able to cast our lines but things are about to get a lot better. Spring fishing is some of the hottest action of the year. Trout always eat heavily in the spring as they come out of their winter routine. The fish will be looking to fatten up and the increased insect activity that comes with spring gives them a perfect opportunity.
The next two months will see several major caddis hatches. The grannon caddis are one of the most targeted emergences and they will be important. This hatch is fished best with wet flies early, dry flies mid-day, and skated flies late. Sizes can be between 14 and 16. Don’t forget the smaller black caddis because the fish love them too. May will bring the sulphurs and I’m pretty sure sulphurs are everybody’s favorite mayfly hatch.
The Clinch River and the Holston River flows are looking great currently and should remain favorable barring any massive rain events. So we’re expecting to spend a lot of time local to Knoxville over the next few months. The Toccoa River is also seeing favorable flows for those interested in a smaller tailwater. We’re keeping a close eye on the Cumberland, Caney Fork and the South Holston and they too should be in play very soon.
We still have a few days open for April and our May bookings are picking up. Give us a call when you’re ready to hit the water for your spring trip.
February 7th, 2015
Welcome to 2015. It seems the seasons come and go so quickly that it’s hard to get settled into one season before the next ones knocking at the door. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing during winter seeing how it’s the slowest time of the year. The good news is winter is well on its way out, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast of a lingering winter. We’re having a mild winter in my book. We’ve seen some cold weather but we’re also getting a good mix of pleasant weather in between cold snaps. My advice is to keep an eye on the forecast because any day of pleasant weather will make a great day to be out on the water.
The local area tailwaters have been giving fishable water flows most every day. Some windows are longer than others but if you want to fish somewhere bad enough, you’ll find a suitable flow and go fishing. All of our reservoirs or slightly under winter pool levels so you can expect to see lowest water flows with periods of light to little rain. Rainy weather systems will raise flows for a few days up to a few weeks depending on the rainfall amounts. Either way, we’re inching closer to spring and the annual reservoir filling that all of us tailwater anglers cherish.
Now for the details we all love. When you can get on the water you can expect to catch some fish, maybe not as many as you’ll be catching next month….but enough to make it worth your time for sure. And for those who prefer catching a few nice ones over a lot of commons, this is a great time to be out on the water. It is still winter time however and you should use your best winter time tactics. Fish slow, and on the bottom unless you find risers. Then you still fish slow on the surface.
Streamers and nymphs have been productive. Again, whichever you choose you should plan on getting your flies down and fishing them very slow. If you’re pulling streamers you’re going to want to use a sinking line and use a slow retrieve. Just fast enough to keep it from hanging up. Those who’d rather nymph need to pay close attention to their nymph rigs. Use an indicator that you can quickly adjust to keep your nymph bouncing on the bottom. Adjust your depth in every hole to make sure you’re getting it down. Add split shot if you need to. Now get a long drag free drift and swing it out. Patterns are not as important as presentation but if you’re making good presentations and not finding the fish, go smaller. Think midges. Risers will likely be eating emerging midges and are best targeted with small emergers in the 22-24 range. Again, make slow presentations and you’ll find fish.
So, what’s on the horizon? The spring season and all of the great fishing it can carry with it. Spring is always a very busy time of year for us and it’s easy to see why. The weather is nice, the bugs are hatching and the trout are hungry and active. March 1st is the first day of spring in my books and I expect the fishing to be very good. Especially if the current results are any indicator of things to come. Our books are filling fast for coming season, especially April. So give us a call if you’ve got a spring trip in mind.
In other news…. The TWRA has raised license prices across the board. The cost of fishing is going up in Tennessee for residents and nonresidents alike. It’s the first time they’ve raised the cost of fishing license in over 15 years. They claim the cost of doing business made it a necessity and I can understand that. Everything is more expensive to operate these days and TWRA is funded solely by license sales. The new rates will not go into effect until June of this year, so buy your license before then to get them at the current rate. The increase takes the yearly nonresident license cost close to $100. The cost increase is minimal in all honesty but TWRA also passed a few other items. One particular item they passed concerned eliminating the one day fishing license. I and many others think this was a very poor decision and hopefully we’ll get this fixed ASAP. You can let them know what you think about things via this link. TWRA.firstname.lastname@example.org
In a surprise that shocked many, myself included, TWRA has voted for and approved a guide license for Tennessee. I know many of you who have fished with me over the years have heard my opinion on a Tennessee guide license. I may be one of the only guides in my area who supported the idea of a guide license. The proposal always had strong support from the NE TN coldwater guides. But the thought of a guide license was always argued against by many guides, and this includes about 10 warmwater guides for every one coldwater guide. Well, it’s here now so we’ll see how well it goes. Currently, a resident guide license is going to cost about $244 a year. A nonresident guide license is going to be a wee bit higher, higher to the sound of $1200 a year. Yikes…..That is high but I think it’s a fair price to any full time guide and the price fits the quality of rivers Tennessee has to offer. These monies raised should be very beneficial to TWRA and their programs. I’m very hopeful anyway.
Well friends, that’s the skinny from east Tennessee. Give me a call if you’d like to hear more about our current conditions of if you’d like to get on the books for your spring fishing trip.
November 23rd, 2015
Where has this year gone? It’s funny how quickly the weeks pass when you’re busy. Seems we were just getting into to fall fishing and now winter is smacking us in the face. Well, the weather has made it feel like winter even though we’re still a week or so out on Thanksgiving and a month away from winter proper. The good news is that it looks like we’re going to see a warm up this coming week. My best tip for this time of year is layers. Dress in many layers that can be added or removed as needed throughout your day. Layering with wicking base layers and insulating outer layers will keep you warm and active during most outside activities during the colder months. Add a good rain suit and you’re basically ready to tackle anything Mother Nature throws at you. I should add that packing spare clothes is very important just in case you find yourself soaked from an unexpected swim.
We’ve been battling high water on some of our rivers since the epic rain we received in the middle of October. A few of our other rivers have been more favorable options since last month’s rain hit some watersheds harder than others. Each reservoir is different and operation guides vary greatly from one river to the next. Currently, most of our rivers are getting very close to the desired winter pool levels. The TVA and Corps of Engineers will stop the heavy drain of area reservoirs and adopt a flow regiment that holds the lake at the desired level through winter. Low rain fall amounts will result in prolonged periods of low water while a heavy rain system could raise the lakes several feet and bring a return to around the clock generation.
The fishing has been very good or very challenging. There hasn’t been a lot of in the middle. Weather patterns and shifts seem to be our biggest factor. The fish will eat much better with a steady weather system. It doesn’t matter if it’s a low pressure or warm pressure, the fish just like for it to stay the same. Frequent changes in the weather will result in more of a sluggish bite. It’s sometimes hard to plan much more than two or three days ahead here in the south. Our weather can change quickly and forecast can often miss their mark. Sometimes short notice fishing trips are what you’re left with. Shoot for the second or third days of each steady weather system.
Clinch River- Lake levels are coming around slowly but surely. We’re currently just below 1000’, which is the winter pool guideline. We should be seeing fishable flows very soon. High water streamer fishing has been hit or miss which is the norm for streamer fishing. Sometimes you hit them and sometimes you strike out. Emerger fishing has been good in the normal high water eddies. Low water should bring some great nymph fishing.
Holston River – Cherokee Lake is below winter pool and flows are coming along nicely. We’re seeing workable windows now and the fishing has been very solid. I’m expecting these windows to be fairly consistent over the next few weeks. Weekends may even offer extended low water windows. Indicator Nymphing is the way to go right now. Sunny days will bring good midges but the best bite has still been on the bottom.
Watauga River – The Watauga has seen our most dependable flows. Dependable and stable flows are always our favorite because you know the fish are acclimated to the river and the flow. The best bite has been on medium streamer gear and medium sized streamers like a #6 Bugger. Sinking line is a must. The nymph bite has been somewhat sluggish in comparison to the streamers. However, soft hackle emerger fishing is fairly solid in the afternoons. Think olive emergers.
South Holston – Water flows have been much lower on the SoHo than I like. More wading opportunities than normal though, so if you like wading the South Holston is the way to go. They will release some water most everyday so plan your location and times carefully. We’re still seeing a lot of little BWOs and a fair amount of sulphurs. So dry/emerger fishing can get you into the fish. High water is best fished with heavy nymphs on the bottom or streamers.
Caney Fork – The Caney is still blowing a lot of water, much like it has over the last few months. The river has fished well when we’ve caught lower water but low water has been very limited to say the least. The lake is close to the desired construction safe level. So, dry weather should allow some windows of low water.
Cumberland River – The Cumberland has been blown out for what seems like forever. I’ve heard a few good high water reports but the flows are even higher now than when I heard the reports. It goes without saying that I’ve not spent much time in Kentucky this fall, and unless we see a winter drought I might not be back in Kentucky this winter. So, we’re turning our eye towards spring and the hope of good water flows on the Cumby.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) held the first ever Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Challenge back in October. Many people came together at Museum of Appalachia in Norris Tennessee for a fund raiser featuring a great meal, some very nice auction items, a few local celebrities, and many American Heroes.The food was great and the auction went well. But the highlight of the evening was to here these heroes tell their stories.
The next morning saw Veterans and guides gathering together for the fishing tournament.Ten of the areas best guides paired off with veterans and sponsors for a 9:00 launch time. I fished with David Folkerts and Bob Ensign. Everyone had a great time and some very nice fish were caught. It was a great honor to be able to help out with event and to see the joy that fly fishing brings to these young men and women.
For those who are not familiar with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.™ is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings. It’s a great organization and the results of their work is nothing short of miracles for some of these men and women who have fought for our country. Take a look at their website and think about what you might be able to do to help out.
We'll see you on the river.
October 11th, 2014
Here we are, 11 days into October and fall is marching into east Tennessee. I’ve found myself with an unusual day off on a Saturday. My trip for today cancelled due to recent weather and the current forecast, so I’m catching up on tying flies and writing a new fishing report. I’m not complaining, a break during the busiest month of the year isn’t a bad thing. Plus, it looks like I might get to see my Vols win a game this afternoon. I sure hope they win anyway…..but that’s another story.
There’s really nothing new to report as far as the fishing goes. Please refer to the fishing report from a few weeks ago to see the what’s and where’s. The action is still very good and we’re still hooking up with really nice fish. We’re landing a good percentage of them as you can see by the recent photos on the right. Of course, we’re losing some of the battles but that’s just part of the game when you’re fishing to high quality fish while using very light tippets. These fish are not recent stockers and they sure don’t fight like stockers.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with fishing for recent stocked fish. That’s always been the name of the game on the Hiwassee, at least since the late 80’s during the end of the Hiwassee’s reign as a top tailwater. There’s just something special about these fish we find on the top quality tailwaters in Tennessee like the Clinch and Holston Rivers. The trout are stocked as fingerlings and in some cases are stream born. From this point, the optimal conditions of the rivers take over. These tailwaters have huge supplies of very cold water and they possess a very high biomass. Its perfect conditions for trout to grow big and prosper.
Large holdover fish are much tougher to catch than a recent stocker. You can’t just tie on any old pattern and swing it to them. These fish have been living in the river for a long time and they know what food their used to seeing and eating. You’ve got to match their food base and you’ve got to present it to them in the proper manner. A smooth and soft casting stroke coupled with a great drift will get strikes, but you can expect a challenging day if you’re casts are sloppy or if you’re not getting the job done in the mending department. Some might call this technical fishing and I’d have to agree with the assessment. However, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Patience and attention to the process of casting a presenting will find success.
Getting holdover fish to bite is just the first part of the game. Now comes fighting and landing these strong, hefty fish. Holdovers are well experienced in how to escape the anglers hook. They learn skills like how to shake a hook or break a line from past experiences with anglers. So you’ve got to be on your game once you hook into one of these fish.
First lesson is to get your rod tip high in the sky. This will let the flex of your rod absorb hard head shakes and runs. Now, get tension on the line and keep that tension as you strip the line in. Get the slack line on your reel as soon as possible, but don’t lose tension on the line. Always be prepared to give line when the fish turns and runs. Either by allowing line to pass through your stripping fingers or preferably by letting the fish take line from the reel. Taking line from the reel will let the drag system slow the fish down and protect your light tippet. You should reel in the line as you can but always be prepared for another run. Use your high rod tip to steer the fish away from structure and towards the net.
Landing one of these fish is very rewarding and you’ll understand the difference between holdover and stocker once you’ve tangled with one of them. These fish get big because they are the alpha trout in the river as opposed to being the first fish to the pellets at the hatchery. Come check them out this fall…you’ll be glad you did.
September 30th, 2014
Fall is here! Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love summer as well as the joy spring brings as it breaks through the long cold winter. But neither comes close to competing with fall’s splendor. The fall season brings a welcomed relief from summer’s heat and humidity, giving us light jacket mornings and short sleeved afternoons. Fall brings on one of nature’s most beautiful shows as the fall colors come to life, setting the hillsides of east Tennessee a blaze with vivid orange, yellow and red leafs. Let’s not forget the reason that I love fall the most….the fishing. Fall fishing is my favorite of the year and this fall promises to be very special.
We have a wide variety of great destinations available for fall. These rivers have been fishing very well all season and we’re expecting the best fishing of the year on the horizon. If you’re looking for a great fishing trip between now and Christmas, these rivers will be right up your alley.
Clinch River. We’ve had an impressive summer on the Clinch and conditions are looking very good for us as we head into fall. Norris Lake is just under 1006’ and falling, slowly dropping to the 1000’ winter pool guideline. We’re seeing a mix of low and high water, which is fairly common for this time of year. These flows are very workable and should fit into our fall schedule very well. TVA is ahead of schedule right now so we could see a lot of low water conditions this fall if the watershed dodges any large fall rain events.
We’re having success with a variety of techniques but Nymphing has still been our bread and butter. Nothing new here…. long leaders + fine tippets + little bugs = bites. Then it takes a steady hand, a smooth drag and one cool character to land these bad boys. We’re also seeing success on streamer rods as the high water takes over. Black and red streamers are getting the most attention.
Cumberland River. That’s right….I said the Cumberland River. Many of you have experienced fall on the Cumberland and know how special this time of year can be. I’m filling my October and November calendar and a lot of that time is going to be in Kentucky. If you’ve been itching for the past 5 years for another great fall trip on the Cumby…..now’s the time. The river has recovered well from the dam repair project and it’s acting like the Cumby of years past. This should be a great fall and I’m so looking forward to it.
Nymphing is the dominant technique right now. Terrestrials were so so this summer but the subsurface bite has been strong. Midges and attractor mayfly nymphs seem to be the best line of attack. Think anchor bug and midge dropper.
South Holston River. Fishing is good right now and will be getting better. The next month will see the brown trout begin their spawning run. This will start with pre-spawn activity of heavy feeding and active movement upstream. This is a great time to target large brown trout with streamers, and even nymphs. Several portions of the river will close on November 1st so you’ll need to fish it in October if you want to fish the whole river.
Best action lately has been with heavy nymphs fished deep. Think 8 foot deep or more and tungsten nymphs. Streamers are starting to get good responses and this trend should continue to become more important. Large streamers will be eaten by large predators.
Caney Fork River. The bite is very strong and we are catching a lot of fish. These are probably the smallest fish were seeing on average, but we are picking up a random slot fish. I’ve seen a few really nice fish that have seen us as we approached.
The fish are not very picky right now. It seems like any pattern sized between #16 and #20 will do. Fish it on an adjustable indicator and keep it adjusted to be just off the riverbed. I’m starting to see a push of larger browns moving into the upper tailwater.
Our October is filling quickly, November will follow close behind. Give us a call for availability. I'll see you on the river.
September 17th, 2014
Hey there friends. I'm running way behind on a fishing report so I'm going to try and get a quick report out this evening. I've been working pretty hard lately and it's been a pleasure becaue the action has been very good . I've been in a dawn patrol routine for a few weeks now. Putting on at daybreak, fishing hard for 8-10 hours, then tying flies and smoking something in the smoker for lunch...pretty busy day but man is it worth it. I love my job.
I'm working several rivers right now.I've been splitting time between the Clinch, Caney Fork, South Holston and Holston. The fishing bite has been solid in all locations and we're hitting some quality fish. Getting these fish to bite isn't an issue...landing these fish on the light line tactics we're using is a little more of a challenge. It sure is fun to trying to bring these hard fighters to the net.
Nymph fishing has been our standard line of attack. We're fishing long leaders and tapering them down to very small tippets. We're producing on a variety of nymph and pupae patterns. Size is probably more important than pattern. Make sure you bring some fine yarn for indicators and leave the rest of your bobber selection at home. These fish are big, wise and very spooky....but oh so rewarding when you put one in the net.
I'm beginning to fill my calendar for October and November. As many of you know, these two months see some of of the best fishing of the year. I can't imagine our fishing being any better than it already has this year, but I'm grinning ear to ear anticipating what fall has in store for us.
I will be booking Cumberland River trips this fall if we have workable flows, and it's looking like we will. So if you've been waiting for the Cumberland to be back on our table....the time has come.
The South Holston will be a hot destination for us through October as pre spawn browns prepare for their fall dance.
Both of the Knoxville area tailwaters have performed well every day out and fall is sure to be a blast.
Fall colors and wonderful weather are on the horizon.
Oh yea, Check out our new youtube channel. I'm hoping to put cool videos up from time to time and I've started things off with some great action from my recent trip with Kyle B.
Give me a call and we'll have a great time on the water together.
August 18th, 2014
Summer’s rolling on along as fall looms on the horizon. I can always tell when fall is about to hit because Tennessee Football is all you see on the news and Wal-Mart’s sporting goods is over flowing with this year’s crop of hunting supplies. I’ve got high hopes for my Vols this season but we’ve got one of the hardest schedules in the country so we’re going to have to work for a six win season and a bowl invite. As for the hunting, I love it because more people will lay down their rods and pick up their guns, leaving the rivers less crowded with more eager fish for our flies. Football and hunting, coming soon….fall is on the way. Great fishing, well that’s here now.
We’ve moved into our summer time schedules. We’re hitting the rivers early to beat the heat and it seems to be working. We tend to make it three or four hours before it ever gets warm. We’ve also experienced a good amount of clouds and sprinkles lately and that’s leant a hand to keeping us comfortable as well. Remember plenty of sunscreen and to bring your raingear. The fishing has been good so be ready to take whatever Mother Nature throws at you and fish hard.
I’ve been splitting my time between a few different rivers, and all of them are fishing very well. The only considerations you need to worry about is where you want to visit and what are the flows. Flow schedules are about to change on many of our tailwaters but this doesn’t mean we won’t have good conditions.
Clinch River – TVA is showing a higher average flow for this week than their previous month. We still have a great window at prime water so for the time being, things are still good to go here. Draw down for Norris Lake will begin in earnest next month. The good news is, the lake is almost 8 foot below normal summer pool so draw down might not be a huge deal this year. Water temperature has been measuring between 49 and 51 degrees.
Fishing has been solid to say the least. The bite is best from early morning to mid-day. Low light and fog will help you remain unnoticed by the trout. Allowing the fish to feed with little regard to you, as long as you don’t give yourself away. This is the time of year that you need to be on your game. You’ve had all spring and summer to tune up and now’s the time to put all those skills to the test. Pull out your 12’ leaders and don’t even bring anything larger than 5x tippet to the river. 6x and 7x will bring you more action….but you’ve got to be gentle if you want your fly back. Look for small #18 black caddis and #20 or smaller midges in the mornings. Some sulphurs are still coming off in the afternoon, with higher flows bringing more emergers.
South Holston River – TVA did manage to reach summer pool on the South Holston. They recently began drawdown and this is a time we all love. We’re seeing some early mornings with a few hours of wadable water, and then drift boat flows for the afternoon. Expect to see high water on most days by 10am so pay attention to the flow schedules.
Low water has been best with small midges, and I mean small. #20 -#26 stripper midge pupas have been working well. Bring your long, fine leaders from the Clinch because you will need them on low water. High water has brought some sulphurs and some blue winged olives. High water will allow you to upsize your tippet a bit, but you still can’t use 4x. Nymphing has been our bread and butter with #14 - #16 tungsten pheasant tails and orange scuds getting the job done. The big browns will be on the move soon. We just love fall and large browns.
Caney Fork – Center Hill Lake is still being held at a special level as work on the dam continues. Flows on the lake will reflect recent rains as the USCOE try to keep the lake at a stable level. Current flows are allowing early day low water windows. These windows are typically longer the further down river you are from the dam because flows have been starting between 9 and 11 am. Fly selection hasn’t been as important as a good drift. Nymphs are catching plenty of fish so pick your favorite beadhead and wear’em out. High water in the afternoon has best been fished with streamers or terrestrials.
Fall is just around the corner and as many of you know, it’s our busiest season of the year. Now’s the time to pick your fall dates and get them on the books.
We’ll see you soon on the water.
August 1st, 2014
What the Sam Hill is going on?
It’s been two months man….you still alive?
Yo Rock, how’s the fishing?
These have been common questions in my email box as of late. It’s nice to know you all notice when I’ve let the fishing report page go untouched for a spell. We’ll we’ve been fishing and the fishing has been as rock solid as you will ever find in July. Now August is rolling in and I really don’t see any signs of it stopping.
We were blessed with a very mild July. We had many days with highs in the low 80’s and even a few days that stayed in the high 70’s. We did have one storm system come through that brought a few tornados to the Clinch River watershed and while we certainly didn’t enjoy that…..the cooler weather has been nice. I can’t tell you what to expect for August other than it’s summer and anything can happen. Best tips for this time of year are be prepared for the afternoon pop up showers that are always a possibility and a good dose of sunscreen should be applied often.
Now, to answer the question that everybody has been asking…..”How’s the fishing”? Well, we’ve been having a great time and we’re tangling with some very nice fish. Every day out on the river brings fresh opportunities at the best the river has to offer. We’re using our most guarded and special techniques to get the fish to bite. Then the battle is on and lately the fish have been beating us a little more often than we beat them. Long, fine tippets and large fish don’t go well together but it sure is exciting and sometimes rewarding when the angler skillfully brings a quality rainbow trout into the net. Here’s what’s happening at a quality tailwater near you.
Clinch River – Norris Lake has hovered around 1012’ for most of the summer. 1020’ is normal. This is a result of a regional drought in the Clinch River watershed. The lower lake levels may be a huge problem on the lakes, but it hasn’t seemed to hurt the tailwaters below the dams. Every day has had floatable water and getting on the river hasn’t been a problem. This should go on for at least the next four weeks and maybe even longer depending on rainfall amounts in the coming month. The river is ice cold and in a pretty clean state right now.
The fish have been educated over the past few months but you can still get them to eat. You just have to go to longer tippets, tapered down to 6 or 7X. You must make good casts and great drifts. This is the time to put those excellent mending skills to the test. Set your drag and be ready to use it because you’re going to have to use every weapon you have to land these fish on the light lines. Pattern selection hasn’t seemed as important now that the sulphur hatch has slowed to an occasional dun here and there. Size of the pattern is important. #20 - #24 midge patterns and #18 - #20 mayfly nymphs have been pulling most of the duty.
Holston River – Cherokee Lake never reached summer pool, yet the levels have been climbing steadily since April. It’s currently only 4 feet or so below the normal summer pool levels and with a little rain it could possibly make summer pool before it’s time for the fall drawdown. I’m expecting low water conditions to persist at least through August. The river is still pretty cold in the upper tailwater. I measured 51 degrees last week about an hour after the pulse.
The fishing has been somewhat similar to the Clinch. You’re going to get more bites on 6X tippet. You’re going to land less of these fish on 6X tippet. You must use the bounce in your rod to absorb the head shakes and the drag on the reel to stop long runs. Patterns and techniques can range wildly from fishing dries to caddis eaters to nymphing with midges. Some streamer fishing has even been successful at times. Observe what you see happening and make it happen. Dry caddis patterns will work best in the afternoon #16 - #20. Midge pupa and nymphs between #16- #20 will work in between the rises.
South Holston River – South Holston Lake did reach its intended summer pool level, back in June to be exact. However, low rainfall amounts have limited the flows to the bare minimum. So the wade fishermen have rejoiced. This will continue for at for another month when TVA begins drawing down the lake. Then anglers will find drift boats everywhere and high water a plenty.
I’ve spent some time on the river recently when TVA did have the wheels turning. A friend and I spent time ripping streamers and we had a fair amount of success. We had some strikes from legitimate pigs and we saw a few big follows, but our best fish brought to the net were in the mid teens. Low water is going to be a test of ninja warrior skills. You must wade like a heron, meaning loud footsteps or sloshing around will not put you in the fish. Take your time and use your long delicate tippets and all the skills you’ve learned over the years on these picky fish. High water can see sulphurs hatching. Low water is a midge game and the smaller you go the better your results will be.
Caney Fork River – Center Hill Dam didn’t reach summer pool but that’s not much of a surprise with the Corps of Engineers dam remediation project that’s progressing on the dam. This is the same procedure that was done to Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky, and like Lake Cumberland, Center Hill has been held at 632’ as best as possible for some time now. So we’ve seen some workable flows here and there with the best flow rates coming on the weekends. Weekday schedules have been early bird specials.
The fishing has been pretty good on low water with the best bite coming on small midges and nymphs. A two fly setup with a #16 beaded nymph and a #20 or #22 midge pupa will put you on many fish. You can get away with 5x tippet here and that will let you lean a little heavier against these fish. You can also employ some terrestrial techniques during the mid day sun with modest success.
Well, it’s back to the vise to finish off some flies for tomorrows trip. If this report gets too stale, just call or email and I’ll fill you in on the current happenings.
Catch you on the river.
May 31st, 2014
A few days ago one of my guest jokingly mentioned that I should add a fishing report page to the website. I suppose I had that coming. After all, I’ve not posted a fresh fishing report since the middle of last month. I’d like to offer up an excuse such as I’ve been working my tail off and just haven’t had time to sit down at the keyboard but I have managed to throw up some pictures here and there. While these are true statements, it pains me to use such an excuse after spending an hour chatting with Byron Begley at Little River Outfitters last week.
Byron’s daily routine is busy, busy, busy, but he manages to write a fresh fishing report every morning. And I’m not talking about a “fishing’s good, use this” kind of report. But interesting reports that can direct you to good fishing, tell you the cow standing factor or even point you towards a good place to eat. It’s always a pleasure to read, unlike my personal fishing report that is now well over a month old.
It looks like I’m going to slide in right in the nick of time. In time to get a May fishing report posted that is. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been covered up and the fishing has been fantastic to say the least. It really hasn’t mattered where we’ve fished because the action has been good everywhere. Every day brings quality fish opportunities and so far we’re landing a few and losing a few. These fish sure are fun to tangle with as they will test even the most experienced anglers. Here’s a little synopsis of what and where.
The Clinch River - East Tennessee has experienced a dry spring and the lack of rainfall has impacted many area lakes. Norris Lake is still about 8 feet lower than the TVA’s desired summer pool level. TVA is releasing very little water in an effort to keep lake elevations as high as possible. We’re seeing the bare minimum flows during the week and getting down the river is going to be a little tough. Doable, but tough. Weekends are now operated under recreational schedules calling for low water early, medium flows in the afternoon and high water in the evening. These schedules are a little more forgiving to boat chines. The river is running cold as ice and I’m pretty sure water temps won’t be an issue on the Clinch this season. Water temperatures never seem to be an issue on the Clinch.
The fishing has been pretty hot. At least when you find the fish eating sulphurs. That’s right, the sulphurs have shown up and the fish love them. The real trick is being at the right place at the right time. I’ve seen the hatch start early in the morning and taper off by lunch and I’ve seen the hatch not get going until late afternoon. So I’d target the sulphur nymph as my primary setup, fish a weighted pheasant tail under a strike indicator or a dry sulphur pattern. You can go strictly dry fly after the hatch starts or do like I do….sulphur dry and an unweighted pheasant tail nymph fished in the film. These setup will put fish in the net. Take your time and be mindful of the low water. Use stealth and small tippets to succeed in the spooky, low water.
The Holston River – Cherokee Lake is another lake that did not make summer pool. At least it hasn’t yet and it will take a monsoon for it to make it. The lake is currently about 12 feet below normal summer levels. So, TVA has been sticking to a low water pulsing schedule. These flows are pretty good for wading or floating. The one downside is the lower river is bound to warm up as the weather heats up. The discharge from the dam is still in the mid fifties so we’ve got our fingers crossed for our supply of cold water to make it to fall. I’d imagine the upper river will do fine this year. The lower river will need some rain at some point, just not so much that they drain all the cold water too soon.
The fishing on the Holston is still very good. We’re still seeing a healthy mixed caddis hatch as well as solid sulphur action on most days, especially when it’s sunny. The setup of choice before the hatch has been a nymph rod rigged to fish deep with caddis larvae patterns. Once the hatch is on, you can change up to your dry fly rod and pick your favorite…..caddis or sulphur. The fish will eat both but the caddis are working better as emergers, fished slightly under the surface. They will eat the sulphur duns off the surface. I’d recommend a sulphur dry fly with a soft hackled caddis emerger dropped off the point fly. If you’re fishing the lower river you need to make sure and spend extra time reviving your fish to help insure they make it through the summer.
The Cumberland River – Guess which river is about to back on the map? That’s right, the Cumby. Lake Cumberland is sitting at 722 ft above sea level and the tailwater is seeing traditional summer flows. The Corps keeps the water off in the mornings, and then slowly ramp up in the late morning or early afternoon. It’s these type flows that once made the Cumby an 80 mile long trophy trout tailwater and it’s these kind of flows that will return the river back to its former stature. The river is cold and flowing with good clarity. Things are looking up for our favorite northern tailwater.
My friends and colleagues in Kentucky have been sending some great reports and it appears the river is having a big rebound this year. They’re catching a good amount of slot sized rainbows as well as the occasional over slot specimen. In fact, Brandon Wade from Cumberland Drifters was down last week for a little r and r with his wife. So I got to hear the inside scoop from Brandon.It's got me fired up to be spending a good portion of time on the Cumby this season. And my favorite time of the year is coming up. Summer time terrestrials. Things like ants, beetles, grass hoppers and cicadas represent big, easy meals for hungry trout and the bugs are large enough to bring quality fish to the surface. It’s one of the most exciting ways to fish because of the aggressive strikes and large trout.
It’s going to be a great summer. These rivers and a few others will provide us with great fishing at fantastic destinations. Hopefully it won’t be a month before I add another fishing report but don’t put it past me. I’m going to be keeping the rivers hot, working the tying vise and fixing lunches so my keyboard time will take a backseat. We’ll see you on the river.
April 16th, 2014
What in the world is going on here? It’s been sunny and gorgeous for weeks now and out of the blue comes a winter day. That’s right, a winter day….fully equipped with cold falling temperatures, frigid wind chills and even snow. This has to be some kind of a fluke. I’m blaming this one on my buddy, the ole Rebel himself….Gary M. The last time I saw snow in April was when Gary visited to fish the Holston with me about 7 years ago. Now, he’s on his way to visit again and low and behold here comes the snow. Luckily, it appears this spring blast of winter will be brief as the rest of this week is looking to see spring like conditions returning.
Oh well, the weather is one aspect of our lives that we just have to accept because there’s nothing we can do about it. In fact, as a fishing guide there are very few aspects of our day that we have control over. We sure can’t control the weather or what the Tennessee Valley Authority does with the rivers. The good news here is most of the area tailwaters are giving perfect flows for fishing right now and will be for the next month or so. Come to think of it….lunch is about the only part of our day that we have complete control over and we tend to do a good job with that. Of course we work hard to be prepared for the fishing by tying the right flies and having the right gear on hand so we tend do very well controlling the fishing action.
Anyway, I guess I’m getting off track here. The cold temperatures must have sent me into system shock. The current action and interest from the fish varies from river to river and from one part of the river to the next. For this reason it’s important to put yourself in the right spots at the right time.
The lower Clinch has been a tough cookie for us for most of the past month. We’re finding some fish but overall the fish seem to be podded up and if you don’t get a clean cast to them without spooking them then you will not get a second chance. Once the fish are alerted to your presence they lock up quicker than Y-12 when peace seeking nuns are on the loose. The upper Clinch has been a little more forgiving and is where I’d recommend fishing for those looking to visit the Clinch. Our best results have come on midge patterns sized smaller than #22 and in red or olive colors. I’ve seen a few early sulphur duns on the water and am expecting to see a few more of them in the coming weeks.
The best fishing in east Tennessee is taking place on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam. We have 21 miles of tailwater trout fishery below Cherokee Dam and you’d be hard pressed to find a section of it that’s not fishing well right now. The long awaited caddis have been popping all over the river and the fish have welcomed them with open mouths. We’re also seeing a very full crane fly hatch that the trout are also taking advantage of. Of course the ever present midges are still active but who wants to fool with them when we finally have some large bugs to play with. We’re still spending plenty of time nymphing in the early morning hours and we’re doing quite well with our nymph rods. We’ve upsized a lot of our offerings to include size #14 and #16 patterns as opposed to #18 and #20. Pick your favorite nymphs and work on getting them on the bottom and you’ll do fine. As for the dry fly action in the afternoon, pack your favorite caddis patterns but make sure you can cover a range between #14 and #22. The fish will key on one size and that’s the size you’ll have to match to find success.
We’re keeping our eyes on several other regional tailwaters right now as we’re expecting to see some great action on them soon. We’ll be spending some time on the Caney Fork River later this month as well as visiting the Cumberland River next month. These rivers have been client favorites in the past and we’re expecting to see them both to be very popular this summer. I’m a big fan of fishing terrestrial patterns like hoppers, beetles and ants and the fish are big fans of all of them too. We’ll keep you up to date as things start to pick up on both of these rivers.
If you’re to get on the water next month, you should give us a call soon. May is filling faster than expected and with the awesome fishing on the Holston I expect us to be booked at over 90% by the end of April.
Remember to keep an eye on our facebook page for fresh updates on quality catches and conditions between our fishing reports here.
We’ll see you on the water.
Captain Rocky Cox
March 3oth 2014
Is it spring? Is it winter? Well, it seems Mother Nature might be confused as our weather has been changing every few days. The trees have started to bud out yet we had a good coating of snow in the higher elevations last night. The local weatherman told me that this coming week will see spring like weather and that it should be here to stay. We’ll see about that. Either way the fishing has been excellent for those willing to roll the dice on the weather. A good friend of mine said it best when he said…. “if I waited for good weather to go fishing I’d never get to fish”.
We’ve been very busy this March and haven’t had a lot of time to update the fishing reports page. I apologize about that. I guess tying flies and preparing lunches every night has cut into my fishing report time. I did however take some time between fishing and trip prep to make a short video for a contest Bradley Smokers hosted. I’m happy to say that my work paid off as I won first place and a prize of $500. Click here to take a look at the video.
Enough talking about the weather and my overnight routine, let’s talk about the current fishing conditions. We have settled into that magical time of the year when the TVA and USCOE turn the water off. That’s right, it’s time for the power that be to begin filling the lakes and tailwater anglers everywhere are rejoicing. Wading anglers can finally access waters that are normally reserved for float fishermen. Float fishermen can finally see the bottom and getting their flies down no longer requires 2lbs of lead. Some of the high access areas will be busy as ever, but those willing to hike a little or utilize a boat can find open water and privacy.
The spring bugs have been a little sparse thus far. The bugs typically follow the natural flow of the seasons and I expect we’ll start seeing the bigger bugs soon. So far, insect hatches have been limited to tiny midges, black flies and the last of the winter stoneflies. A few random caddis have been spotted and I know the heart of the hatch can’t be too far away on the Holston. Hendrickson mayflies will soon get started on the lower Hiwassee along with Grannom caddis. The Clinch River Sulphurs normally show up around mid to late April and I think they should be right on time as we’ve seen a few early birds floating downstream untouched on recent trips.
We’ve been employing several methods to fool the fish over the past few weeks. Nymph setups have been our bread and butter with the Clinch and Holston Rivers requiring a mix of super small and somewhat large patterns. Midge patterns between #18 and #26 have been a staple on both rivers. Black, brown and red colors have been our best producers. We’ve also had success with larger nymphs as our anchor bugs. #14 and #16 Copper Johns have been one my top picks for this job. Just remember to use adjustable indicators as finding the right spot in the water column is just as important as your choice of pattern. Streamer fishing has also been productive for us when the nymph bite slows. Small streamers have worked best, so don’t worry about tossing the full sized chicken flies. Just pick out smaller Clousers and Muddlers and go to work. Dry fly action isn't far away.
We still have some great dates available for April. Weekends have filled but we have good availability during the work week. We love fishing during the week as the crowds are less and we often have the rivers and streams to ourselves. Give us a call and we'll get you on the water and the fish.See you on the water.
February 28th, 2014
Tomorrow is the first day of spring in my world. I know the almanac doesn’t agree with me but the fact that the almanac is always right doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Ask yourself when spring is…..go ahead. That’s right, we all said tomorrow. It’s because we all so desperately want spring to be here and for winter to fill our rearview mirror. So, in my world….tomorrow is spring day #1. I’ll be spending it behind the oars of the drifter, loving every minute of it. So long winter. Hello spring. Also, As of tomorrow you will need a new TWRA fishing license for the 2014 year. You can get them here Online License or you can get the smart phone app here Apple or Android
Fifty six, that’s the average high temperature in east Tennessee this time of year. I’d say that’s been just about right…an average. We’ve been seeing some days in the high sixties and then a day in the low forties. It won’t be long before we’re seeing more stable weather and pleasant conditions. I’ve heard we’re due for one more visit from the current hot word of 2014 “ polar vortex”. I’m hoping it’s short lived so me, the bugs and the trout can get busy loving spring. The fishing isn’t bad right now though.
Hiwassee River -Hiwassee Lake is a little over 4 foot above the desired winter pool level. This should mean great flows for drift boat fishing on the Hiwassee. Although, you should note that TVA will start filling the lake soon and this will likely result in abundant low water opportunities. Low flows from the powerhouse will move our boats further down river. The middle river, from Reliance to hwy411 is very scenic, and under fished in my opinion. The famous “Patty Melt” stretch runs from hwy 411 downtream to the Patty Bridge Access. Both of these stretches will offer great spring hatches in the form of Hendricksons, Caddis and Sulphurs.
Currently, we’re seeing good action on a couple different setups. We’re still seeing more quality fish while using the streamer rods. White, Black and Olive Buggers are producing as are Circus Peanuts and other Galloup patterns. The nymph sticks are getting tuned up as well. Our winter stoneflies (#16 - #18) are hatching and the fish are keying in on the nymphs. The adults are raising some fish but the action is much better on the nymphs. Prince nymphs and black hare’s ear nymphs are working best.
Holston River – Cherokee Lake is just slightly over winter pool level. TVA’s overall flows have lowered but the flow schedules have still been stingy with fishing windows. Great conditions are just around the corner though. TVA will begin filling Cherokee Lake anytime now. This usually begins in the middle of March and it takes two to three months to fill the lake. These months will see some of our best and consistent conditions of the year.
Spring time on the Holston is without a doubt the highlight of the year for the lesser known tailwater of Holston lineage. The river will be a caddis and midge factory and a fly fisherman can attack the trout with his favorite setups. Dries, droppers, nymphs and swimming nymphs will all produce fish….really good fish at that. Many of you have enjoyed spring days on the Holston with me in the past, for those who have not….you owe it to yourself to check out this river. The river doesn’t offer a lot of public access, but you can find some water near the dam and down river at Nances Ferry.
Clinch River –Norris Lake is 3.4 feet above winter pool level. I tell you what; it seems Norris has been above pool level all year. The few occasions when it’s been below have been very short lived. We’ve seen very few extended periods of low water. The weekends are offering some low water but it’s still in small windows. TVA’s schedule calls for them to fill Norris Lake starting in a few weeks. This should give us some good river flows until summer pool is achieved. Low flows and spring sulphurs sure sounds exciting.
High water conditions have prevailed so we’ve spent most of our time pulling streamers on sinking fly lines. Action has been spotty as it usually is when you’re working large streamers. The best action has come on EP Game Changers and Galloup’s Sex Dungeon. The fishing has been so so during the rare circumstances when we’ve had low water. The fish really haven’t adjusted to the low water and it will take more low water for this to change. You can produce fish on a variety of small midge patterns. Think #20 and smaller coupled with some 6 or 7X tippet.
I know the official start to spring is in a few weeks. But you can look around and see for yourself. The trees already have a few buds on them and there’s no doubt that those Bradford pear trees will soon explode with beautiful white flowers. The red buds have already started to pop and the nature train will follow. Spring fishing offers comfortable weather and very hungry fish that are coming out of a very cold winter. The fishing will be excellent and now’s the time to get your trip on the books. Give me a call to discuss a great spring trip.
See you on the water.
February 14th, 2014
Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you’ve had a great day and I hope your significant other had an even better day. Because we only have 14 days left until spring erupts all over east Tennessee and you’re going to need some good favor built up so you can sneak off to the river. The fishing is pretty solid now but we know it will be awesome as things start to warm up.
March 1st has always been my spring kickoff and it can't come soon enough this year. We've seen our share of mild weather but we're also seeing some of our northern buddy's share of real winter weather. We picked up 8 inches of snow overnight on Wednesday. But I'm sure spring will not let us down on March 1st.....I sure hope so anyway.
Hiwassee River – Hiwassee Lake is a few feet below the winter pool guideline. This could mean extended low water. TVA is showing a lowered flow for tomorrow and are predicting very low flows for this weekend. This will be the chance many wade fishermen have been waiting for since October. The delayed harvest season will end on March 1st and I’m rather sad to see it end. The river has been on fire this year and our fish are in such great shape. I sure hope our fish can weather storm of corn and stringers.
The bite is still very good and our options are starting to broaden again. Streamers are still going to produce more strikes from better fish. But nymphs and even dry flies are beginning to find their place on some of our setups. The shad kill was not very impressive this year but the fish saw enough of them to keep an eye out for them. Winter stoneflies have started to pop and the fish are taking notice. Black, downwing dry flies with small, #16 -#18 stonefly dropper has worked very well.
Holston River – Cherokee Lake has risen above TVA’s desired winter pool level. The flows are still showing some mixed schedules that will allow some windows, but I imagine the flows will average much higher than we like for another week or so.
The fishing has been very good every time we’ve had a chance to fish the Holston. The fish are in great shape and the even had the benefit of an epic shad kill from Cherokee Lake. This shad kill event even made the local news. These fish should be super charged this spring! Our bite has been best while using white streamers and nymphs. Colorful, heavy nymphs have been getting the job done and gold Copper Johns have shown the way as anchor bugs.
Clinch River – Norris Lake is just slightly above winter pool level. We’re currently seeing high flows during the week and mixed flows on the weekends. I expect these flows to last a few weeks longer. The river is going to be in great shape once March rolls around.
I’ve spent some time streamer fishing on high water and while this is rarely the best conditions for a hot bite, it does produce opportunities for some of the rivers better fish. We had a few breath taking follows and flashes and landed one slot sized brown as we fished ahead of the oncoming snow storm. Don’t be afraid of that 8wt and 6” inch long flies, because the big fish aren’t. Make sure you have some small thread body midges if you catch low water on the weekends. Sizes #20 - #24 in tan and red colors are the top producers.
Spring is just around the corner. We can wait to see you on the river.
January 24th 2014
Our winter roller coaster is rolling along. Today was a winter fisherman’s dream, sunny with highs in the fifties. Tomorrow on the other hand is forecasted to see another bitter cold front move in from Canada. Luckily, this cold front is supposed to give up to a short warming trend later this week. I don’t suppose our cold, warm, cold pattern is anything out of the normal. This is the south and our winters are usually mild for the most part. It is a little unusual to see such low temperatures but I guess that’s what you get when all the TV weathermen keep screaming “polar vortex”. I’m not going to worry much about the weather because is totally out of our control anyway. We can take what it gives us and like it…..or hate it, but it’s not going to change anything. We’re about to usher out January, and from that point on we’re only a month away from my unofficial start of spring!
February 1st, Next Saturday, I will be a guest fly tier at Little River Outfitters in Townsend TN. I’m not quite sure what the schedule is but I believe fly tying will be between 10 – 2. I will be tying a few of my most productive Isonychia patterns for the popular summer hatch on the Hiwassee. I’m sure all of you who have fished with me have heard me talking about LRO. Byron Begley and company have one of the best fly shops in the country and it’s built on great customer service, a can do attitude and a bunch of good people. I’ve always felt blessed to have a fly shop like LRO in my neck of the woods, but LRO even offers free shipping for those that don’t live close by. Little River Outfitters is located at 106 Town Square Drive, Townsend, Tennessee 37882. Check them out at www.littleriveroutfitters.com.
That’s enough winter storm advisories and PSA’s….Let’s get on to the fishing report! If you scroll down the right side of the screen you’ll notice a bunch of nice fish. It’s safe to say that the fishing has been very good. Especially if you can catch a warm day, but the cold days are fishing very well too….you just have to wear more layers. Here’s what’s happening on our local tailwaters.
Hiwassee River – The River is in great shape right now. Hiwassee Lake is a foot or so over the winter pool guideline so we’re seeing 24 – 7 two turbine flows. You guys know we love this flow. It’s not the best flow for wading, but it doesn’t make wading impossible. I expect these flows will continue for several more weeks, especially if we get a little rain. Now all this could change if we get a lot of rain. TVA would likely spill from Hiwassee Dam if we see a large rain event.
The Hiwassee is still the best venue in east Tennessee for fly fishermen to plan a trip. The flows are consistent, the fish are hungry and some quality fish are being caught. We’re doing the majority of our dirty work with streamers. Light, small streamers are working very well. Our annual shad kill has been pretty lackluster overall, but the fish have seen enough of them to seek them out. In fact, I think it might be in our favor as our flies don’t have a lot of direct competition with real shad. Little black winter stoneflies have started to show up, especially on sunnier afternoons. Look for a variety of rise forms and put a high floating dry fly in front of them. Drift and skate, drift and skate!
Holston River – Cherokee Lake is slightly below the winter pool guideline. However, extreme cold has forced TVA to generate a lot of extra power. So our flows have been somewhat erratic. Some days have excellent flows for fishing while the flows the very next day might not be worth the cost of Snickers bar! Tomorrow for example is has an excellent flow schedule. Best advice is to keep a watchful eye on the TVA website and be ready to go when the low water windows pop up.
The fishing has been solid on the Holston. We’re seeing a good amount of holdover fish that are fat and sassy. One word of advice though, they are also very wise. Small tippets, a great presentation and an expert touch are all essential in catching these fish. We’ve been fishing large nymphs on deep nymph set ups. Large rubber legged stoneflies have served well as point flies with slightly smaller prince’s or pheasant tails on the bottom. Use an indicator that’s easy to adjust and make sure your fishing in the right zone. If you’re not getting strikes, adjust your depth. Also, sunny days can bring out some dry flies. Pack your small BWO’s and midges as well as some #16 and #18 caddis patterns.
Clinch River – Norris Lake just fell below the 1000’ winter pool guideline. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear TVA intends to pull off the gas anytime soon. They are shutting down to one turbine during the early morning hours but are wide open from daylight to dark. Lower flows might not be too far away if the Clinch and Powell watersheds can avoid any rain over the next week or so. Any measureable rain will likely mean high flows from Norris Dam. I don’t have a whole lot more to report for the Clinch. It’s been flowing high most of the winter and the fish really haven’t been pressured. Hopefully the stripers returned to Melton Hill and the fish are fattening up for spring. Overall, we're just a little over a month away from March and March usually bring some lower, more fishable flows.
Spring dates are starting to book up. Take a look at your calendars and pick your dates now. It's going to be a great spring, we're going to be busy and we're looking forward to showing you a great time.
See you on the water.
January 13th, 2014
Welcome to 2014. I hope everyone had a great holiday season as 2013 went into the record books. We’re seeing a typical east Tennessee winter and that means you can see anything from blizzards to floods and heat waves to subzero. That’s right, I said subzero. Last week we had a low temperature of minus one…..now that was pretty cold. Then we had sixty degree days this past weekend. You just never know what kind of weather you’re going to see here in east Tennessee. One common theme we’re seeing is rain. We saw heavy rain Saturday morning and we’re getting more rain today. I sure hope this isn’t a sign of what 2014 is going to be like. Especially after the record rainfall we saw in 2013.
The fishing is pretty good on all our rivers. The problem you might have is finding favorable flows for fishing. Most of our regional lakes are very close to their respective winter pool levels. Some are slightly above winter pool while others are slightly below. It doesn’t matter either way though as any noticeable rain will bring high water from our dams. So cross your fingers that the rain let’s up and we see some dry weather this winter. In the meantime, here’s what you’ll want to know if you do find good flows on your local tailwater.
Hiwassee River –The Hiwassee watershed is at or above full pool level. The good news is the Hiwassee fishes well on most all flows and can be waded even at maximum flow. The one thing to keep your eye on is possible spilling from the dam. All bets are off if TVA spills from the dam. Our float trips went off ok during the most recent spilling event but you never know how the spill water will affect the fish. Currently, TVA is showing a normal two tubing flow for the next 72 hours. I wouldn’t expect to see much less than this for at least a few weeks. So it should be prime drift boating water for the rest of the month.
The winter Delayed Harvest (DH) is going strong, just like it has since it began in October. The shad kill has been a hot topic lately. Everyone wants to know how it’s going and if they should come fishing. Well, the shad kill has been rather slow so far. We’ve seen more shad coming down the by-pass than through the turbines. The good news is that the fish have seen enough shad to know to look for them, especially the bigger fish. So pack your streamer box and go get them. White streamers are getting the bulk of the action but black and olive patterns can be productive too. Sunny days can bring on some winter stoneflies but we’ve only seen a few thus far. So stick with your streamer stick unless you find a blizzard hatch.
Holston River – Cherokee Lake is actually still below winter pool levels despite the recent rains. So we just might get some consistent low flows here over the next few weeks. A good dry spell after today’s light rain could help with the future flow schedules. We like the water off when we fish the Holston and long periods of low water will get the trout fired up.
The Holston is fishing very well when you can catch the right flows. We’re running a mix of nymph and streamers and we’re getting into some dry fly action on sunny days. The most dependable setup is a deep nymph rig with tungsten nymphs. Black stonefly patterns have been hot as well as blackfly droppers. Use 4X tippets on 9’ foot leaders to construct your nymph rig.
Clinch River – TVA has been giving it to the Clinch tailwater for what seems like forever. We have had a few small windows on the weekends but even those have been scarce lately. Norris Lake is a little more than a foot above winter pool currently but will likely rise with the current rain system.
There is a bright side to the constant high water. I’ve found in the past that the largest browns and rainbows will become more aggressive and feed more often during long high water events. These are great conditions for stripping streamers in my opinion. It’s not always the best method for catching fish but it is a great method for getting shots at the big ones. Hardcore streamer fishing isn’t for everyone due to the hard work and slim dividends, but when it does pay off, it usually pays well.
Watch list – Two closed sections of the South Holston will re-open up at the end of the month. These sections were closed to protect the spawning brown trout and while I think these closures are a great thing for the fish…..I’m ready to get back out there.
The Toccoa in North Georgia is a fun winter fishing destination. The action is focused on nymphs and heavy streamers. The river is well known larger than average trout that live under people’s decks.
The Caney Fork River is a great winter destination when flows allow fishing. The river can get quite crowded in the summer, but those crowds are a long ways off during January and February.
Well see you on the water and hope that everyone has a very fish filled new year!
December 3rd, 2013
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I know my family and I had a wonderful time and we had some great food. In fact, I just finished the last of the leftover smoked turkey today. I had the pleasure of fishing with a longtime client and friend on Black Friday and Saturday. We had a great time fishing and sharing our thoughts on the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. We both expected them to roll Auburn.....and I imagine both of us was equally shocked with Auburns miracle. The second miracle Auburn has had in the last few weeks. I'd like to request those who are praying for the Auburn Tigers to add my family and I to their prayer list.
Anyway, December is here and as of today we have 18 more days of fall. The next few days are supposed to be fairly decent but the weathermen and women of the south are warning of a very large rain event coming our way for this coming weekend. Two to four inches of rain is predicted to fall on the southeast from late Thursday through Monday of next week. This much rain isn't good news for some of our tailwaters. However, one of our tailwaters is going to love it.
Hiwassee River - It's hard to imagine this year getting any better on the Hiwassee but it certainley appears that it's going to. We had mixed flows on the Hiwassee up until last week's rain, Since then the TVA has ramped the flows back to normal levels. I wouldn't expect this to change anytime soon as we await another 4 inches of rain later this week. This is great news for us on the Hiwassee. The river is flowing clear and cold and it looks like we're set for the rest of the month and the start of the new year.
The Hiwassee River, more specifically the Apalachia Tailwater is very unique. It's one of the only TVA tailwaters that offers good wade fishing even on high water. Of course us drift boat junkies need water to float, but wade fishermen are good to go with or without flows from the dam. I'll admit that the available real estate for wading anglers is dramtically less when the waters flowing, but there's still a lot of productive spots along the river. Don't let the great DH fishing get away from you just because the high water. Much of the southern bank from the powerhouse downstream to Colonels Island is wadable. More water is available to wading anglers further downstream near the rapid known as Fox's Cabin and the Dollar Shoal. The upper end of Cane Island has some wadable water and Big Bend has a lot of wadable spots.
Currently, we're catching a lot of fish and we're catching some really nice fish. We're utilizing nymphs and light streamers as our primary techniques. Olive, black and purple Wooly Buggers are all catching fish. I'm dropping nymphs off the back of the buggers and we're taking a good amount of fish on the droppers as well. A heavy weight stonefly nymph works great for your dropper. We're also still catching some dry fly fish. Look for small bwo's (#22 -#24) and a mix of caddis (#14 - #20) in the afternoons.
In the coming month we will begin seeing a shad kill. Last year's shad kill was incredible and it sure would be nice if it happened like that again. I'm not ruling it out since this has been one of the best years on the Hiwassee River is many years. The shad kill represents one of the best "occurences" of the year for catching large fish. I've often taught my anglers about the importance of special occurences that get the big fish active. Spawning season, large cicada hatches, large mayfly hatches and bait fish kills are all great occurences and they will all cause the large fish to take notice. The shad kill will give all of us something to look forward to over the holidays and well into the new year.
Clinch River - Norris Lake is now 2.5 feet below winter pool. It's hard to say how long that will last. The rain in the forecast is predicted to be heaviest to the north of Knoxville and into Kentucky. For the time being, the TVA is mixing it up and it's different every day. Most days will see some high, some medium and some low water levels. You just don't know when to expect what until they release the schedule each afternoon.
The fishing is best on falling water. So pay attention to the schedules and know where to be as the water is dropping. Streamers are producing fair numbers on higher flows, but the nymph bite is much better as the water levels fall. My best producers have been heavily weighted orange scuds and small pheasant tail midges. You can upsize your tippet a little when fishing the higher flows.....just be ready to drop back down to the small tippets once the water has fallen out.
Holston River - Cherokee Lake is barely below winter pool levels and I fully expect it to rise after this coming weekend's rain. Cherokee Dam has also been giving mixed flows. The flows for today and the predicted flows for tomorrow have been very good for us. I hope it holds out but I'm not holding my breath. We're keeping an eye on it because the fishing has been very good when we've had good flows.
Nymph fishing has been our go to technique. Tungsten Prince Nymphs (#14 - #16) have worked well as a point flies. We're using a variety of midge patterns as our dropper. Fish your nymphs on an adjustable indicator rig and adjust it as needed to keep your flies within 12 inches of the bottom. Fish through the deep slots and the fast, shallow riffles. Streamer fishing has also been fairly productive for those who prefer to fish with big fish food.
Cumberland River - What can we say about the Cumby. It's been one elusive destination for us this year. I fully expected to visit over the Thanksgiving weekend, but we were burned by last week's rain and opted for a trip to the Caney and a day on the Hiwassee. Now, Kentucky is predicted to catch the heaviest rains this coming weekend and I'm guessing that will put our northern friend on the back burner for much of the next few months.
I was fortunate to have some great guides teach me a few things when I was a rookie guide. Tic Smith once told me to never leave fish to find fish and I think it applies to this situation as good as any. The fishing in Tennessee is very good right now and there's no reason to leave Tennessee to find fish Kentucky. So, I'm going to get my Kentucky fix vicariously through my friends and collegues at Cumberland Drifters. Keep an eye on their website for updated conditions and if your interested in visiting Kentucky over the winter.
Caney Fork River - We've spent some time recently on the Caney Fork. The Corps of Engineers have been giving decent flows for late morning starts. The river is flowing fairly clear and at good levels once they shut the spickets off. I'm not sure what the coming rains will do to Center Hill Lake, so the good flow patterns may not last long. We'll keep our eyes on the flows and we fully expect to spend some time on the Caney this winter.
Our best fishing was with nymph rigs. Scuds and midges were our top producers. We had a lot of luck fishing the deep slots and on the gravel bars. We didn't see any fish trying to spawn on the gravel but we did see a few large browns that were pairing up. These fish were spooky and not overly interested in any of our offerings. My advice would be to give them some room if you find them on redd.
We have some short term availability throughout the month and don't forget about our gift certificates, they make great gifts for all the anglers in your life.
We'll see you on the river. Captain Rocky.
November 26th, 2013
Burrr....It's awfully cold and wet outside today. The entire southeast is under a winter storm warning today as a massive raincloud and cold artic air come together. It's been raining since yesterday evening and it's not supposed to let up until early tomorrow morning. The good news is that it's supposed to be out of here by Thanksgiving. I sure hope so as I'm set to embark on my normal Black Friday fishing trip with my friend Vance and his son Tyler. Of course, nasty weather has never stopped us before....but we sure would like to see some sunny skies.
All of our area lakes have reached winter pool levels. There's no telling how much this current rain event will raise the lakes but I am expecting a little heavier flows over the next few days. Overall, the flows have been workable for most everyone. Wading anglers have had good windows for wade fishing while the float fishermen have had some good water windows as well. We've even been spending some days doing a little floating and a little wading. My advice is to come prepared to do both.
Hiwassee River - The Hiwassee has been one of the best producers for us this fall. It's been very consistent and that has made fishing easy. The flows have been all over the place with high water in the mornings and low water in the afternoons. I'm expecting to see normal high water flows over the next few days as this large rain event moves through. Water temperatures are in the low 60's.
The bite has been very good. The fish have been reacting best to light streamers and nymphs. Fish them deep and with a varied retrieve. Strikes are quick and done so it helps to have a tight line while working your presentation. A good number of bugs are still hatching and in places you can find risers. The best dry fly action has been coming on tiny, and I mean tiny blue winged olives. Try size 26 or smaller. The good news is, you can get some action on #20 - #22 BWO's, just don't expect the majority of risers to eat the bigger pattern.
Clinch River - Norris Lake is several feet below winter pool level and the flows have been reduced. We're seeing a mix of high and low water, with higher flows in the morning and lower water after lunch. The lake may rise a bit with today's rain, but I still expect to see similar flows to what we've been seeing. The water temperature is in the low 60's.
The bite has been ok when you can get on the water. The best wading water will be found low on the river in the morning or high on the river in the afternoon. Look for midges and small black caddis when you catch the water low. Nymphs fished on the bottom will still produce the best results. We've been doing best with heavy scuds and pheasant tails, fished on 5x and 6x tippets, about three foot deep.
Holston River - Cherokee Lake just reached winter pool level. Flows are still fairly erratic. The most fishable flows are coming late in the afternoon. Of course, early morning low water can be found down low around Nance's Ferry. The water temperatures are in the middle to lower 60's.
The bite has been very good when the flows have cooperated with our schedules. Deep nymphing has been our silver bullet. Patterns have been less important than making sure you get your flies down. Fish the heavier runs and make sure your ticking bottom and you will find fish. I've been using tungsten nymphs in large sizes, then dropping smaller patterns off the back. Don't be afraid of using a little split shot.
Cumberland River - The Cumby has finally found lower flows that have allowed the bars to be out of the water. Wolf Creek Dam is still generating for several hour a day so check the flows before you go. The water has looked good and some nice fish are starting to show up.
I will be spending Black Friday on the Cumberland as I have for many years now. On a turkey filled belly, after a few hours of sleep, my friends will leave Birmingham Alabama, driving through the night to meet me bright and early. I've often called Vance the ironman of fishing and he proves it to me every year when he pulls an all nighter and and all day fishing trip. I'm hoping we have some nice pictures to show you next week.
I'd like to take a moment here at the end of the fishing report to give thanks. Thanks to all the brave men and women who have sacraficed so much so we can live in freedom and do what we want to do. Even if it's something as silly as being a fly fishing guide. I'd like to say thank you to all of my loyal clients. Not only for keeping me employed year after year, but for your friendship and the many fun hours we've shared in the boat. And let's not forget a big thank you to the man upstairs for the ultimate gift of all, a savior and hope. I raise my glass as I say Thank You. I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving. Please be safe if your traveling because as mentioned, the weather today and tomorrow is going to be rough.
See you on the river.
November 9th, 2013
We're just a little over a week into November and we're starting to see the changes that tell you fall is rolling on and winter's on its way. Most of our beautiful fall colors have come and gone. The weather is changing as we're seeing cool to cold mornings with warmer afternoons. Now's the time to utilize layers....be prepared for cold or warm and you'll be fine. The nation also fell back to standard time last weekend. Bummer in my opinion but what can you do?
Getting on the water early is the best way to beat standard time and it's 6:00 pm sunset. We've been the first boats on the water most every morning. In fact, we've been the only commercial boats on the wateron many days. A few private boats are out and about but overall the pressure on most of our tailwaters has been very light. Chilly mornings, hunting season and football will all help keep the pressure light.
Area lakes are quickly approaching TVA's desired winter pool levels. This should mean lower flows on some of our favorite tailwaters in the coming weeks. Any measurable rain will spike water levels and can raise lake levels. I will detail different water levels at each tailwater in the report.
Hiwassee River - Water conditions on the Hiwassee have been very good. The water temperature has fallen into the low 60's and will continue to chill with every cold night we have. Hiwassee Lake is now slightly below winter pool levels. I'd expect to see the water off more in the near future. All the wade fishermen can rejoice as lower water should become a regular occurence barring any large rain events.
The fishing has been stellar and it seems to get better every week. We've employed several tactics as we've searched for the big rainbows of the DH. A well placed and well drifted dry fly can get the big rainbows to rise. The best approach for the larger fish is to use large streamers. We've been fishing streamers on sinking lines and having good results. Take a minute to scroll down our recent pictures on the right and you can see just how well we've been doing.
Lower water will open up the river to everyone, and not just the guides and private boat owners. So expect some competition on the weekends and maybe even during the week. Look for deeper runs and tailouts and as always....give them the dangle swing at the end of every drift. The Hiwassee will remain our top pick as long as this great fishing keeps up. I'm expecting this DH year to continue rocking.
Clinch River - Norris Lake is barely above the 1000' foot winter pool elevation. The past few weeks have seen a lot of water being dishcharged but maybe they will back off a little now that they've reached winter pool. Expect the lowest water on the weekends, and a mix of low and high water during the weekdays. Soon enough the water will be off for long periods.
Fishing has remained a bit of a mixed bag. Some days are good and some days are tough. I think the bite will improve greatly as TVA starts giving us low water on a consistent basis. My best results have come above Massengill Bridge using scud patterns. Small midge pupae patterns will yeild a few fish but our larger trout have been on the scuds.
Holston River - Cherokee Lake is sitting about 4.5' above the desired winter pool level. We've been seeing some low water windows during very random periods. The water temperature is dropping and should be at a fair level for the trout in the coming weeks.We just need some fishable flows to come our way.
The best fishing has been on deep nymph rigs. Use tungsten beadhead flies to get down quick. Patterns like princes, pheasant tails and zug bugs will work fine. Make sure to use your best catch and release techniques as these fish will be stressed and will need to be revived properly and handled with extreme care. Use the heaviest tippet possible to enable a quick catch and quick release.
Cumberland River - Lake Cumberland is still about ten feet over winter pool level. The Corps of Engineers is sluicing and generating to work the lake levels down. The good news is these flows are fishable. The bars are still covered for the most part so fishing from the boat is still the best method to approach the river.
My northern connection is still rock-n-rolling on the Cumby. But with the Hiwassee fishing so well I've really just not had a good window to journey north. I keep planning on going but the Hiwassee is so much closer to most of you that it's been a no brainer for us to stay close to home. Check out what Brandon and the crew have being doing at Cumberland Drifters. I'm hoping to get up there soon...to hear and see the sandhill cranes migrating overhead if nothing else.
Take a few minutes to scroll down and look at some of the recent pictures. The fishing really has been impressive and all of these folks would agree. I'll see you on the river.
October 27th, 2013
I was amazed four weeks ago to realize October was already apon us. Now, I'm simply blown away that October is almost in the rearview mirror as well. It's been an incredible month. The fishing, the weather, the colors....all of it has been simply amazing. These are the reasons I love fall above all other seasons. The fact that October is also one of the busiest months for a fishing guide doesn't hurt my opinion of fall either.
Fall like weather has finally graced us with it's presence. We had our first real frost a couple of days ago, but our afternoon highs have still rebounded into the 60's. This coming week is forecasted to have highs in the 70's, so we may have a few more weeks of pleasant weather before the outdoors are left to only the hardy anglers and hunters.
Hiwassee River - We've had a great year on the Wass' and it looks like the action is only getting better. Flows are still favoring boats throughout the week but wading anglers can catch a few hours of low water during the early morning hours of the weekend. Water temperatures are starting to fall and that's great news for all of our holdover fish....and the newly stocked DH fish as well.
The bite is still wide open. You can fish anything you like as long as you fish it well. Nymphs fished deep under strike indicators have been producing well. Prince nymphs, pheasant tail nymphs and red copper johns have been top picks. Dry flies are still producing good results on sunny days. The best action for dries is coming in the afternoon with elk hair caddis and cdc caddis emergers. Some of the best fish are coming to small streamers. Olive, black and white woolly buggers can be very effective if your using a sinking line.
The DH should pick up speed over the next few weeks. We're looking forward to a strong bite in November and hopefully a shad kill in December.
Clinch River - Norris Lake is sitting just over 1004'. I'm surprised we've not seen lower flows during the week....but TVA rarely heads my management suggestions. Look for low water on the weekends.
The bite on the Clinch has been sporadic when we've had a chance to get out. We're still touching a few nice fish, but the bite has been sluggish. The high water schedules will sometimes prevent the fish from getting into their feeding routine. My best producing flies have been #22 brassies and #24 wd40's.
I'm hoping that the TVA will let up as they get closer to the 1000' mark. November will see a rewed vigor in the bite as the fish begin to fatten up for winter.
Holston River - The water temperatures are starting to fall a little below Cherokee Dam. The flows are still high and unpredictable but you should keep an eye on the TVA website.....sometimes they will gift us a day with lower flows. The upper tailwater is currently below 70 degrees. This isn't great by no any means, but it is a good start. We should see better water temperatures in the next few weeks.
I've found a good population of fish in the upper river. They are spread out well and have a few nice holdovers mixed in. Fishing the fast water with small nymphs has been the most productive method. I'm still directing my trips to other tailwaters at the moment but expect to start working the Holston again once flows let up.
Late fall and winter is a great time to fish the Holston River. I'm expecting a very busy November and December.
Cumberland River - The Cumberland is seeing fishable flows. The Corps is sluicing the dam so the water is up a little but still fishable.It's looking like the completetion of the dam and the improved lake levels are already showing improvements in the fishery.
My buddies at Cumberland Drifters have been working it over. I've seen pictures from Brandon Wade and Hagan Wonn of quality sized rainbow trout. I've been covered up with work on the local rivers so I've had to live a Kentucky fall through their lense.
I plan on speding some quality time there next month. November and Kentucky have always been kind to me and my clients.
South Holston River - The SoHo has been perfect for weekday float trips. I've spent several days on the SoHo over the past few weeks and it has been really good each day. Now don't get me wrong, we've not been boating 50 fish or more in a day like on the Hiwassee.....but we have been catching some of the most beautiful wild brown trout that you've ever seen. That river is simply amazing and those wild trout are a sight to see.
Several large sections of the river will close to all fishing on November 1st. This is to protect the spawning brown trout that supply the river with 100% of the brown trout in the river. I'll be putting the SoHo on the back burner until late winter....but wading anglers can still find really good wading in the areas that remain open to fishing. Small pheasant tails, midge pupa, and scuds were my best producers. See you on the river.
October 1st, 2013
Holy cow! I can't believe October is already here. It's amazing how quickly the year goes by, especially when you're constantly wondering if relief will every come as you get baked in the drifter on all those hot, steamy days of summer. Well it's true, October is here and the changes of fall are one of life's special gifts. I know fall has the frowned upon task of bringing in winter but I try to overlook that. I love the cooler weather, and so do the critters.
The critters are out and about. Getting into the fall routine of fattening up for the winter I suppose. We saw bears swimming across the Hiwassee River twice last week. I've only seen them swimming on three other occasions over 13 years of guiding. Well Skip Waybrandt saw them up close and personal on two straight days. Skip guides for us at Hiwassee Anglers and first spotted a momma bear and two cubs last Thursday at Devils Shoals. The cubs swam right beside his boat as they began squalling for momma. Skip promptly rowed away to avoid a confrontation. The very next day he had a different momma bear with four cubs swim in front of him above the Stairstep rapid. I was several hundred yards behind him but was able to clearly see them swimming the river. Simply amazing.
Hiwassee River - The Delayed Harvest is here! I spoke with the TWRA guys yesterday after the DH stocking. They said that they brought 4500 fish consisting of rainbows and brookies. That's right, I said brookies. They planned to stock 1000 larger rainbow trout from the Tellico hatchery today. I'm not sure if the government shutdown stopped today's delivery or not. If it goes on for too long it will stop the second load of DH fish scheduled to arrive in two weeks. Anyway, the DH is on and the river is catch and release until next spring. Look for fat and sassy fish this winter as we've had a good holdover this year and now we're getting some nice fish added.
The fishing on the Wass' has remained solid over the past few weeks. I've been focusing on caddis and terrestrials for much of the last 7 trips. Tarantulas, Madam X and stimulators have served me well as point flies. I've been using smaller caddis patterns as our droppers. The fish are keying on a dead drift twitch. It's easy to do, just cast and give a big mend. Let it drift and mend again to twitch it. Strikes will come during the drift, twitch and swing so be prepared. I expect the new DH fish will eat anything you put in front of them for a few weeks.
Clinch River - TVA is showing mostly higher flows for the next few days at Norris Dam. I wonder if this means that they've completed work on the weir dam. I imagine the weekends will still operate under the recreational flow schedules for another month or so. The water temps have spiked into the lower 60's over the past week so we may be seeing turnover.
The fishing has been very good at times and very challenging at others. We've noticed a large amount of striped bass that have moved well up into the tailwater. It's not uncommon to see a few large stripers here and there but I've seen more than I've ever seen before. Our best bite has come on small pheasant tails fished on long leaders with very fine tippet. Set the drag on your reel to protect the light tippet.
Holston River - The Holston is showing some fishable windows over the next few days. I wouldn't consider fishing the lower river for trout until we see a drop in the water temperatures. The trout are there but catching them with the warm water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen in the water will likely kill the fish. Maybe not before you release it but in due time the stress from the fight will take it's toll. So concentrate on the upper river if you've got to fish on the Holston. It will likely be later this month before I make a return trip to the Holston and I sure hope all those nice fish are still there.
Cumberland River - It's about to be Cumby time again. The river is absolutely full of fish. Water flows are up and down so we're waiting on things to stable out a little before we pull the trigger. My buddy's at Cumberland Drifters have been seeing real high numbers of fish and even a few nice fish. I've got my eyes on the end of October and our classic Novembers Cumberland dates.
We'll see you on the river. Captain Rocky
September 21th, 2013
Good morning from sunny and gorgeous east Tennessee morning. An east Tennessee fall morning that is. Today is the first day of fall and it's the start of my favorite time of year. I absolutely love cool fall mornings that give way to gorgeous sunny afternoons. That's exactly the kind of day that we're seeing today. The entire southeast was hit by a heavy rain system yesterday. Rivers will rise some and some of them will stain, but most things should be back to normal in the next few days. I'm expecting a great fall and the cooler temperatures will help bring on the fall colors.
Fall fishing is always a great experience. It's a little different on every river, but our southern trout also love the seasonal change. Most of our rivers are still in great shape. All the rain in the spring and early summer gave way to some dryer weather during September. This allowed TVA to get a better grip on the lake levels and most of our tailwaters are giving fishable flows daily.
October is one of our busiest months of the year. Fall colors, delayed harvest, dry flies and pre-spawn brown trout have always been a top draw. Our calendar is filling quickly for the October and November season. Give us a call if you'd like to get in on the action.
Hiwassee River - Water releases are very dependable right now. We're seeing a full two turbine flow (good levels) 24 hours a day during the work week. The weekends will see lower flows during the early morning hours, then TVA wull open up the gates around 10am. The water temperatures are still holding in a suitable range for the trout, but we're happy to see cooler weather to help bring water temperatures down. The water clarity is very good and will usually always be clear on the south side of the river.The delayed harvest will kick off in a little more than a week. We'll also start seeing the large October Caddis soon.
I'm still working dry flies almost exclusively. The nymph and small streamer bite is good as well but my clients and I have preferred working dry flies. As long as it's working well anyway. We're bringing fish up on several different patterns including Elk Hair Caddis (#16-#20), Parachute Blue Winged Olives (#22) and some Isonychias (#12). Good drifts and emerger swings will get you hooked up.
Clinch River - TVA's work on the weir dam has given us plenty of low water to fish. I imagine the river might be murky for a day or so after the big rain yesterday, but the upper river should be fine. Norris Lake is within flood guide but some high water will be coming to keep the lake levels right. For the foreseeable future I'd expect to continue seeing low water windows during most of the day light hours.
The bite has been hit or miss for the past few days. Putting a high premium on concentration. It never fails, The fish will hammer your fly the second you glance away fron the indicator. The best bite is coming on small scud and sow bug patterns, and midge pupae. We're also seeing and incredible run of stripers in the tailwater. If you hook into a trout, you want to get them in quickly as possible because hooking into a trout is a quick way to momentarily hook into a striper.....if you know what I mean.
Holston River - The flows out of Cherokee Dam have not been the best for us fly fishermen. However, low water windows were not that uncommon a few weeks ago and I'd expect to start seeing more low water windows over the next few weeks. Water temperatures are still a little warm but the cooler nights were starting to see should help cool the tailwater down.
The best fishing has come on deep nymph rigs, fished on the bottom of the fast runs and riffles. The patterns we've fished hasn't been as important as getting the flies down. So make sure you use heavy flies, preferably tungsten. And don't be afraid to add some split shot or twiston lead.
Cumberland River - I recently visited the Cumby with a friend. The water conditions are looking ok, but the flows could be a little better. The USCOE are sluicing most of the day and are generating later in the afternoons. Ideally, we'd like to see lower flows and I'd expect to see better flows in the coming month.
Our best results came from nymphing deep water. Using large stonefly nymphs as our anchor bugs and fishing smaller nymphs drop off of it. So far, I didn't notice any fish moving into the bars (which have been underwater). We'll keep our eyes on it and keep you up to date. Fall on the Cumberland can be special.
We'll see you on the river. Captain Rocky
September 8th, 2013
Ok folks. Tennessee is undefeated at 2-0. This will likely be the only time in the near future that I can use the term "undefeated". We're about to start a tough run of football that probably won't be pretty. luckily, we've got plenty of great fishing to hold us over. College football also helps keep pressure light on our streams too.
Overall it seams like our weather has stabilized. We're enjoying some pleasant weather and it's starting to feel like summer might be losing it's grip on this weird weather year. It's only going to get better over the next few weeks as summer officially ends.
Hiwassee River - What can I say about the Hiwassee? There's not much I can say that I've not already reported this year. This has been an incredible year for the Wass' and her inhabitants. We've seen a great holdover population from last winters Delayed Harvest and now we're less than a month from the start of this years Delayed Harvest. The water temps are still holding strong in the mid 60's.
Our fishing trips on the Wass' have been very productive. We're seeing high boat counts like we typically see in early Summer. The bite is productive for many techniques so I'm letting my clients pick how they want to fish. Buggers and princes are working great for the wet fly anglers. Dry fly fans can still get a lot of action on Isonychias, Caddis and Terrestrials. Don't forget the ever present blue winged olives.
Clinch River - TVA has resumed work on the weir dam. So, we can expect good daytime flows until the work is complete or we have the next monsoon. Look for low water flows during daylight hours Monday - Friday. The weekends are still slated for the recreational flow schedules. The river is in great shape.
My best results have yielded a good quality sized fish. Slot sized rainbows are showing up all over the river and they are full of spunk. Over slot fish are not uncommon, but landing one of them on super light tippet can be a true challenge. Now's the time to grease those reels and make sure your drag is operating at 100% because these fish will test you. The bite has been good, but you have to keep pace with the fish. Start with larger than normal nymphs and work smaller as the day progresses.
Holston River - The Holston River is still holding on. It's actually doing very well if you like smallmouth fishing. The trout are holding on though as summer's finale plays out. The water temps are borderline and trout really shouldn't be targeted in the lower regions of the river. The temperatures are a little better in the upper river. Please remember if you are trout fishing on the Holston.....don't touch the fish any more than necessary and don't remove them from the water. Use plenty of time in reviving the trout. We hope to be reporting improving water temps in the near future.
Cumberland River - It's looking like we might get to spend some time on the Cumberland River this fall. The flows are not optimal at the time being but I've been hearing some decent reports from my Kentucky colleagues. Many of you have experienced the Cumberland in the fall with me and know what a great experience it can be. The weather is typically great through most of October. We've started booking for October and November. Give me a call to discuss your fall trip to the Cumberland River.
We'll see you on the river!
Aug 28th, 2013
It's been a super busy wrap up on our Summer season. The drenching rains that have plagued us have turned into more typical pop up afternoon showers. If your watershed gets hit with one, you will likely see high water and possibly stained water. Most of the area has avoided many of these pop up storms.
This weekend will be the last hectic weekend on many of our area rivers. The kids have all returned to school by now and most family vacations have come and gone. The fishing this summer has been fantastic and it's not looking to change anytime soon.
Hiwassee River - The Hiwassee is still one of our top picks. I know this sounds odd for late summer but our high rainfall year has been a blessing for the Hiwassee River. Water temperatures remain in the low to mid 60's which is very low compared to seasonal averages. We are still experiencing random spilling from Apalachia Dam. So far the spill hasn't had an effect on the fishing as long as your not out there when the spill water first shows up, We're not expecting any problems over the next few weeks.
The current bite is leaning heavy on caddis. Size 16 brown caddis and size 20 gray caddis are both hatching and the fish like both of them. Small size #22 blue winged olives are still producing many strikes, but are especially effective on cloudy and wet days. The Isonychias are still hatching, but the activity is beginning to drop off. The fish are still eating our Iso patterns and we expect this to continue for at least another month. Don't be afraid to use some large terrestrials.
Clinch River - The Clinch has been elusive for me lately. Flows are all over the place and we're not really seeing any patterns. Other than the weekend recreational release schedule that is. The schedule changes day to day and some days have excellent schedules for low water drifting while other days will require the use of a streamer rod.
My best bite has come on larger than normal patterns. This has been a welcomed change from the normal all small fly menu. Copper Johns sized between 14 and 18 have been solid picks, as has a #16 hares ear. I've noticed a lot of #18 black caddis lately and the fish will eat a well presented cdc caddis. But the easiest bite is still under the surface.
Holston River - The Holston River is offering some good low water windows on the lower river. Trout fishing is not really recommended now as water temperatures this low in the river are spiking at 71 degrees. However, the smallmouth fishing has been well worth the time. The upper river water temperatures are holding a bit better with high spikes reaching 67 degrees.
We are crossing our fingers for more of the cool temperatures that we saw in August. We should be in store for a wonderful fall and winter if we can make it through September without having our water temperatures rise much more.
Cumberland River - Flows are starting to get back in check from Wolf Creek Dam. My buddy, Brandon Wade has been fishing as frequently as possible and has had some good reports recently. Supposedly, some hopper fishing is going on and if this is so, we might find ourselves up there soon. Check out Brandon's reports at. Cumberland Drifters
I will be teaching a beginner fly fishing school at the Hiwassee Angler Fly Shop this Sunday, September 1st. We still have two spots available if anyone is interested. The costs is $125.00 and includes 3-4 hours of classroom instruction consisting of outfitting, entomology,Knot tying, fly rod rigging, fly selection, presentation and how to read the water. We will also feature one to two hours of casting instruction. The finally of the class will be a one hour float on the Hiwassee River. Please give me a shout if your interested in attending the class.
See you on the water.
Aug 10th, 2013
Hello Angling friends. I bet you thought I'd forgotten about you. Well, I didn't forget.....I've just been covered up. Not only have I been on the water 9 days this August, but I've also gotten a new website up and running. Hiwassee Anglers has a brand new web site up. Take a look if you get a chance.....I may have featured one of your historic pictures on one of the pages.
On a somewhat related note. I've recently raised my rates for the Hiwassee River. This change will only be on the Hiwassee and will only effect two angler trips. I've left the single angler rates at $350 and raised the two angler rate to $395. This rate is fairly standard on the Hiwassee, but I just wanted all of you to know what's going on.
The weather has been normal for the past few weeks, at least it's seemed like normal. Scattered showers are showing up on most days but they are generally widely scattered. The past few days have seen a little better coverage of rain for parts of our region, in fact.....some parts of Nashville and Kentucky got over 8 inches in the past few days. I suppose the year of the flowing waters will continue on. The fishing has remained very good, despite all the water.
Hiwassee River - The Hiwassee has been our top dog all summer and nothing has changed. TVA is running a lot of water during the week and the fish absolutely love it. They are running their normal weekend rec schedule on Saturday and Sunday, and the fish hate it. Water temps are running around 65 to 66 degrees with the turbines off. It's much cooler when the turbines are rolling. I wish they'd do away with the weekend schedule, but I know a lot of wade fishermen that love it. I suppose it's hard to make everyone happy.
Overall, the fish are happy. We're seeing a lot of bugs on the water and we're seeing a lot of feeding fish. Your day will start with a brown #16 caddis, and maybe some #24 tricos. Mid day will add a small #20 black caddis. BWO's from #18 - #24 can pop anytime of the day. The famous Isonychias are coming off sporadically through the afternoon with a surge after 5pm.
My trips have focused on the dry fly fishing, minus a trip or two with some very good nymph fishermen. Larry R. banged a lot fish with a nymph, and I wouldn't hesitate to work one on your line if you like nymphing. Use tungsten beads and split shot with am adjustable indicator. Make sure your ticking bottom in the fast water and you'll find fish. As for the dry fly folks....make sure you have plenty of gink and dust and have fun!
Clinch River - The Clinch has been workable lately. It takes a little bit more effort on our part but if you don't mind dawn patrol you can get in a good day on the water. The weekends are still offering the recreational flow schedules, so you'll see low water till 10am, and then added water at 2pm. Weekdays will see the turbine coming on a little earlier, so an early start is important. If you go remember to take a light jacket.....Super charged cold water and fog will make it chilly, even in August.
The bites haven't been as plentiful on the Clinch as the Hiwassee. You have to work hard for each strike....a good clean cast is important, but getting a good drift below you is imperative. Use long leaders tapered to 6x. The best action in my boat has come on larger nymphs than normal. I've been getting good takes on #14 princes. Small midges have worked best early in the day, but the larger nymphs have been strong after 11am.
When you do hook up, you'll be happy. The fish are fat and sassy. Rainbows between 12" and 16" are common and will test your fine tippet control during each run. Expect hard runs and high jumps out of these healthy rainbows.
See you on the water!
July 19th, 2013
Good Friday evening to you. I'm happy to report that we've experienced some dry weather over the past week. Don't get me wrong, we still see scattered showers across the region daily. But the complete region coverage storms have spared us. This weekend could see the return of system wide black clouds. We're certainly hoping for the heavy rains to miss our watersheds.
The dry weather has been great for our guided float trips. It was also nice to get a dry day to mow the lawn.....it had gotten in bad shape with all the rain and busy days guiding. The fishing is still excellent. TVA is still dictating our river options. Good water flows will make any destination a good choice.
Hiwassee River - These are the days we all long for on the Wass'. Great insect hatches and a river full of fish. The water flows have been high for the most part but the fish are still eating well. TVA spilled 5000cfs for several days but we never noticed a difference in the bite. Action has been hot all day long. We're now receiving normal summertime water schedules......and the fish love it. I've been fishing and guiding on the Hiwassee for many years and this is one of the best years I can remember.
A lot of different bugs and techniques will work for you. So fish nymphs if you like, fish streamers if you like or even fish dries if you like. It will work if you fish it with confidence. We've been working our nymph rods early on. Fishing tungsten patterns four to five foot deep. #14 Zugbugs, Princes and Hare's Ears will work fine. Our dry fly rods are also getting a great workout, early and late. Caddis are busting mid morning into early afternoon. Our best pattern has been a brown #16cdc downwing caddis....but the standard EHC will work well too.
The afternoon hours are ISO time. Big isonychias (#10 - #12) are coming off fairly strong after 4:00pm. But we've been dry fly fishing with our isonychias from 2:00pm. My secrete SneakyNychias are hot, but the fish will take a good look at any well presented drake.
Clinch River - The powers that be have been letting the water roll on the Clinch for several weeks now. We've seen a few low water windows but the flows have been high for the most part. The flows have been tapering off a bit the past few days and tomorrow will see low water early to accommodate the Clinch River Chapters Big River Cleanup. The lake is back to acceptable levels so better flows should pick up in the next few days.
Who says high water isn't good water? The steady higher flows do work well for streamer fishing. But streamer fishing is never a sure thing. You've gotta go in knowing that you might not do very well, but you might find a trophy. It's not for everyone. That's why we're eagerly awaiting some uniform lower water schedules.Low water has fished well with small midge pupaes and pheasant tails. Just fish them on long leaders that are tapered down to 6x - 7x tippet.
On a slightly different note. I've recently accepted the position of Guide Service Manager at Hiwassee Anglers in Reliance TN. What does this mean to all my loyal clients? It means we have a full service fly shop at our fingertips, cabin rentals on the river and a team of knowledgeable anglers who are working to make your trip the best it can be. Other than that, nothing will change. We'll still be making great memories in my boat......we just have a new place to tell fishing tales!
See you on the river!
July 11th, 2013
There's not a better way for us to get pounded with rain than for me to say "I don't think it's going to hit us bad". Shortly after my last report, the bottom fell out of the sky and our region was soaked once again. It really didn't get started in the valley until mid day on Saturday the 6th. But we got many inches of rain after it got going. The immediate impact? Spilling and around the clock high water. Ft. Loudon Dam has been spilling 12 of their 14 spillways. Dams closer to our fisheries have also been running high water with some of them spilling over the gates.
I can hear the movie voice guy now "In a world that normally gets 56" inches of rain a year, these rivers now rage....and it's only July". Nothing will change with our tasks. We will continue to seek the best water and conditions available to us each day. I'm sure we'll continue to see some rain and scattered storms but just bear with us. If we can get you on the water, the fishing will be good. Here's the skinny on now and what to expect next week.
Hiwassee River - Last weekend saw TVA crank the Hiwassee up. I fished it on 7900cfs and it was a beast. We had bites and a few hookups but the heavy water had the fish anchored to the bottom. I noticed a small island that used to lead you into Devils Shoals is now gone. Washed away, leaving only memories of past days. Luckily, TVA is reducing flows over the next few days, down to much more manageable levels.
The fishing, when the flows are between 2400cfs and 4800 cfs has been great. The isonychias are stealing the show this year. We always look forward to their emergence, but this year has been special. We have trout all over the river due to the high water all year and the winter's delayed harvest regulations. So you'll see heads eating dries from the powerhouse to the train trestle. Large nymphs are getting the nymph fishermen into plenty of fish. Only concerns here are solely on the flows. If you find the flow schedule showing less than 5000cfs, you should be ok for floating with care.
Clinch River - We made it halfway down the river last Saturday before the pouring rains hit us. We'd had a good morning with some strong catches and a few big breakoffs. After that TVA began pouring 9000cfs 24 hours a day. It's still running high for now, but Saturday morning will see low flows till noon or so to accommodate a Project Healing Waters Event. So if you're looking for low water and are not helping with the event, Saturday might be your best shot until they get the lake back in shape.
On a different note, I had to cancel a couple of trips this week due to the high water. A friend offered to split oar time with me if I wanted to get out. That's a great offer and I knew just what I wanted to do and wasted no time in suggesting the Clinch and it's 9000cfs flows. These flows are hardly considered optimal but they do lend themselves to one of my passions......streamer fishing.`
I had just introduced my buddy to streamer fishing a few weeks back. I'm talking real streamer fishing with 7 - 8 weight rods, 250 - 350 grain sinking lines, and flies that look more like small birds than patterns. I told him that streamer fishing will rarely put a lot of fish in the boat, but if you do it right and work hard you just might find a trophy.
I've spent many hours pulling large streamers. Sometimes you never catch a fish. Sometimes you'll see some monsters chasing that turn away at the last minute. And then sometimes, you hit the jackpot! Yesterday, we both hit the jackpot! Pictures on the right! I know a lot of my faithful clients get tired of hearing me say "try the streamer, try the streamer, try the streamer"....but I also know one who is well on his way to being a streamer junkie. Congrats Breck!
Cumberland River - I missed my spring window up in Kentucky for the time being. Last week's rain hit this watershed hard. The USCOE opened Wolf Creek up and have been running 24,000cfs.......that's right, I said 24,000cfs. Needless to say, we're not fishing on those flows. We'll keep a close eye on the schedules and pay attention to our friends at Cumberland Drifters, hopefully, things will be back to normal soon.
Holston River - The Holston is also blown out right now. Daily averages are around 13,000cfs. We might see some relief here the Holston watershed can dodge some of the rains.
I hope you've managed to stay dry wherever you call home. See you on the water.
July 4th, 2013
Happy Birthday America! I hope everyone is having a safe and fun Independence Day. It's a little soggy here in east Tennessee this morning. Our entire region is under a flood watch for the next day or so. I know this shouldn't come as a shock to us, heavy precipitation has been our specialty this year So far it's not been as bad as expected in the Tennessee River Valley, but we still have another 36 hours to go before the rain is predicted to be clear of us. My fingers are crossed.
There is no doubt that summer is here. Families are on vacation, the weather is pleasant and the fishing is great. All you have to do is find water release schedules favorable for your destination. It's been a little spotty, but overall our choices have been plentiful. We may see some higher flows over the next few days depending on how much of this rain system hit our watersheds. Here's Rocky Top Anglers fishing picks for the Fourth of July weekend.
Hiwassee River - Dependable! That's the best one word description I can give for the Hiwassee River's summer fly fishing. The Wass' loves water and high flows are our friend. I'm not expecting any adverse conditions here over the weekend. Flows may be a little high but the fish will not mind. Float fishing is your best bet, but wade fishing is always an option on the Hiwassee River. Even with two turbine flows. Take your time and be careful, you'll find a whole lot of workable water.
Isonychia season is in full swing. Tie on a big drake pattern and fish it all day long. You'll get strikes all day. Of course, those wanting to fish nymphs will also find plenty of fish with a deep nymph rig. I spent a day on the water last week with a gentlemen looking to learn about streamers. He caught several and moved some very good fish. Basically, I'm telling you to fish whatever you want. Fish it hard and you'll get fish. Personally, if you're riding in my boat and it's up to me ......I'm going to tie a #8 Isonychia dun to your line as soon as we shove off. This is the best dry fly fishing of the year and I have a hard time passing on it.
Clinch River - We've been seeing fair flows on the Clinch during the week. A normal summer flow is what I'd call it. Low water up until 10am or so, then higher flows for the afternoon. I like these schedules because they let us fish the river early in the day with cool morning air. Weekend schedules have been a little more dependable with the recreational flow schedules TVA tries to stick to. As of now, our weekend flow hasn't been bumped up. Keep an eye on it though. If this rain system drifts east, higher water might sneak into the schedule.
The bite has shifted to midges and blackfly larvae, old standbys actually. Small midge pupae are a staple for the fish year round, but the spring sulphurs allow us to upsize a bit. Now that the sulphurs are petering out, we're downsizing to what we consider typical Clinch River flies. Two fly nymph rigs are producing very well. Try a weighted scud or sow bug with your midge pupae suspended 10 - 12" behind it.
Cumberland River - I've still not made it to Kentucky for any measureable amount of time. I've been following my friend and fellow guide Brandon Wade's facebook page and it sounds like they are doing well. Last week Brandon posted a picture of the new state record brook trout for Kentucky, caught by one of their clients. It looked like a 2 - 3lb brookie. They are also showing some nice rainbow trout pics. It's good to see the Cumberland rising back up after the last seven years of dam repairs. I'm expecting good terrestrial fishing later this summer.
Holston River - The Holston has seen good flows over the past week or so. The water is still cold, but we're not sure how much longer the lower river will hold on. Smallmouth bass are now moving in and are plentiful. The best trout fishing is coming on small nymphs with tungsten beads, fished under an indicator. The most active bugs are now midges and craneflies but some caddis are still present. The best option for dries is to fish a larger than normal caddis pattern. Use a larger dry to get their attention and you will get some rises.
I hope everyone has a great weekend and that all the firework shows don't get rained out. We'll see you out on the river.
June 21st, 2013
Today is the first day of summer, but it's been feeling and fishing like summer for much of the last month. Those pesky rain clouds are still working on us every few days. In fact, last week we saw heavy storms roll through and they caused more spilling at some of the tailwaters we fish. The high water didn't last long though as most of our rivers are back to normal summer like flows. All of our featured rivers are fishing very well right now. Just be flexible and fish the locations TVA gives you.
Hiwassee River - The great trout fishing in Reliance Tennessee is still going strong. We had some light spilling over the dam last week, but the river still fished well. We're now settling back into a normal summer flow and this should continue for the next several months. We shouldn't have to worry about low water situations at all this year. The water is cold and clear and is in great shape for the summer.
The clear water is awesome, as it allows you to see the fish coming up off the bottom to eat your dry. We're still fishing dries most all day long but lots if techniques will work right now. Nymphing and light streamers are working for those who want to fish subsurface, but most people would rather fish dry flies. I know I prefer to fish dries when I can. The bug action to pay attention to now starts with caddis (#16 - #18) from mid morning through the afternoon. Sulphurs (#16 - #18) are sporadic before noon and then pick up speed for the rest of the day. Isonychias (#10 - #12) are present in the afternoons after 5:00. This is the best Hiwassee season we've seen in many years.
Clinch River - We're still dealing with flow issues on the Clinch. Heavy rains have forced flows up, yet TVA is trying to repair the Weir Dam. So you just have to watch the flows on TVA's site. The flows on the weekends are fairly safe right now. Weekday flows will be great with low rainfall amounts but will get higher depending on localized storms.
The fishing has been good when we can get on the water. Sulphurs are still popping in the late afternoons. The dry fly fishing for the risers has been challenging as the fish are super spooky. Long, fine leaders are a must. The nymph fishing is off the chart. Small #16 - #20 bead heads are working so good that most of my clients have stuck with nymphing over dry fly fishing. Small midges and pheasant tails are getting the job done. Fluorocarbon in the 6x - 7x range will help increase strikes.
Cumberland River - I've been hearing some good things from my friend and colleague, Brandon Wade. The river is flowing clean and normal summer flows are finally showing up. When I say normal, I'm referring to pre dam repair. Low water mornings are typically followed by heavy flows in the afternoon. These are the type of releases that helped make the Cumby a 75 mile tailwater. We're looking forward to seeing the lower river recover in the next few years.
I've been busy tying all those big, foamy terrestrials we've grown to love for the Cumby in the summer. I know this is some of my favorite fishing of the year. In the meantime, the nymph fishing is very strong to hear Brandon tell it. I'm looking forward to next month for sure.
Holston River - The Holston has been the lost tailwater this year. I've had some really good days on the Holston but opportunities have been few and far between. Weekends are offering the occasional good flow schedule and if you watch the daily schedules you might be able to catch an early week weekday. Currently, the water is fairly clean and it's still cold for the time being. It sure would help if they could start turning it down some.
Dry flies will still bring some fish to hand, but the nymph rod is going to be your work horse. Small midges and flashy nymphs are working best for me right now. The smallmouth bite is also coming on very well, so don't be afraid to work the big stuff.
June 7th, 2013
My report this week is going to sound a lot like the earlier reports from the past few months. Rain, Rain go away, don't come back for at least two weeks. I know that's not how the old saying goes but it's sure how the tailwater anglers of east Tennessee are feeling. We had heavy rains on Wednesday that dumped 2" - 5" inches of rain across the valley. It looks like the bulk might have fallen in the lower valley as opposed to the upper watershed. Nevertheless, TVA has upped the flows on several of our rivers.
The good news comes from the great fishing. If you can get on any of our tailwaters, your going to find great action. Right now, some of the tailwaters are more dependable on flows than others. Just keep a close watch on the other rivers as the schedules are still flexing and a good water window could pop up at anytime.
Hiwassee River - June is here and that means bugs and rising fish on the Hiwassee. Sulphurs are still present, hatching sporadically during the middle of the day, then getting heavier after 5pm. We're seeing a lot of caddis #16 - #20, throughout the day, and the fish are a little more into them until later in the afternoon. Small #22 bwo's are happening when the clouds are thick.
Break out the Gink and dry dust. The dry fly fishing is awesome right now. Rig up with 9' -12' leaders tapered to 5x tippets. We've been working double dry fly setups with typical caddis patterns (#14 - #16) as our point fly and dropping an emerger or smaller dry 18" below it. Now that your rigged up, work that presentation. Make soft casts upstream of your target. Make good mends to allow a dead drift over your target. Skate and strip your flies at the end of each drift before re-casting. The rises are coming in all forms. Quick explosions, water clearing leaps and gentle slurps. It's very exciting to see a rainbow trout swim slowly up off the bottom to look your fly over before it inhales it. It's simply awesome.
The Hiwassee is going to be one of the safest and most dependable destinations for the next few months. We're going to have great water quality and water levels all summer. Not to mention we're starting to see a few Isonychias starting to pop.
Clinch River - We're seeing great flows here on most days. The weekends are still seeing the recreational flow schedules which are also easy to fish. Expect falling water during the weekdays as TVA is currently cutting the water off a 7am and leaving it off until evening. Keep an eye on rain showers as a localized storm in the Coal Creek area can muddy up the lower river for a day or so.
Sulphurs are still popping well from noon on and are peaking from 4-6pm. This hatch is easier to fish with a little water flowing. Fishing it on low water requires long leaders and very fine tippets. Oh yea, a flawless 40 - 50' foot cast doesn't hurt either. Nymphing anglers can nymph all day long with the usual summer fare. Pheasant tails (#16 - #20), midge pupae (#18 - #24) and sow bugs (#14 -#18) fished on 6x fluorocarbon will get the job done. Try to make soft casts and present downstream to your target.
Cumberland River - We've started booking trips for late June and July in Kentucky. Lake Cumberland is at the new post dam repair level of 705'. Flows are looking clean and the river bed is looking fresh and green. All the reports I've heard from Brandon Wade have been very positive and it sounds like it's going to be a great year in Kentucky. The nymph fishing is solid as always and they are also seeing some good caddis hatches. Soon the terrestrials will be hitting the water and that's what I'm looking forward to. I know a few of you are excited about it too.
Holston River - Cherokee is still pumping too much water for my taste. TVA is right on their flood guide so we're close to seeing some lower flows. As long as the upper watershed can avoid these heavy rain events. We're keeping the Holston on the current fishing radar because it has been so good when we've been out there. The water quality is still very good......just too much of it.
May 31st, 2013
I finally had to water my garden this week. Mother nature did a fine job of watering up until last Thursday. That's a whole week with little to no rain and I'm beyond happy about having to water my own garden. Area lakes are leveling out on or near the flood guide and we're starting to see normal flows at most locations. We're very happy with normal flow levels and consistency.
Clinch River - TVA's Weir Dam repair project is underway and I'd imagine the work goes better with the water off. I've not personally checked out the work zone around the Weir Dam but I've heard most the access and parking are behind work zone signs and barriers. Currently, TVA is running about the same amount of water through the dam as is running into Norris Lake. Releasing an average of 2200 cfs each day. It appears that most of the flow takes place when workers are not present with one turbine running overnight. Some days are sticking more to the normal recreational flow schedules. Either way is fine, we can float and fish on all of it.
Our guided trips on the Clinch have seen some great fish and a few lost opportunities. Bright sunlight, which I will not complain about, has forced us to 7x tippet. We can get by on 5X and 6X during the morning hours, but once the sun gets on the water we have to size down. It probably wouldn't hurt to have some 8X on hand. Getting strikes requires stealthy casts, great drifts and long tippets. Be prepared and keep your drag set to protect your fine tippets. These fish are fat and sassy.
The fish are eating small pheasant tails and sow bugs fairly well from daybreak through lunch. The midge bite has been slow through all my favorite midge patterns. The larger hooks have been good for more hookups. The sulphurs are in full swing right now. They begin sporadic emergence around noon and the hatch slowly picks up until 3:00 or so. Once the hatch starts you have to pay attention to the rises to make sure your fishing the right patterns. Use light nymphs and wet flies for subsurface rise forms and dry duns and emergers for surface rises.
Hiwassee River - It's everybody's favorite time of year on the Wass'. Summer is here and with it comes great flows, lot's of bugs, and dry fly bliss. The flows are perfect with plenty of water for guided driftboat trips on the Hiwassee River every day of the week. The weekends will see the best opportunity for wade fishermen. Weekend schedules are sticking to the normal recreational release patterns and this means low water in the morning and high water after 10:00am. The rivers cold, clean and loaded with fish.
The fishing has been great for all our Hiwassee fans. Now we've hit that time of year when we can do dry flies from the put in to the take out. The mornings can be attacked with elk hair caddis and a pupa emerger. Fish them dry, on a skate, and on the swing. Mid day brings on the sulphurs and you can now switch to your favorite sulphur duns and emergers. If the action gets slow for a few minutes just add an unweighted pheasant tail as your dropper and the bite will pick back up. I've seen a few stray isonychias and we know the full blown Iso's are only a few weeks away.
Holston River - Cherokee Lake is still a foot or so above flood guide. So, we're seeing high water and not so fishable flows. TVA's predicted outflow for tomorrow looks like it might have some low water windows, but the following day looks to be a blowout. The fish are doing fine, but we're not getting many chances to go after them. We should see some better flows if our little dry period can hang on for another week.
Cumberland River - Yep, that's right.....a blurb about the Cumby. I've not been on the Cumby this spring, but my buddy and fellow guide Brandon Wade has. His latest fishing report sounds promising for sure. Wolf Creek Dam's repair project has been completed and the USCOE set a new lake level of 705'. That's where the lake is setting at right now. We're certainly hoping for low rainfall amounts in this watershed. We could be set up for a fine summer of tossing terrestrials to the bank. We'll keep you posted.
We have several prime weekend dates left open for June. Our weekdays are a little more limited but give us a call anyway, we might be able to get you on. Hope everyone has a great start to June.
May 23rd, 2013
I want to start off this weeks report by saying thanks to everyone who emailed and called after my roller coaster ride a few weeks back. I can't express how much I appreciate everyones support. Well, it looks like we've snuck around and made it to the Memorial Day kickoff to Summer. I know Summer is still a few weeks away, but thats not going to stop the masses from shifting into summer gear. Looks for extra people on your favorite waters over this long holiday weekend. Also, take a minute to salute those who have made this country what it is today.
It appears our wet year is going to wash us away. It sure feels like it these days. I know my waders and rain jacket haven't been completely dry in weeks. Heavy rain showers and steady soaking rains have been rolling over us sporadically since last Friday. Of course this has caused TVA to start up the generation shuffle on many of our favorite destinations. This is aggravating to us tailwater anglers to say the least. The good news is that a couple of our area rivers are giving great flows right now and all of the rivers are fishing very well when the flows are right. I've complained about the rainy year at every chance I've had......but last weekends horrible tornado in Oklahoma really put my perspective in it's place. Maybe a 20" surplus of rain isn't all that bad.
Clinch River - TVA gave us an excellent flow today. They are giving us a horrible flow tomorrow. Norris Lake is right on the flood guide level. Meaning every extra drop of rain will cause heavier flows. The predicted releases for the holiday weekend looks like they will follow somewhat of a recreational schedule. Look for low water early with generators coming on later in the day. Keep in mind that any heavy precipitation to the north and west of the Clinch will likely muddy coal creek.
Fly fishing on the Clinch is very good. Sulphurs are now hatching in fishable numbers from Millers Island down past Clinton. The best hatches with the best action is coming on the lower river. But that shouldn't stop you from using a sulphur dry anywhere on the river. Look for the sulphurs to start popping after lunch and getting heaviest after 4 or 5. Midges are a morning mainstay and will be your best bet if the waters super low. Sow bugs are working well as point flies to midge pupaes and pheasant tails. 6X fluorocarbon is a must.
Hiwassee River - TVA is running a lot of water on the Hiwassee right now, and as many of you already know.....that's the way we like it. Weekends might see some low water in the mornings but solid flows will be prevalent after lunch. This is the first weekend of the recreational flows on the Hiwassee, but with all the rain we've had....we should see plenty of water for months to come.
The Hiwassee is in the best shape I've seen in years. The river is full of fish from the top to the bottom. The Miracle Mile does show signs of heavy pressure, but all that goes away once you pass Towee and the point of no return for recreational boaters. Every year we see fewer and fewer boats that can navigate the gorge, and you'll never hear any of us Hiwassee guides complain. Sulphurs are doing their thing and the dry fly fishing at the Stairsteps has been great. We're also seeing a lot of small olives so don't forget to add a #20 bwo dropper to your #16 sulphur dun.
Holston River - Cherokee Dam is blowing water right now. The three day predicted doesn't look good for the start of the holiday weekend. All we can do is keep an eye on it and hope for dryer weather. We've seen some good flows recently so more of them might not be far off.
If you can find low water, nymphing will still be your bread and butter. Patterns are not as important as depth. Use an indicator that you can adjust quickly and be ready to add shot to your rig as needed. You can switch to dry flies after lunch for sure, earlier if it's sunny. Caddis and craneflies are the name of the game right now.
I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant Memorial Day Weekend!
May 15th, 2013
We're finally getting a break from the torrential rains. We did see some rains last weekend but they were light in comparison to the other systems that pushed through this spring. We're also seeing some pleasant weather. Spotty frost was around earlier this week, but gave way to pleasant day time highs. Maybe we've finally turned the corner and more consistent weather is here. I sure hope so.
Less rain has given many of our area tailwaters a chance to drain down a bit. In fact, most of our fisheries are now showing fishable flow levels. Maybe not optimal flow levels, but fishable for sure. The schedules can still be very erratic, so pay close attention to your surroundings and be prepared to get out. Keep your fingers crossed for less rain for the next few weeks.
South Holston River Flows have been great for drift boat float fishing. TVA has been pushing a little over 2100 cfs for much of the daytime hours. The flow has been clear and cold with a water temperature of 52 degrees.
Fishing has been good. The BWO's have been hatching strong in the mornings and after any rain showers. The best dry fly early on though is a spent sulphur fished in the eddy lines. Full blown sulphur hatches seem to kick off around 1:00 and will be sporadic to blizzard through the rest of the day. The fish see millions of naturals and imitations every day so you have to be ready to fish small tippets and you have to be on your game. The difference between a rise or a refusal can be a micron of drag.
Clinch River Tomorrow's schedule on the Clinch shows that TVA will stop sluicing and drop down to a common one turbine flow. This is a fishable flow for sure. A lot of people like the water to be off and falling, but a solid one turbine is a favorite among trophy hunters. A little more water makes some of the larger fish feel more secure in actively feeding.
Float fishing is still the best option for these flows. Your tactics can span your entire fly box so be open minded. Streamer fishing might not put fifty fish in the boat, but it could put a monster in the net. Deep nymphing will produce fish, especially in the shallows. Fish tungsten beads and don't be afraid to add a little split shot. Drop your flies 5 -7 feet below your indicator and dredge them deep. Don't forget the afternoon sulphurs. The fish are not as spooky with the extra water so fish 9 - 11' foot leaders tipped with 5x - 6x mono.
Holston River The best flows in the area are happening on the Holston, at least for now. Most days see a mix of pulsing in the mornings with higher afternoon or evening flows. The water clarity has been great and the river is still very cold.
The most productive setups are still nymph rigs. Setup with an adjustable indicator and adjust it as needed to keep your nymphs down in the zone. We're doing well with a variety of nymphs and midges. The caddis are very active as are pale crane flies. The best time to go dry is after lunch. Best patterns are cdc dries fished on a dead drift in the seams.
Hiwassee River Apalachia Dam has stopped spilling and we're now seeing fishing friendly flows. The best access is still going to be by boat, but the normal two turbine wading spots should be fishable for those who want to wade, The river is flowing clean and cold. We should be in great shape on the Hiwassee this summer. Lake Hiwassee has reached full summer pool levels already and that's a good thing with the summer recreational flow schedules set to begin Memorial Day weekend.
Anglers choice. This means to fish what you like and are confident in and you'll catch fish. Plenty of bugs are active, with caddis hatching in the morning, mating and egg laying in the afternoons. Sulphurs have started to pop and we've even seen a few early isonychias. Nymph, streamer and dry fly fishing are all working now. So enjoy your preferred method.
Guiding for a living is always full of adventures and the occasional pitfall. Last Saturday I happened to find one of those pitfalls after a great day of fishing. I was on my way back home after picking up lunch supplies for my Sunday charter. Pop up rain showers were rolling through the area, giving a mix of rain and sun. I was traveling on the interstate at a fairly slow rate of speed due to the recent rain. I noticed a rainbow that looked to touchdown right on the interstate ahead of me. That's when the rear end broke loose and it was apparent I was in full blown hydroplane.
The truck shot to the fast lane while I tried to steer into the skid. The tires grabbed quickly and sent my truck towards the right side of the road. All while my boat trailer whale tailed behind me. I of course over corrected and my whole rig shot off the interstate backwards. The trailer jack knifed to my passenger side and we plowed down the embankment backwards. The trailer slammed a concrete culvert right before everything went through a field fence. My boat was thrown through the fence while my truck and trailer came to rest tangled in the fence. Holy cow what a ride!
I got out of the truck to inspect the damage. My truck took a few dents and a blown right front tire. Amazingly, my Clackacraft had only a few scratches on it even though it launched through the fence. The trailer on the other hand was a different story. It had taken a wallop from a concrete culvert. It was obvious that it wasn't going anywhere, So I called Scott N and let him know that our Sunday trip was off. Canceling a trip is a very rare thing and I sure hated canceling this one. Sorry Scott.
The good news is I happen to know some amazing people and everything has already been repaired. So after a few unexpected days of relocating and repairing, I'm back on the water. Any guide knows how crazy things happen from time to time. I've seen some wild stuff and have been a part of a few wild stories myself. You just never know.
Special thanks goes out to all the people who went out of their way to get us back on the water. Dave T. gave up his last day of turkey hunting. Sean P. loaned us a trailer. Billy M and Hardin T picked up the pieces and rebuilt my trailer. Some people might ask wy did this happen to me? Instead...I'm asking why have I been so blessed by God to have such special friends and family. All I can do is thank God for each and every one of you.
May 9th, 2013
Help! Help that man floating by on his coffee table! Grab those sandbags and put on a life vest! Well....it's not quiet that bad but it certainly feels like it here in the southeast. Weekly rain showers have been relentless. Most of our tailwaters are rolling with water, and finding a good flow to fish has been a challenge. This year has been one of the wettest I can remember, and it's looking like the trend will continue for at least another week.
April 23rd 2013.
We've been burning up the rivers and the roads lately but finally found a day off to update the fishing report. Late April has seen a mix of weather conditions over the past week. Everything from rain and colder temperatures to Sun and high winds have graced our doorstep. Overall, I'm not going to complain too much. It's still better than the snow and cold we were getting last month. Another rain system will be moving across the area today and it's likely to drop an inch or so of rain with some areas receiving more. I always heard that April showers bring May flowers. Well, if that's the case I imagine we'll be covered up in flowers next month.
The spring fishing has been solid, despite the weather. We've had to hop around to avoid murky waters, and have been caught by some muddy water, but all in all the conditions have been great. We're still focusing our time on the Knoxville area rivers, but are hitting the Hiwassee at least once or twice each week. Our spring hatches are finally kicking in so we're throwing the whole bag at the fish now.....dries, nymphs, wets, and streamers. All will work at the right time and place.
Holston River - Current water flows are as perfect as we can get. Low water is prevalent in the mornings through mid day. TVA is then releasing some water in the afternoons. This can end your fishing if your close to the dam so start early and you'll have plenty of time for a full eight hours on the water. The water has remained relatively clean during the rain events and should handle today's rain just fine. It's very cold and we're hoping it stays that way for several more months.
The spring caddis are starting to erupt and the fish are taking notice. Standard caddis patterns are working, but don't be afraid to go outside the box. Buggy, fuzzy patterns are covering this hatch on my boat. We're fishing through the pupae, larval, emerger and adult lifestyle of these assorted caddis. Dry and soft hackle patterns are working very well during the emergence on sunny afternoons, while a nymph/indicator rig can cover you most of the day if you like. The river is full of fat, healthy fish and they are eating well.
Clinch River - TVA is currently involved in a project to repair the weir dam. I would imagine they will want low water during the repair. They could also employ a coffer dam to divert water to the opposite side of the island while each side of the weir is repaired. This should mean consistent low water for the anglers. I'm hoping the project has no negative impacts on the fish in the short term.....it will have a great impact long term and will be very good for the fish. Otherwise, the river has looked good except for a few days after rain. Expect murky to muddy water downstream of Coal Creek after rain events. It typically takes 1 - 2 days to clear up depending on the amount of rainfall.
Rocky Top Anglers is in a normal spring time schedule on the Clinch River. Midges and blackflies are abundant and are good options for most anglers. Inspection of the rocks on the streambed will also show a large abundance of sow bugs and larger sulphur nymphs. The sulphurs are starting to emerge in small numbers. Late afternoon is the best time to find them hatching in fishable numbers. Fishing low water will require longer, finer leaders and tippets. Don't be afraid to use 5x fluorocarbon, but don't wait too long to drop tippet sizes if the strikes are not coming. I've also found that small white indicators are working better than more visible colors.
Hiwassee River - TVA hasn't changed much here. They are still giving us a mixed bag of flow schedules. One day will be ultra low water while the very next will see full two turbines for many hours. We're keeping a close eye on their schedules and are not worried about it too much. The Hiwassee offers four different float trips and all of them work on different flow schedules. So, our boat will float no matter what TVA does with the flows. The river is running clean and cold for the most part. It will see some stain in places after large rain events in the upper watershed, but this is even avoidable to some degree by utilizing the entire 17 mile tailwater.
The Hiwassee has been a hot destination this year. News about the success of the DH and great spring fishing has spread. Last week at one point I counted 8 drifters in the water with me and all within sight. Needless to say, the Miracle Mile (Powerhouse to Towee Creek) has been hammered. These fish will require a more stealthy presentation and will not be fooled by the typical "Hiwassee Swing". Make good casts, make a good mend, get a good bite. Use 5x - 6x mono for dries and the same sizes in fluorocarbon for your nymphs and wet flies.
Bugs are hatching and plentiful all over the Hiwassee River. Our guided fly fishing trips on the Hiwassee have seen blankets of bugs for the last week. The lower river (411 - Patty) is absolutely covered up with grannom caddis. Crawling all over you type of a hatch. The middle river is still seeing some stoneflies and hendricksons to some degree....but look for the caddis to be there soon. The upper river is full of caddis, a few early sulphurs and lots of baetis.
In other news. It was brought to my attention recently that someone had bought and registered rockytopanglers dot net and dot info domain names. Actually, I was at the Hiwassee Angler Fly Shop in Reliance and Dean Tullock showed me that hiwasseeangler dot net domain had not only been registered.....it also redirected to another local guides website. The next day I got a call to inform me of the similar status of rockytopanglers dot net and dot info. The guys at Hiwassee Angler were reasonably upset but I pretty much laughed it off.
A little more research showed this same guide had also registered dot net and dot info addresses matching several other area guide services and fly shops, including the one he currently works for. Wow, how's that for an entrepreneur? I ask why would you stop there? Why not register Unicoioutfitters.net, fishawk.info, simms.web, or even orvis. org?
I can think of only two reasons someone would do something along these lines. 1. They have a redirect to their own personal website and hope to gain business by clients who mistype the web address or by brand marketing. 2. They hope to sell the domains to the business who already own a similar name. Now, I don't know which option our entrepreneur was working but it is unanimously regarded as an underhanded, sleaze ball kind of thing to do. Fly fishing has always been consider a sport of ladies and gentleman but I suppose the times have changed and now allow jackasses.
The thought of buying the domain names from him has never crossed my mind, as it's all I can do to manage rockytopanglers.com and keep it updated and worth reading. I'm also pretty sure most of my clients know how to navigate to my website and I seem to get enough from google to keep me busy. Instead, I hope this guy does well with rockytopanglers dot net and dot info. Maybe one day I'll get some hits from people who misspell his address. That would rock! lol. Like I said earlier, I really don't mind and I find it funny that this guy would do something like that. I'm guessing whoever owns the domain name imajackass.com should lookout.
April 17th, 2013
Quick report. The weather is still a little bit of a roller coaster but it's much more of a kiddie ride instead of the Tennessee Twister. We had some mild storms roll through east Tennessee today but they have pushed out for the time being. Another cold front moving this way for the weekend. Overall, temperatures are comfortable if you approach each day with two seasons in mind....cool mornings, then warm afternoons.
The springtime whirlwind is underway. All of our featured rivers are fishing very well and we're splitting time between three of them.... The Clinch, The Holston, and the Hiwassee. All offer completely different experiences and each employ much different tactics. Good fish are turning up on each river. It's spring and that says enough.
In the next week the Holston caddis should be happening. Currently, the Hiwassee is seeing some early caddis, as well as a lot of bwo's. Still nothing solid on the Clinch sulphurs, just a sporadic adult from time to time......but the midges, scuds and blackflies are plentiful.
Best bets for success. Clinch, fish small midge patterns (#20 - #24) on 6x and 7x fluorocarbon. Be stealthy in the slick water and you'll find fish. The Holston, fish larger nymphs (#14 - #16) with smaller droppers....about 4 - 5' feet under an easily adjustable indicator. Hiwassee, fish brown to mottled elk hair caddis patterns to the risers. Drop a small bwo dry off the back and use the larger caddis as sight lock. any rise within droppers link of the caddis should result in a quick hookset by the angler.
April 10th, 2013
Today was day six of six gorgeous days in a row. We've had to endure some stiff winds but it's been well worth it. The weatherman is calling for a strong line of storms to move through tomorrow so our short run of fine days is about to end. The good news is in the 5 day outlook, after tomorrow of course. We're expecting sunny skies, highs in the upper 60's, light jacket mornings and more spring like weather for the near future. I'm officially calling it. Spring has finally shown up for good.
It's amazing how all of nature is interwoven to operate together. All of the spring blooms have been later this year, and so have the spring hatches. My turkey obsessed buddy even said the turkeys have been slow to come off the roost. The past week of stable, warm and pleasant weather seems to have awakened Mother Nature. The trees lining the rivers are starting to bloom and will soon offer the only shade to be found. Welcome to spring and the most active fishing of the year.
The river flows have become our friends once again, as we've reached the point on TVA's calendar when they must fill the lakes. This provides us with some of the most stable, predictable flow patterns of the year. Most all of our rivers have prime flow windows happening everyday. Of course, it's always subject to change with TVA so please pay attention. Area rivers are cold, clean and full of healty fish.
Clinch River - Current flow patterns are excellent. One turbine from midnight to 7am followed by zero flow from 7am - 6pm. This is almost perfect as you can fish a medium water level early in the day and then shift to a low water approach in the afternoon. The water temperatures are still below 50 degrees which is not out of the ordinary for the Clinch. The flows are clear now but we could see some staining this weekend if tomorrow's storms dump a large amount of rain into the Coal Creek watershed. If big rains come, clear water should still be abundant aboe the interstate.
I spent today on the Clinch with some of my favorite clients. These guys spend a lot of time in my boat during the season and we always have a great time. Even if the fishing is slow. Today however was not a slow day. The river is full of hard fighting rainbows and they kept us busy all day. The sulphurs are not hatching in any real numbers. You might see a sporadic dun but the hatch just hasn't started yet. May God bless the sulphurs when they do show up because those sharks are hot and hungry. Blanket midges and blackfly are hatching in the meantime. Best action is coming on nymphs (#16 -#18) and midge pupa(#18 -#24) patterns, fished on 5x and 6x tippets, about 3 foot deep under a light indicator.
The wind has been challenging at times to say the least. It blew straight up river all day today. In fact, we watched it blow some silly guides hat right off his head and thirty foot away in the river. That's when Dick took matters into his own hands. With a single cast he managed to hook the straw hat that was drifting downstream fast. Dick had made a great cast, so great in fact that his point fly was eaten simultaneously as he hooked the hat with the dropper. Now that's an impressive double. A 12" rainbow and my.....ahem.....some silly guide's straw hat. Thanks Dick.
Holston River - Current water flows on the Holston are excellent. We're seeing low water most all day with some higher flows well after we're off the water. The water clarity is great and the temperatures are just starting to hit the low 50's. I wouldn't expect any staining this weekend unless the Holston watershed get's completely hammered tomorrow.
The Holston bite has been exactly what we expected to see. Hot action on nymph rigs has been the daily norm. So far the Holston caddis have been like the rest of this years bugs.....behind schedule. I expect the current warmer weather will kick start the caddis in the next week or so, In the meantime, break out your beadheads and strike indicators and proceed to get plenty of bites from the fat and sassy fish on the Holston. The Holston River is a great choice for a guided fly fishing trip in east Tennessee between now and June.
Hiwassee River - TVA has changed things up on the Wass'. We're seeing very wader friendly flows on most days. The schedules are a little spotty though and might include some extended one turbine releases in the afternoon. One turbine is still wadable and even boatable to some degree. But the upper river wading is what a lot of recreational anglers have been waiting for. Flows are super clean and fairly cold, temping around 54 degrees.
I suppose the Hiwassee was blessed with wet weather this winter. We had high floating water all winter which isn't always the case. Now , we're running our floats on the more traditional springtime "Patty Melt". That's what we call the lower river float to the Patty Bridge takeout. It's actually a very scenic float, just in a much different way than the upper river. The lower river also boasts much fuller hatches than we see up river. Over the next few weeks we should start seeing grannom caddis in huge numbers. The Patty Melt is a fine springtime float and the fishing can be stellar. Currently, the best bite has been with light streamers and nymphs.
Be sure to get out and enjoy this great weather and hot fishing action while spring is still in the air.
March 26th, 2013
The end of March is nearing and the Bradford Pears are blooming, but east Tennessee is doing it's best to hang onto this cold, wet winter. The past two days have each seen a solid two inches of snow on the rooftops in my neighborhood. It has melted away rather quickly and the ground temperatures are warm enough to keep it off the grass all together. But don't be fooled. It's still pretty darn cold out there right now. In typical east Tennessee fashion, the weekend forecast calls for 60's and sun.
That special time of the year has finally arrived. The point where TVA shuts the water off to fill area lakes to summer pool. We love this time of year because it gives us what we want the most. Consistent fishable flows on all of our tailwaters. We're still enduring weekly rain events that push the lake levels up quickly. The National Weather Service is predicting a nice spring with less than normal rainfall. I bet Vegas isn't giving good odds on that at this point but we'll see.
Clinch River - Yes! Releases from Norris Dam are finally giving us anglers a break. You can find daily windows to fish but you have to pay attention to the schedules. The fishing windows maybe early at the jail or late at the weir, or even all day.....you just have to watch. The water clarity on the lower stretch is a pefect emerald.
The river is fishing as we all expected it would....very well. The fish have had a long winter off. Not having to deal with hooks and not so filling imitations all while having plenty of water has allowed the fish to heft up. Blackflies have been very active during low water. Best patterns in my boat have been small soft hackles, swung to the risers. We've moved some very nice fish on streamers during higher flows. We've not stuck any of them yet....but you can be sure we'll have the streamer rods handy when the situation arises.
Hiwassee River - Our top pick for frequent bent rods is still the Hiwassee. We're seeing a lot of active fish in the 10" - 13" inch range. What the river lacks in fish size, it makes up for in quantity. The flows have been a little spotty, but it doesn't matter. Fish where you can from the Powerhouse to Patty Bridge and you'll catch fish.
The hatch on the Hiwassee is going strong. You just have to prepare for what the weather brings. Bright sunny days will see strong morning stoneflie emergence and hendricksons will show up in the afternoon. Cloudy, cold, wet, gloomy days will provide olives most of the day. Don't worry if you miss the hatch, cause nymphs fished about 4 foot deep will work all day long. Hatch or no hatch.
Holston River - Water flows from Cherokee Dam are now dropping and allowing fishable flows. Recent schedules have allowed floats on the entire tailwater. This is our favorite time of the year on the Holston and I imagine we'll be there a lot over the next few months. So far midges are still the only hatch, but a variety of nymphs and pupae are active on the bottom. So stick with the nymphs for a little longer, those caddis swarms are not too far off.
We still have some fine week days available in April, weekends are a little more limited but we still have some weekend availability. Give us a call and get your trip planned soon.
March 18th, 2013
The first official spring day is still two days away but we've been feeling spring like for a few weeks now. Weather patterns have remained inconsistent with gorgeous sunny days and cold dreary days splitting time with rain systems. This has been one of the wettest winters I can remember. We'd sure like a chance for things to dry out a bit. Hopefully, the tide will turn soon.
Our spring season has started off with a bang. High waters have kept us off a few of our rivers, but are also opening doors for us on some of our other rivers. The Hiwassee and South Holston tailwaters love the extra flow. Maybe I should say that the guides love the extra water. The high flows allow us to do drift boat trips on sections that are normally too low during the spring. We're certainly enjoying that aspect of the wetter than normal winter.
Hiwassee River The Hiwassee is on fire right now. That's about the only way I can sum it up. Current flow patterns are two turbines 24/7. This is the way we like it on the Hiwassee. The fish can spread out and utilize the entire river for feeding and cover. I temped the water yesterday afternoon and got a reading of 50 degrees. The water clarity is good with just a slight emerald color to it. Perfect conditions for guided fly fishing on the Hiwassee River.
The fish are in great shape. It's obvious that the winter time delayed harvest has been a positive benefit for our trout. All the trout are spunky, colorful and active. The bite has been steady to incredible depending on the weather and the hatch. Early brown stoneflies are popping with regularity most days. These little stones are about a #16 and can be fished with dry or wet patterns. The Hendricksons #16 have started popping in the afternoons, especially when it's sunny. The fish will isolate on them if they are hatching in numbers.
We were in luck a few days ago when it was sunny and warm. The bugs hatched out very well and the fish wore them out all day long. We fished a dry stonefly or hendrickson with #16 dropper nymphs and our lines were tight all day. When it was all said and done, we'd boated 119 fish and there's no telling how many we missed or long disntance released. The next few days were a little more modest with catch rates near fifty fish a day, but the action was still steady. The next few weeks should only get better as spring weather gains a little stronger foothold on the south.
As for our other favorite rivers....We'll, we've really not had a good opportunity to fish them much. Both the Clinch and the Holston have been giving some occasional windows, but they have been short and falling later in the day. I have spent some time pulling streamers on the Clinch on high water and was impressed with the fish I saw. I'm really looking forward to seeing some low water on these two rivers. TVA is scheduled to begin filling area lakes soon. In the meantime, we'll keep working the Hiwassee River and loving the spring hatches.
Our April calandar is filling fast. The weekend of the 6th and 7th is my only open weekend remaining. We still have some availability for weekdays so give us a call if you want in on our great spring guided fly fishing trips.
Captain Rocky Cox
March 6th, 2013
We made it! We survived! Winter is over. Winter might have something to say about that though. East Tennessee received a dusting to several inches last night. Spring is fighting back though as this weekend will see highs in the 60's. It's time to get out and wet those lines.
With springs arrival we have a few other important dates and reminders to share.
Your Tennessee fishing license and trout stamp expired last Friday. Click here to visit TWRA's website to renew your fishing license and trout stamp. Also, as some of you may already know, TWRA now has a one day all species non resident license available as well as the classic three day model. All of my out of state anglers have applauded these options.
March 10th, This Sunday we spring forward an hour as daylight savings time begins. I know this is welcomed news to everyone that enjoys being outside.
Thursday March 14th. We'll be speaking at the Clinch River Trout Unlimited monthly meeting. My presentation is titled "Drift Fishing Tailwaters for Trophy Trout" and will last about an hour. It's free and open to everyone. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the parish hall of St. Francis Episcopal Church, 158 W. Norris Road, Norris, Tenn. Come out and say hello, enjoy the show and hear some of the good things the Clinch River Chapter is doing to help the river.
Now onto the fishing. The Hiwassee is flat out on fire. Fish counts of 75 - 100 fish are not uncommon on our recent floats. We're still seeing a few shad and white patterns are still turning up above average fish. We're also seeing the spring bugs starting to move. Best setup is a heavy white streamer of your choosing with dark nymphs (#14 - #16 princes nymphs) trailed as a dropper. The recently ending Delayed Harvest season was a huge success and the river is chock full of healthy fish.
The Clinch River and Holston Rivers are both coming into form. Scattered flow schedules have kept us scrambling but things are starting to settle out. We're expecting steady, fishable flows in the next few days. We will be out there pulling streamers until the steady flows start up.
Let's go fishing!
February 19th, 2013
It's late February and Spring is just around the corner. Well, the official start of spring isn't until March 20th, but my spring season starts March first. We always experience scattered warm days throughout winter here in east Tennessee and they get more common as soon as March shows up. Mother Nature also begins to awaken in March. Trees begin to show buds, days get longer, and the fish start fattening up after the winter season. It's one of the best seasons to be on our southern tailwaters and I'm very blessed to see it each year.
January was a wild month here in the Tennessee River Valley. A mid month weather system brought 8 to 11" inches of rain to the southeast and left many areas saturated to the point of flooding. TVA had the tough task of moving heavy flood waters through the Tennessee River system without flooding all the towns from Knoxville to the Ohio River. They did a fine job by utilizing their system of dams to drain each of the tributary rivers as well as the main stem of the Tennessee River. The lake levels are returning to normal winter levels and fishable flows should soon be abundant.
The Hiwassee River is currently our top choice for a guided fly fishing trip. The best shad kill of recent history has been happening on the Wass' for the past few months. Perfect trout sized shad (1.5" to 2" inches) have been coming down river, sometimes heavy and sometimes just sporadically. They are perfect meals for our hungry Delayed Harvest trout. White streamers are the go to patterns for shots at quality fish. As a bonus, we also have a solid hatch of winter stoneflies on most days, giving us the opportunity to fish dry flies. Our spring hatches of Hendricksons and Grannom Caddis are just around the corner and we're going to have a river full of shad fed, fat DH fish to eat them.
The Clinch River is also on our radar for the near future. The last several weeks have seen significant sluicing flows from beneath Norris Dam. The lake levels are quickly appraoching TVA's desired guideline levels for this time of the year. Favorable flows should start showing up in the coming week and by the middle of next month they should become common. The fishing is typically very good after large flow events. The best bite initially will be on midges and scuds, but the sulphur nymphs will start moving next month and will become very important to all anglers. The river will be pretty busy at all the access points, especially on the weekends. Floating the Clinch will provide opportunities to get away from the crowds and enjoy the solitude and tight lines.
The high waters of the past month have provided me with an abundance of free time. I've taken advantage of the time at the tying vise. Replenishing my fly boxes and filling client orders. Tying patterns that I've tied thousands of over the years. I often look at my flies as soldiers as they come off the vise. They all look the same and are designed to be deadly against their prey. They go to battle every day against the hungry trout, in some rough environments. Some get tattered and torn from the forces of water, rocks and teeth. Some become MIA before ever seeing a hugry trout's mouth. Falling victim to low hanging branches and violent sonic booms as they snap off and fly into the wild blue yonder. Some of them will become famous as they catch hundreds of fish, large fish, and some that are talked about over the evening scotch. Finally, some of my flies will travel far away, to be used by anglers on their home waters, becoming stories I'll hear about when they come to fish east Tennessee with me this spring. Truth is I never know the fate of any of the flies that come off my vise. But I always imagine every single one of them firmly attached to a fat rainbow's upper lip.
Now's the time to get on the books for March and April. These are very busy months for active fish and we'll be busy chasing them.
January 23rd, 2013
2013 is here and it brought with it a mixed bag of weather. We've spent some 70 degree days on the water since New Years Day. We've also seen 8 - 11"of rain across the region in just over 3 days. Now, late in the month, we're finally getting a little taste of winter like temperatures. The weather is going to do it's own thing during the winter, but come March, all bets are off. Spring will start providing comfortable days and we'll find ourselves out on the water every day.
The massive rain event we saw last week has thrown a wrench in the plans of all Tennessee anglers. Most all of the area dams have been spilling or sluicing large amounts of water downstream. All of our favorite tailraces are included and currently blown out. I would imagine some of the rivers will be back in shape in another week or so. Some may take a few more weeks to get right. The good news is the fish are there, they are not being pestered, and are likely finding plenty to eat in the flood waters. They'll be fresh and ready to go once Spring blooms into action.
The winter fishing has been solid when the weather and flows have cooperated. The highlight of the winter season has been the Hiwassee River. The Wass' is almost 4 months into it's second Delayed Harvest season. The DH has given the trout time to grow without the threat of ending up in a skillet. The Hiwassee has also had one of the best shad kills we've seen in years. The shad kill here is a big event that get's the fish keyed in on high protien, easy to get meals. Fish that normally don't come out from under their ledges during day light hours are now lurking and taking advantage of the feast. This years shad have been small. A little more than an inch and a half long. They come down river in waves and somedays are thicker than others. The trick to getting the big fish during the shad kill is to fish when the shad are not coming down the river in large numbers. Fish white streamers, both weighted and unweighted with floatant. Use a dead drift and a variety dying shad style movements. You never know what you might turn up.
Last week I received some great news from our friends in Kentucky. It appears that the USCOE Dam Remediation project is coming along better than had been projected and Lake Cumberland might be filled to normal summer pool this year. It's been six years since this happened last. You can read more about the story here by clicking here . Many of you have shared many magical days with me on the Cumberland Tailwater, catching some incredible fish, and I know your just as excited about this news as I am. It won't be long before we're stalking big browns on the lower river once again. Fishing holes with names like Alexander, The Dark Side, and The Missing Link will soon be on our radar once again. I can't wait.
I'm currently booking dates for March and April and it's looking like it's going to be a very busy spring season. Now's the time to get your dates on the calendar. The spring season brings some of our best and most dependable days of the year. The weather is comfortable and pretty, the lakes are filling for summer, and the fish are feasting on spring hatches. We fish 12 months a year, but these 3 months of spring are the most popular with my clients. Don't miss out on this spring's guided fly fishing trips in east Tennessee. I look forwarded to seeing everyone in 2013.
November 27th, 2012
Our fall season has been in full swing now for several months and the fishing has been great. Now that we've wrapped up Thanksgiving, we're looking ahead toward December and the start of our winter fishing. We've seen some great fall weather here in the south. It's bound to change sooner or later, but for now we've been enjoying fairly mild weather and much less rain than our average.
Our fishing has been solid everywhere we've fished. Whether on the Delayed Harvest waters of the Hiwassee or the larger tailwaters around Knoxville like the Clinch and Holston, the fishing has not disapointed. We've seen lake turnover on all of our rivers which usually means the start of winter fishing and colder water. Winter is a great time to fly fish in the southeast. Mild weather coupled with less angling pressure can make for special winter days. Here's what we're expecting to be hot this winter.
Clinch River TVA has reached winter pool levels on the Clinch. The flows have remained spotty though. It appears that TVA is hoping to get lake levels a little bit lower than 1000' as we enter winter. If our current rain patterns hold, we will see dependable flows soon and they should remain consistent. The river is in great shape and will make for a great destination in the coming months. Fishing success will come on small flies. Midges and blackflies in sizes between #18 - #24 will be your best options. Of course you can always work larger streamers for shots at the true Clinch trophies.
Holston River The Holston is seeing flows that are up and down. Fishing windows are not uncommon but you have to pay attention to the forecast and schedules. Again, TVA is doing a good job on getting lake levles down for winter and more dependable flows should be coming soon. The water temps have started falling and conditions should be prime for all the holdover rainbows that weather the summer. I really enjoy the Holston in the winter as it seems the crowds are non existing. We might see an occasional guide boat but even they are rare in the winter. Look for great nymphing and streamer fishing from now until March.
Don't forget about that special angler in your life. Nows the time to look into gift certificates for the holidays.
Capt. Rocky Cox
October 29th, 2012
October has come and is almost gone. We've had our busiest month of fishing ever,working all over Tennessee and Kentucky .I've been meaning to update the fishing report for weeks now but I've just not had time. I've been on the water almost daily and the evenings have been filled with threads and feathers. Anyway, enough excuses. Here's a current fishing report for the Tennessee region.
Summer lasted well into October this year. In fact, we had a very pleasant month. Seems like every day was sunny with highs in the low 80's. All that changed this past Saturday as our first real weather of the fall season showed up. The front is driving to the east to join Hurricane Sandy and form the superstorm that's filling the current news. Thoughts and prayers go out to those in the storms path, It appears that Tennessee and Kentucky will be missed for the most part. However, colder temperatures have set in. Remember to dress in layers as you enjoy the fall fishing.
November is just around the corner and it appears we're set up for another great month of fall fishing. All of our area rivers are fishing very well and with a little help from mother nature, we could be set up through December. Here's a quick report on what's happening and where.
Hiwassee River The Hiwassee is my pick for a dependable fall trip. The 2nd Delayed Harvest season is in full swing and I must say that 've been impressed with TWRA's efforts. The river is absolutely packed with fish and we should have favorable water flows for the rest of the season. TVA will continue to draw down Hiwassee Reservoir over the next few months, and that means plenty of water for floating and enjoying the Hiwassee River on a guided trip.
The fishing has been very active. I'd estimate that we're getting over 200 bites a day and landing at least 40 -60% of them. The techniques have varied greatly from day to day. You just have to watch the bugs and let the fish dictate what you use. Good numbers of winter stoneflies are hatching, several months ahead of schedule I might add. The October Caddis are also popping in decent numbers, along with a smaller brown caddis. The real treat though is the blankets of BWO's. Sized between 20 - 22, they are small but your patterns will be easy to fish. Just add olive droppers to your larger flies. When the bugs and fish are not active on top, don't be afraid to go sub surface with your nymphs and ight streamers.
Cumberland River The flows have been very stable over the past few weeks. The USCOE have not been generating at all. Instead, they've been running a constant sluice from beneathWolf Creek Dam. The discharge has ranged between 1500 - 2000cfs. These flows are very workable and should fit in nicely with our fall fishing. We are concerned about the super storm that's supposed to hit the east coast tomorrow. Hopefully the Cumberland Watershed will miss most of the heavy precipitation.
The fishing has remained the same for us when the waters low. The best results have come on the gravel bars and tailouts. Nymphing with heavy nymphs along the bottom has yeilded the best results. We've also seen success with larger streamers fished slow through the tailouts. The large browns are starting to move and we've had a few shots at them, only to lose due to small tippets. It's going to be a toss up between fishing smaller tippets for more fish or fishing some heavier lines for the chance at a big fish.
Clinch River TVA is still lowering Norris Lake. Lake levels are currently a little over 1003 ft. Leaving just three more feet to drop until they reach winter pool level. We will continue to see spotty release schedules until they reach winter pool. Some days have workable flows while other days don't. The weekends are giving the only dependable fishing windows right now.....but that should change soon enough. The river is still very cold and will only get colder as we move into late fall.
The bite on the Clinch depends on where and when you fish. Pods of fish will be super active and then you drift into fish that would rather run than eat. Best bet now is to fish long leaders with small tippets, 6x and 7x at the largest. Use small indicators when you nymph and don't false cast over your target. It's best to cast above your target and drift ten to twenty feet into them. The best bite has been on small midge emergers and large stonefly nymphs. I know stoneflies aren't common on the Clinch by any means....but the fish like them. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.
Holston River The Holston is still seeing flows that are not particulary angler friendly. The weekends are the best time to target the Holston, but some weekdays are also floatable. The water temps on the Holston have started to fall from the upper sixties. This is great news. I've seen a great number of holdover fish and am very encouraged about this fall.
Our best results have been with streamer setups. Fished downstream with a quick strip retrieve. Black patterns with some flash will get the attention of the fish. Nymph setups should come around in the next few weeks as the fish get revived by the cooler waters of fall. Also, look for stocking to resume at Nances Ferry next month.
It's a great time of year to be on the water. Plus it helps us Big Orange fans forget the miseries on the football field. Give us a call to book your November and December trips now. See you on the river.
On a side note. Rocky Top Anglers now accepts all major credit cards. Several of my clients have harped on me for years to start taking credit cards. I've finally come around folks.
September 20th, 2012
Here we are. Late September and fall will show up on our doorstep this weekend. It's been a great summer here in the southeast, but I'm ready for fall. Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, including great southern trout fishing. The changing season brings cooler nights and comfortable daytime weather and the trout love it. Some of the best fly fishing in the southeast will be happening in the next three months, and the fall colors will provide a gorgeous backdrop. All of our regional tailwaters should provide great opportunities for anglers looking to bend a rod. Now's the time to book your fall guided fly fishing trip. October and November will be busy.
Our weather has been fairly nice this summer. We've had some heat like always but late August and September were very comfortable. The entire Tennessee valley experienced a large rain event earlier this week, as a very fall like cold front pushed east. Some areas saw over 5" inches of rain. Hopefully we won't see too many more of these type rain makers for the rest of the year. Anyway, for the next few weeks expect cool or even cold mornings and comfortable days. Make sure you dress in two layers.
Clinch River The Clinch has been seeing fishable flows on most days. The river muddied up some from the interstate down earlier this week. I canceled my Tuesday trip but the river has cleared well enough to fish Wednesday and was perfect for today. It had just a slight stain and the normally, crazy spooky fish lost a lot of their inhibitions. I expect it will be gin clear again by the weekend. Norris lake is currently sitting around 1010' feet and is about where it needs to be on TVA's operating guide. The tailwater should continue to see workable flows as long as we can dodge future 5" rain events.
The fishing has been very good over the past month. We spent a lot of time pulling streamers in the stained water yesterday, but the bite was solid. Today, like many of our other days on the Clinch, was spent nymphing. The fish were dialed in on a little #24 emergent midge that I tie and they were crushing it. We fished it about 12" deep under a tiny piece of poly fuzz, and almost every eat came complete with a lighting flash under our indicator. Truly one of the most fish filled days that I've ever spent on a river. Dave....if you read this, you were the man today! It didn't matter if you were looking at your indicator or not, 15mph wind gust or sunny calm, chewed to shreds fly or fresh from the fly box. I honestly think you could have caught them without a fly. Great day man!
Hiwassee River The large rain event earlier this week was perfect for the Wass' and our fall lineup. As you may or may not know, the Hiwassee tailwater and supporting watershed love the rain. We should be shaping up for a great season on the Hiwassee River, as TVA will be running the water and we'll be floating the drift boats.
The Hiwassee Delayed Harvest regulations will go into effect on October 1st. I was pleasantly surprised with TWRA's venture into a tailwater DH last year and am eagerly looking forward to it this year. The river will become 100% catch and release, and artificial flies and lures only from October through February. October is going to be a lot of fun this year. I can't wait for the large orange October Caddis and dry fly fishing.
Cumberland River The flows have been very fishable on the Cumberland for the past couple months. The USCOE have bumped up the flows this week in response to the heavy precipitation, but the schedule still leaves a good low water window. We're really hoping to avoid any more large rain events in the Cumberland watershed. So far so good, lets just keep our fingers crossed.
The fishing on the Cumberland has been very consistent. Stick to the gravel bars and shallows to find the active fish. I've really not been seeing too much in the deeper water. The late summer terrestrials weren't quite as good this season as the majority of the active fish seem quite content in the faster water. We've been doing well with a variety of nymphs. Just remember tungsten and dark colors. Over the next month we should see the big browns making their way towards the shallows.
South Holston I've spent several days on the South Holston over the past month. We've been splitting time wading in the mornings and floating in the afternoon. I'm expecting to see a little more flows over the next few weeks but that's not a bad thing as the water flow makes the river perfect for the drift boat.
The fishing has been very technical at times. I watched several large brown trout rise up and refuse natural sulfurs. Now that's picky fish. They demand a great presentation, on a long and light leader. Not necessarily the easiest thing to do in slick, glassy water. Everything changes once the water comes on and we enter the drifter. The fish are much less picky when the rivers pushing some water. Fooling a trout with a dry fly is one of life's little pleasures. Fooling these mayfly PhD toting trout is very rewarding.
Please note that a significant portion of the river will close to fishing in November for the brown trout spawn.
Now's the time to get on the books for October and November. We look forward to seeing all the fall regulars again and welcome everyone looking to see what guided fly fishing in the south is all about. See you on the water.
Captain Rocky Cox
August 24th, 2012
So far 2012 is going to go down as one of the weirdest weather years I can remember.....I'm fully expecting blizzards in November. Well, maybe not but I wouldn't rule them out. This has been the mildest August I've ever been a part of. Most of the country is experiencing extreme drought conditions, but by and large, we've dodge the heat and got a good share of rain systems. It's been nice this August and that's all I need to say.
The fishing has remained excellent. The only challenge has been getting the right water releases at our target tailwaters. This is the time of year when TVA starts drawing down our local reservoirs to make way for heavy winter and spring rains. We've not had an over abundance of rain by any means, but TVA still draws the lakes down a considerable amount. So this means they will be running a good amount of water over the next few weeks and we'll just have to keep playing river shuffle to stay on the best flows.
Cumberland River The Cumby has been a fly fisherman's dream. We're having to do dawn patrol trips in order to beat the higher afternoon flows, and it's allowing us to get in 8 - 9 hours on low water. The river is pushing 59 degree water and that's great for this time of the year. As of right now, the Cumberland is fairly dependable for getting in a good float on low water. This should continue at least until the next big rain system moves through. Historically, the watershed doesn't receive as much rain during the August - October time frame.
The fishing has been excellent. We're catching a great mixture of rainbow trout, brook trout and brown trout. The fish are averaging about 13" and they are full of fight. We're also seeing a few exceptional fish each trip and you never know what's going to be on the end of your line when you set the hook. Our best results have come on dark on dark prince nymphs between #16 - #18. Fished on the bottom of the faster water.
Hiwassee River The Hiwassee tailwater is our most dependable float trip right now. High water is great for our drift boat trips, and the trout. We should have plenty of flow here as TVA starts draining Hiwassee Lake. The Hiwassee tailwater is one of the rivers we like to fish when the water is running. So, we should be in great shape here as fall approaches and our Delayed Harvest season begins. The DH will begin on October first. We've been pleasantly surprised with the success of the first DH season and are looking forward to this second go round.
The fishing on the Hiwassee for trout has been pretty solid. Nothing much has changed here over the last month. We're not seeing many fish over 13" inches but we're catching plenty of fish. The fishing here isn't as technical as the Clinch so the trips are well suited for any skill level and anyone seeking a bent fly rod. The trout are eating dries well, including Isonychias #12, Blue Winged Olives #18 - #22 and #16 Ginger Caddis. Their also eating a variety of wet flies and nymphs with reckless abandon.
Clinch River The Clinch River is still one of my top picks despite the fact that TVA is blowing it out daily, the only for sure low water we have now is on the weekends during the recreational releases. Fishable flows during the weel have been hard to come by over the past few weeks. The lake is falling a little over a 1/2 foot per day. If we can avoid any large rains, we might start seeing some workable flows in the next few weeks. I'm watching it closely and will be out there when we can.
The fishing has held up fine when the waters been low. We're still hitting the water early, to beat higher afternoon flows. Best producers on low water have been #20 black fly larvae. With that said, a large variety of small nymphs and midges will work just fine, as long as your fishing with stealth.
August 7th, 2012
Everything changes for us tomorrow. Most of east Tennessee's kids will be starting school, and we'll be seeing less traffic on area rivers. Not that its been crowded by no means, but places like the Hiwassee are about to be a lot more peaceful. Now's the time to start planning your September and October guided float trips on one of our southern tailwaters.
Our area weather has been a little wetter than normal over the past few weeks. Pop up showers have been possible most every day. We've noticed an increase in flows at many of our trout tailwaters. The fishing has been very dependable when your floating on your target flows. We've been playing the river hop to keep us on the best fishing. Right now, we're primarily just booking the dates and deciding where to fish the night before the trip.Here's a look at my picks for the best guided float trips in east Tennessee and the southeast as we move into late summer.
Clinch River Guided float trips on the Clinch River are still the top pick for east Tennessee. An ever changing flow schedule has kept us on our toes though. Weekend flows are still managed under the TVA Recreational Schedule. So the weekends are a sure bet. The weekday schedules are a little more sketchy and are day to day on being a go or not. Norris Lake never reached full pool this summer.
The fishing has been great. The fish have enjoyed the cooler, wet weather and the bite has shown it. Fish are not as spooky as they were a month ago, especially during the mid day hours. Our sulfurs are all but gone. I still see a stray now and then, but those are being left for the swallows. Nymph fishing under a light indicator is the bet bet for staying hooked up. Terrestrials are providing for some exciting strikes so don't be afraid of using a hopper pattern as your indicator. We're seeing our best quality fish on our guided Clinch trips.
Hiwassee River The Hiwassee tailwater is our most dependable float trip right now. High water is great for our drift boat trips, and the trout. If we can keep seeing some rain in the watershed, we should have water well into the fall.
The fishing on the Hiwassee for trout has been pretty solid. We're not seeing many fish over 13" inches but we're catching plenty of fish. The fishing here isn't as technical as the Clinch so the trips are well suited for any skill level and anyone seeking a bent fly rod. The trout are eating dries well, including Isonychias #12, Blue Winged Olives #18 - #22 and #16 Ginger Caddis. Their also eating a variety of wet flies and nymphs with reckless abandon.
Cumberland River The Cumberland watershed ha taken on a good dose of rain over recent weeks. Flows are much more angler friendly in the early morning hours and further downstream. The COE is releasing a large amount of water mid morning and it's best to be downstream of it to extend your fishing window.
The good news is that the fish are eating really well when the water is low. Tungsten beaded flies between #14 - #18 are working best right now. Best patterns seem to be darker nymphs with less flash and more buggy. We're still rising some trout on hoppers but the best terrestrial bite is later in the day than we've been able to fish due to the higher flows. The fish quality has been great....all fish are hard fighting and look good.
Other Rivers. We're starting to see more opportunities to fish other local rivers now that we're doing a bit of river hopping. Two of the notable rivers are the Caney Fork River near Cookeville TN and the South Holston River near Bristol. Both Rivers should make for a great destination over the next few months. They will be a favorite choice of many of my long time clients who are looking to see some different waters. Both offer shots at trophy trout and both are fun places to toss flies.
July 30th, 2012
This summer seems to be flying by. Fall will be here before you know as July wraps up with August on deck to finish out the season. This has been one hot summer indeed. We're pushing the 90's everyday near Knoxville and the rest of the southeast. You'd think the heat would have us down but you'd be mistaken. We've had a great summer season and the fish have been doing their part as well. Our tailwater streams are still flowing cold and are fishing very well. I'm expecting things to hold like this for the rest of the summer and into fall.
Clinch River The Clinch River remains our top pick for guided fly fishing trips near Knoxville. Although the days are hot, we're seeing a cool fog on the river for the majority of our trips. The fog provides us a breath of fresh air and makes for a nice way to beat the summer heat. The TVA is operating Norris Dam at great levels for float trips, giving us early morning low water and afternoon higher water.
We're catching a mixed bag of fish right now. Plenty of brook trout are biting during the morning and the rainbows and browns are coming on later in the day. The best and most consistent action is still on small nymphs fished with stealth. Use the smallest indicators you can and even stretch your leaders out to 13' to 14'. Don't ignore the hoppers and cicadas in the trees. They tend to work best with the water on.
Hiwassee River Our guided float trips on the Hiwassee are very dependable right now. We're not catching large fish, but we're keeping a tight line most of the day. This is the place to go if your looking for easy numbers. We've got daily water to insure your trip goes off without a hitch.
Currently, I'm still wearing isonychias out. I've been fishing a trailing nymph behind them and splitting the action. I'm pretty sure you can catch fish on just about anything you fish with.....I just prefer to work the dry flies this time of year. On a side note, I saw Tony Wilson on the water yesterday. He was fishing with a friend and took the time to row his wooden boat over to say hi. For those that don't know Tony, he's one of the pioneering river guides of the southeast, and one of the best guides I ever had the privilege of working with. He taught me a lot and not a day goes by that I don't miss seeing him on the water. It was great seeing him out enjoying the day.
Cumberland River We're seeing great flows for guided drift boat trips on the Cumberland every day. Currently, USCOE has the water off during the early morning hours and then running a good amount more during the heat of the day. Flows are still fairly cold, measuring around 58 degrees. I'd expect USCOE to start their constant sluice in the next few weeks. This will also be a good flow.
Fishing is best in the faster water and runs. Look for fish in the riffles, and current seams along the bank. Some fish are holding in deeper pools but they seem very slow to react to flies. Best flies and techniques right now are focused on nymphs. Hopper/dropper rigs are producing a little, with an occasional big fish. The hopper fishing should get better as summer wears on, a higher flows fill in the river.
July 17th, 2012
Our heatwave has passed and we're now seeing more normal summer time weather patterns. Morning lows around 65 and afternoon highs in the upper 80's. We've been getting some beneficial rains in the southeast. Usually spotty afternoon showers but we saw some area wide soakings last week. This should be our pattern for the next few weeks, but then again....I'm just a fishing guide.
The fishing has been great. Several of our favorite locations are giving prime conditions for guided fly fishing everyday. With prime flows comes hungry fish. Here's what's happening and where.
Clinch River The Clinch is flowing at a great level for float trips. Not too much water and not too little. As always, the Clinch River is the coldest tailwater around. Water temps seem to range between 48 degrees and 56 degrees, depending on where the pulses of water are on the river.
The bug action hasn't changed much since my last report. Still seeing the small black caddis. Fish are still taking the emergers better than dries. Good old indicator fishing with a variety of nymphs is working well. Best results are on #18 - #22 patterns. #20 Pheasant tails have been pretty hot. We've also had some luck hopper fishing during higher flows. Good fish will sometimes take advantage of a big offering.
Hiwassee River The Hiwassee is still seeing our normal minimum flows as per the TVA Recreational Releases. I personally wouldn't mind seeing a little more rain in this watershed. The releases were seeing are still cold and the fish seem to be active and healthy.
The fishing action on the Wass' is perfect for anyone looking to get a bent rod. The fish are actively eating dry flies, wet flies, and nymphs. They are also very forgiving to a drag presentation. I'm fishing isonychia dries almost exclusively. Lot's of small browns in the upper river. Plenty of better fish throughout. Great pick right now for easy action.
Cumberland RiverWe're seeing great flows for guided drift boat trips on the Cumberland every day. Currently, USCOE is generating a little in the early morning hours, then a little more in the late afternoon. Falling water is fishing best. Flows are still fairly cold, measuring around 58 degrees. I'd expect USCOE to start their constant sluice in the next few weeks. This will also be a good flow.
Fishing is best in the faster water and runs. Look for fishing in the riffles, and current seams along the bank. Some fish are holding in deeper pools but they seem very slow to react to flies. Best flies and techniques right now are focused on nymphs. Hopper/dropper rigs are producing a little, with an occasional big fish. The hopper fishing should get better as summer wears on.
July 3rd, 2012
A heat wave has hit the US with a vengeance. Here in east Tennessee we've seen triple digit temperatures for the first time since 2007. We broke all time high records four days in a row over the end of last week. Luckily, it feels like things are starting to move more towards normal summer patterns. The fishing has remained productive despite the high air temperature. Our tailwaters are supplying cold, clean flows as the demand for electricity increases. Watch the flow schedules and plan your trip for the best flows.
Clinch River Norris Lake is still 3' below normal summer pool. The discharge water temperatures range from 45 degrees in the early morning to 52 degrees late in the day. We should continue to see fishable flows here for mos of the summer. Power demand will probably mean higher afternoon flows.
The fishing has remained productive. The bite is noticeably better during the early morning hours until mid day. Fishing during the high sun requires longer, finer leaders and more accurate presentations. Keep your indicators small to match your nymphs and midge patterns. We're seeing a solid #20 - #22 black caddis emergence every day. The fish are on the emergers and your presentation should be slightly below the surface. Still seeing some sulfurs, making a sulfur dun a great indicator/point fly.
Hiwassee River The Wass' has two faces right now. Low water flows in the mornings, then high flows during the late morning and afternoons. The low flows are good for wading anglers, but the fish like the colder releases and tend to be a little sluggish during low water. Generation releases are dumping 55 degree water into the tailrace and that's when we're targeting our drift boat trips.
The HI' is doing what it does every summer, providing dependable dry fly fishing. The Isonychias are emerging, along with several species of caddis, a lot of baetis, and a few sulfurs. Bugger/nymph fishing is still a strong producer, but a iso/bwo setup is doing equally as well. We enjoy the dry fly action so that's what we've been doing. As usual, the Hiwassee doesn't produce the largest fish but there's plenty of them with the occasional nice fish mixed in.
Cumberland RiverThe Cumby is back. The USCOE is giving floatable windows every day now. The water clarity is good and the water temperatures are great for this time of year. Now's the time to fish the Cumberland River.
The fishing has been good. Look for fish in the riffles and eddy lines. Various nymphs are working well as long as you can get a good drift along the bottom. Pheasant tails and prince nymphs are top producers now along with standard beadhead midge patterns. The next two months will hold some really great dry fly fishing.
Give us a call for more information about a summer time Cumberland River Guided Float Trip.
Holston River The Holston has a couple different options right now. Trout fishing has remained solid on the upper river during low and falling water conditions. The lower river has seen really good smallmouth with some fair trout mixed in. The smallies are active on a variety of poppers and streamers while the trout are working on midges, crane flies and olives.
Hope everyone has a safe and fun Independance Day. Remember, despite some recent rains, fireworks should still be used with extreme caution to prevent fires.
June 19th, 2012
The summer season is here. Spring will officially give way to summer tomorrow evening, but that's just a formality. We've been seeing hot and sunny for what seems like the whole year. We're seeing our summertime hatches now and we're expecting our late summer action to be just as exciting as years past. Here's what's happening now and what to look for over the next few weeks.
Clinch River The hot and fairly dry weather pattern hasn't hurt the Clinch in the least. In fact, it's been good for us fly fishers. TVA flows have allowed for daily fishing, and the windows have been perfect for guided float trips. The water temps here have been and will continue to be some of the coldest in the region. I'm expecting to see these conditions continue all summer long.
The bite on the Clinch has been fairly consistent and dependable. Early morning hours up until 1:00pm or so will be the best time to fish. Then it gets a little tougher until the evening bite picks up. We're still seeing a few stray sulfurs here and there and the fish will still eat them. The best bite is still on small nymphs and midges. The best setup has been a sulfur dry with your subsurface offerings drifting about 2 feet below.
Hiwassee River Our summer dry fly destination is in full swing. The recreational flows have began and we've got great water for daily drift boat excursions. The river is running clean and cold and the bugs and fish love it.
The bite has been strong every day out. We've got a lot of bugs on the water now, including the sought after isonychias. The large brown drakes will keep the fish looking up all summer long. We're also seeing some larger BWO's (#16 - #18) hatching in fishable numbers. Personally, we've been fishing dries from the put in to the take out. Using a variety of my tried and tested isonychia patterns, with a smaller dropper behind it. The dropper can range from small olives to a larger iso pattern. We've been dropping wet flies, emergers, and even a second dry fly. All will work as you hit the likely looking spots.
Cumberland RiverThe Cumby is back. The USCOE is giving floatable windows every day now. The water clarity is good and the water temperatures are great for this time of year.
My friend and colleague Brandon Wade operates Cumberland Drifters. He's been fishing the Cumby a lot over the past few weeks. and his reports have been very promising to the kind of fishing I like to do. I'm now actively booking Cumberland River float trips for late July and August. This is when I like to target larger trout using large trout techniques. Those who have fished the Cumberland with me in the past know this kind of fishing isn't for everyone. You'll work hard, it's hot, and sometimes we don't have high boat counts for caught fish. But, the trade off is opportunities for large "grip-n-grin" style fish.
Give us a call for more information about a summer time Cumberland River Guided Float Trip.
May 21st, 2012 Here we are, one week from the unofficial start of summer, and our weather in the southeast is keeping up with the program. It seems like we've been in a summer pattern for several weeks now. We're seeing plenty of sun and warm temperatures with just a chance of afternoon storms. This coming week, including the Memorial Day weekend, is supposed to be hot with highs in the low 90's.
Our water conditions have been very good on most of our tailwaters. It's about to be good on all of them as we get set in our normal summer recreational flows at some of our rivers. The next 90 days should be some of the most predictable and easy scheduling flows of the season.
Clinch River Our guided float trips on the Clinch tailwater have been some of the most consistent of the year. Norris Lake is still several feet below TVA's desired summer pool. So we've been seeing minimum flows from Norris Dam. This sets us up for very fishable water. The water temperature is still very cold, averaging in the low 50's. I'm expecting to see these flows Monday through Friday. Weekends will soon see TVA's recreational flows, which work well for us and give us a little more afternoon water to work with. The extra water will help the afternoon bite.
The fishing has been solid. We're catching a good mixture of brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Early morning to noon has seen the most consistent bite. The action slows down once the sun gets high in the sky. I'm still seeing some sulfurs in light numbers. Mostly sporadic throughout the day. It's still not out of the question to experience a light hatch in the evenings, but I'd say the bulk of the hatch has passed. The normal Clinch River midges are always there for the fish. Dry dropper setups are still working well. Best patterns have been small sulfur nymphs (#16) with #18 -#20 tan midge pupas dropped off the back.
Holston River Cherokee Lake is another of our area reservoirs that has not yet reached summer pool. The psychics at TVA seem to think that they will not reach summer pool any time soon. In all honesty, this works out well for us Holston tailwater anglers. We'll be seeing low, fishable flows for some time to come and the minimum releases should help extend our stored cold water.
Our guided float trips on the Holston River have been great. We've been working the entire river from Cherokee Dam to Nances Ferry. The biggest bulk of the caddis hatch has passed, but the fish are still willing to take a well presented caddis dry. However, the most active bite has been on attractor nymph patterns and black fly larvae. I've also had a good amount of success in the slow water working light streamers. As with the Clinch, the best action has been in the early part of the day.
Hiwassee River Memorial Day weekend always marks the start of the Hiwassee River Fly Fishing season. We fish the Hiwassee a lot over the course of a year, but it's the summer season everyone looks forward to. TVA's recreational flows on the Hiwassee insure us enough flow to float the gorge to Reliance.We'll see the low water flows for the remainder of this work week, and should see the change this coming weekend.
The lower river caddis have come and gone but we've got some good news. Summer! Soon enough we'll be floating the classic Hiwassee float and we'll have all the sulfurs, blue wing olives, and isonychias we can handle. I'd expect the fish to be happy and eating on a variety of flies. Once the waters flowing, pick out your favorite setup and fish it hard and you'll be on the fish. Now's the time to book your summer dry fly fishing trips on the Hiwassee.
April 27th, 2012
The Tennessee valley experienced a mild case of dogwood winter earlier this week. Some areas saw patchy frost while some of the Smokys received snow. Just goes to show what crazy weather we see here in the south. We've also had some noticeable rainfall on the edges of the weather fronts. This week should see temperatures becoming more seasonal, and possibly even summerish.
Clinch River Water conditions are still great on the Clinch River. We're seeing the turbines off for most hours of the day, with either a pulse or a longer 1-turbine late in the day. This works out well for our guided drift boat trips. I kindly expected to see some color from this weeks rains but the water was still pretty clear.
The fishing has remained solid. The majority of our success has come on nymph rigs, fished on light 6x tippet. We're still seeing sulfurs but the emergence is lighter than wee saw a week ago. Maybe the cold mornings slowed the hatch a bit. Anyway, the sulfurs are still hatching sporadically from about noon on. Best action for this stage of the hatch is on pheasant tails. Try swinging your fly to the sub surface rise forms. You might be pleasantly surprised. Also seeing midge clouds like always, and a scattering of #18 gray caddis.
Best pick flies: #16 -#18 Pheasant tails, weighted or unweighted, #22 black fly larvae, #18 - #22 zebra midge.
Holston River Cherokee Lake continues to fill while Holston tailwater fans enjoy great spring fly fishing. We've seen exceptional flows that are perfect for drift boat fly fishing. The water temperatures are in the middle to low fifties at Nances Ferry.
The caddis are taking over. I'm seeing them in fishable numbers throughout most of the day. The challenge now is to match the specific species, and stage the fish are eating....and it can be a challenge. Dry/dropper combos are working well to zero in. Weighted caddis pupa and assorted nymphs are working for the morning bite. Switch to a dry caddis pattern with either a light emerging caddis, or a soft hackle dropped off the back.
April 16th, 2012
East Tennessee fly fishing at its best. That's what we're seeing right now. Perfect weather, perfect flows, clouds of hatching bugs, and rivers full of hungry fish. We've been spending our time local to Knoxville, working on the Holston and Clinch Rivers. However, water flows on some of our favorite COE tailwaters are shaping up. The Cumberland and Caney Fork rivers are seeing fishable flows and we should have some reports for these rivers soon.
Clinch River We've had a little more than a month of fishable water on the Clinch and it's great to see how well the river wintered this year's high water. The river is chocked full of fish with a high percentage of slot fish (14" - 20"). Expect lower low water flows than your used to seeing, until the pulses hit....then use the extra water to fish some of the off beat lies and runs.
Our guided fly fishing trips on the Clinch have been very productive. The sulfurs are popping sporadically and should peak out sometime in the next few weeks. Still a lot of midges to work with as well as some small gray caddis. Best bets for flies are still nymphs. BH midge pupas in tungsten and brass are working well for most fish. Later in the day, you'll want to add a #16 Pheasant Tail as your point flies.
Holston River The Holston remains a top pick for those traveling through the Knoxville area. The guided fly fishing trips on the Holston have been very productive and predictable.The overall fishing pressure has picked up as all the local guides have been busy here, and I've noticed an abnormal amount of traveling guides making floats as well. The fishing has remained solid despite the pressure.
The bug action on the Holston has been off the charts., I counted four different caddis species crawling around on me during this past Saturday's guided float trip....Big meaty #14 - #16 Grannoms, #20 Cream and greens, #18 Cinnamon, and a smaller #22 -#24 Black Caddis. The water was covered with them. Also spotted in fishable numbers were #16 Sulfurs, #20 bwo's, #16 cream crane flies, and more midges than you can count. Dry/Dropper rigs are working very well right now. Match a bug and add a nymph and you've got a winning combination.
See you on the river!
March 30th, 2012
Our calendars finally say it's spring. This always means great fly fishing. It also marks the time when the TVA start filling lakes to make summer pool. Anglers can expect to see some of the best tailwater flows of the season. At least some of the most predictable. This is a great time of year to take a guided drift boat float trip.
Holston River Clinch RiverWe've been enjoying great conditions on the Holston for several weeks now. Low water flows have been the norm and the bite has been hot. The resident rainbow trout are in great shape this year, and each catch is putting up a great fight, often making several leaps before coming to the net.
The morning fly fishing action has been fast and furious as we've been working swift water nymphing techniques. Hot flies include #16 - #18 tungsten pheasant tails, #14 - #18 tungsten prince nymphs, and #18 - #22 black midge pupas. Mid day - afternoon action has seen us fishing dry dropper setups on the drift. Good choices for dry flies include the standard elk hair caddis #16 - #18, and CDC caddis in the same sizes.
This is going to be a great spring season on our Holston River guided fly fishing trips.
We're finally getting fishable water on the Clinch River. This is welcomed news to the masses who enjoy the technical fishing with small bugs. The water clarity has been suspect after rains, but seems to clear quickly. These fish have had a long winter to feed under very minimal pressure.
Right now, you can enjoy fishing the normal fare, under nine foot 4x leaders and 5x tippet. The fish will get spooky soon as they see more flies and indicators. So if your bite is slow, add some length to your leader and drop tippet size. Patterns for our guided trips have ranged greatly from zebra midges to thread body midges. They all seem to work well now, just stay small in the #18 - #22 range.
TVA has started filling Hiwassee Lake, so we've started seeing some mixed flows. This has us shifting float sections of the river for best conditions. We're floating all three sections of the Hiwassee River on our guided fly fishing trips.
The bugs are hatching in great numbers now, and most broods are coming off way ahead of schedule. Dry dropper setups are fishing really well. Grannom caddis patterns #14 -#16 and #16 para adams are working very well as point flies. Fish your favorite nymphs and soft hackles under your dries and you'll do fine with them. Expecting to see sulfurs in the coming weeks.
March 13th, 2012
Spring has sprung. Well, maybe not officially but try telling that to the redbud and bradford pear trees. Our mild winter weather, while bumpy at times, has been very pleasant to say the least. The early season warmth has meant great fly fishing on all of our guided fishing trips.
Current flows on the Hiwassee River have been superb for guided fly fishing float trips. The TVA is performing some repairs at Apalachia powerhouse. This has left them with one operational turbine. Combine this fact with our surplus of winter rains and you get a stable, steady water fow of 1700 cfs. This is a magical water level, as the fish can feed actively on lower water and my driftboat has enough water to get down the river. It's going to be a fantastic spring.
The fishing has been stellar. The winter delayed harvest season is over and the river is chock full of fish. The fish and the bugs love these constant flows we're currently experiencing. I'm working nymphs (#14-#18 hares ears, deep caddis) and light streamers in the mornings. The fish are eating on the drift, swing, and strip.....so be ready. Afternoons are reserved for dry fly action. The caddis (#18 gray, #16 ginger, #22 black) are active almost all day to some degree or another. The current highlight hatch is spring brood of true baetis and the hendricksons.
This is a great time to be fly fishing the Hiwassee River.
Our friends at TVA are finally giving some float trip friendly flows on the Holston. The river has seen a lot of water over the past few months, but TVA will be giving many more fly fishing friendly flows over the next several months with summer pool levels on their mind.
The caddis factory is open! If it's spring time on the Holston you can expect to see the caddis. Our guided fly fishing trips have been very consistent, as we work the caddis hatch and emergence in the mornings and egg laying mating flights in the afternoons. The resident rainbow trout obviously had a great winter because they are fat and sassy. Some of the hardiest bows I've seen.
Nows the time to book your April and May guided fly fishing trips on the Holston River. It's going to be a great season.
February 4th, 2012
Winter is flying by with March quickly approaching. But in all honesty, winter has been a little lacking this year. To say we've had a mild winter would be a huge understatement. This has left us with some very nice, comfortable days to spend chasing the fish.
The one downfall to the mild temperatures has been the rain. The entire southeast has received plenty of precipitation over the past few months. Which has kept some of our area tailwaters running high. Planning a trip to certain rivers will get easier in the next couple months as The TVA begin filling area reservoirs for summer pool.
The Wass' has been our tailwater salvation this winter, as most other rivers have been blown out. We love high water on the Hiwassee and the fishing hasn't disapointed us either. The new Delayed Harvest (DH) regulations have made sure plenty of willing fish are in the water and we've been seeing solid fish counts every day out.
This time of year we see good streamer fish as winter shad kills keep the fish on the hunt. We also get a fair amount of dry fly fishing with the winter hatches of stoneflies and olives happen with regularity. The Hiwassee remains our top pick for a dependabe winter float.
Both of our Knoxville tailwaters have been running full bore and planning a day on either has been tough. The one good thing about it is the fact that not many others have been pestering the fish either. We're expecting some great conditions on both rivers come March. March, April and May are historically some of our best months on these rivers and our weekends usually book up fairly quickly. Give us a call if you'd like to check these destinations out come spring.
See you on the water.Captain Rocky.
December 12, 2011
Our South East Fly Fishing Guides are busy, and the fishing is great!
Happy Holidays. Fall is almost over and winter is moving on in. We've seen a lot of rain over the past few months. It's come in large bursts, in between very pleasant weather systems. Luckily, it really didn't seem to bother us or the fish too much. We just played the river shuffle as we found good water levels day to day. It's finally caught up with us now as the TVA is spilling all dams on the Tennessee River system. This includes all of our high mountain units.This could make it tough to find good water levels for this winter, but we've still got some great options.
The delayed harvest season on the Hiwassee is in full swing and we've been pleasantly surprised with it. Winter fishing on the Wass' is often filled with white streamers and little olives. The colder tempertures will bring on the shad kill from the upper reservoir, while the tiny winter BWO's love the gray days. Later in the month we'll start to see some early winter stoneflies as well. Gotta love dry flies in the dead of winter.
The Hiwassee loves heavy flows. So the excess rainfall is a great thing for the Hiwassee. This little fact makes the Hiwassee a great bet for a winter trip.
Both rivers have fished very well this fall. Only problem has been finding the right flows for fishing. With the heavy rains we've seen....catching one of these rivers fishable might be a tough task.
The fishing will be great when you can get out there. Both rivers have had a great year, with plenty hefty fish on the prowl. I'm keeping my eyes on the flows and am ready to get back out there.
I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and a great new year.
October 23rd 2011
Great Drift Boated Fly Fishing in east Tennessee.
The fall colors are starting to show all over the southern appalachians. I'm seeing more color ever day. The weather has been in normal October form.....cool, crisp mornings and pleasantly warm afternoons. The region has seen a few rain systems move through, but the flows have remained fairly steady and somewhat predictable.
Clinch River I've been spending a lot of time on the Clinch. The fishing has been very technical over the past few weeks. We're seeing a good amount of quality, slot size fish...but we're really having to work for them. Low water has been the most challenging aspect. We're fishing 14' leaders tapered down to 6 and 7x, with fairly large bugs, In Clinch River standards anyway. Size 14 and 16 brass beaded nymphs are working best. Needless to say, we've seen some epic break offs. The one turbine flows are much easier to fish. We can ramp up to 10' 4x and 5x leaders, under big indicators. Tungsten all the way.
Hiwassee River Well, the Hiwassee DH is on. The TWRA has stocked the river fairly well, with a lot of 10" - 13" fish. I've seen a few larger holdovers lurking, but by and large, we're seeing average catches around 11". The good news is a tight line isn't that hard to come by. If your looking for gorgeous scenery and a bent rod....The Hiwassee is the place for you.
September 21th 2011
Our South East Fly Fishing Guides are busy, and the fishing is great!
We've started seeing a little bit more rain lately. So far nothing excessive or more than normal. So we should continue to see favorable flows on most of our area tailwaters. The weather is still cooling and becoming more fall like by the day. Soon we'll be enjoying fall foliage as we fish.
I've noticed over the last few trips that the bugs haven't been popping in the numbers I'm used to seeing. The fishing has remained solid though. Fishing the deeper slower water has been better as of late than fishing the flowing shallows. We've been doing better with larger bugs and that's nice for a change.
We're eagerly awaiting the start of the new Delayed Harvest (DH) season on the Hiwassee River. The Area from the Powerhouse to the Railroad Trestle in Reliance will be operated as a DH from October 1st - March. IT coincides with the annual October Caddis hatch as well as the winter shad kill. This could be an exciting year for fall fishing on the Hiwassee.
Recent rains from Tropical Storm Lee and normal seasonal rainfall, have raised the flow rates a small amount. The COE are currently discharging 3000 cfs. This is actually a great flow for banging the banks with hoppers and streamers. It's also not bad for deep nymphing. I'm expecting to see some nice fish out of the Cumberland this fall.
August 30th 2011
Great Drift Boated Fly Fishing in east Tennessee.
Fall is fast approaching. The sycamores are starting to yellow up and they are typically the first to show. Our mornings are feeling great, but we're still warming up into the upper eighties and lower nineties in the afternoons. The best news is that all of our local watersheds dodged a bullet as Hurricane Irene traveled north and stayed to the east of the Appalachians.
Clinch River The fishing has remained dependable week in week out. As long as your good to fish on the weekends. Minor adjustments in tippet size works better to improve the bite than does fly selection. Fish any nymphs or midges as long as your working between #16 - #22. The fish are loving the dead drift "twitch", and with small tippets, break offs can be tough so be ready to set firm but with a soft touch. We had several nice fish break off last weekend.
Hiwassee River Summer time recreational flows are still giving fishing opportunities all week. The water temperatures are holding very well for this time of the year. Nothings changed much since the last report. I'm still doing very well fishing dry flies most of the day. Evenings are best now for the Isonychia bite. Best option now for an afternoon half day.
Cumberland River I'm pleased to report that the Cumberland is fishing. My friend Dave and I took a scout trip and we we're very pleased with the fishing. The water was cold, and the water clarity was the best that I've seen it in a few years now. We spent all day fishing hoppers. The rises were not constant by no means, but we had some great opportunities. Personally, I rose five fish that I'd put in superb class. I'm managed to land one of them. Dave also had a great hopper eater make it to the net.
August 13th 2011
Great Drift Boated Fly Fishing in east Tennessee.
We're finally catching a break from the heat here in East Tennessee. The predicted lows for the coming week include a few upper fifties and that is welcomed news. Fall is on the way.
I've been concentrating my efforts on the Hiwassee and Clinch Rivers. The flows are still workable most any day of the week on the Hiwassee. The Clinch has become a weekend destination as TVA has been draining Norris Lake during the week.
The USCOE has began a constant sluice of 1500cfs on the Cumberland River. This is great news and I should have a fresh fishing report from Kentucky soon. If everything works out....this could be another great fall on the Cumberland.
Dry fly fishing remains a mainstay on the Wass'. The Isonychias are still fluttering around but the fish are looking to kill any that hit the water. Look closely though at the risers you spot as they are also keying in on the small olives.
The weekend recreational flows have been perfect for fishing around Knoxville. We're still seeing an occasional sulfur....but the best fishing remains under the surface with a variety of midges and nymphs. We're also moving some fish on streamers later in the day.
July 30th 2011
Our South East Fly Fishing Guides are busy, and the fishing is great!
The Wass' continues to be a great summer time producer for us. I'm still working dry flies from start to finish. We're fishing two fly tandems with large #10 - #12 Isonychias as point flies,with much smaller #20 Baetis droppers. Rises are ranging from explosive air to gentle sips but all the fish are looking up. The water is still very cold for this time of the year and I'm expecting the fishing to hold up well into the fall.
Holston River & Clinch River
Both rivers have fished extremely well every time I've been on them this year. Unfortunately, I've been so busy on the Hiwassee that I've not had a chance to fish either river since my last report. The reports I'm hearing are great. I expect to see both rivers again soon as I have a few trips coming up in the Knoxville area very soon.
July 12th 2011
It's summer time on the Hiwassee and we all know what that means......Isonychias. The river is running cool and the fish are responding well to a wide variety of tactics. The old standby booger/nymph is producing a lot of fish, but the dry fly bite is good enough to just stick with your 4wt and a #10 Iso. Really working the seams and breaks hard during normal high water and the rises are plentiful. Oh yea, the stripers are in.
The Clinch is finally starting to see some lower flows. Weekend recreational flows are fairly dependable and we're starting to see some lower lake levels which means some weekday possibilities. The fishing has been very good when you can find the water off. Some sulfurs are still popping and if you cover a lot of water you can find pods of risers. Best bet is still small midges (#18 - #24) fished between 1' and 3' deep.
The fishing has been solid on the Holston all season. All three sections have been very productive, but with the current heat wave, that might change as the lowest float warms up a bit. A lot of the heavier caddis hatches have passed but some dry fly action is still available in small windows. Best bets for dries are wispy #16 - #18 crane flies and small griffiths gnats. Overall, your best action will come on nymph rigs using tungsten nymhphs. Pheasant tails, Hare's ears, and most other standard nymphs will produce well if you get your depth right and a good drift.
August, Dick Williams looks good in Red. But let's face it....with a trout like that did anyone even notice Dick.?
August, Shane N. took to fly casting line an old pro. He didn't do bad at catching either.
July, Steve A. had us in tears with laughter but he was all business when it came to this rainbow.
July, Grayson E. and a fine rainbow trout. Watch out for this kid.....he's got game.
July, Michael S. learned how to fish from his did, and today he showed his stuff.
July, How about this rainbow for your first cast ever with a fly rod. Way to go Jake.
July, Tigris and a beautiful, early morning rainbow trout.
June,Doug and a spunky Holston River rainbow.
June, Phil L. and his morning wake up call. Well done my friend.
June, Mike C is developing a bit of a reputation as a trophy hunter. Well done Mike.
June, Jason R had a get it done attitude and he did indeed get things done.
June, Up and coming fly fishermen, Grayson E. with one of his many fine catches of the day. Well done my friend.
June, kirby broke out an old rod and reel and instantly showed us that it was more than capable for the job.
June, I always have a ton of laughs when Mike B. comes up from Alabama, he always catches nice fish too.
June, Mike "Horse It" Cleverdon has done it again with this 5lb rainbow trout. His tocuh and control are tuned up and that big brown is just around the corner.
June, Butch J. shows us a 4lb rainbow trout. Well done Butch. Check out some of the other nice fish he caught here.
June, Master camper craftsman and aerial surveyor, Jim Dow with a big rainbow and a big smile.
May, Mike "Horse It" Cleverdon and a beautiful buck we found in between rain showers.
May, Carey M. of Notchey Place, showing us one of the reasons to fish during rainy weather..
May, I've know Jason S. for many years but it was only recently that I learned how prolific of an angler he is. Great day on the river my friend.
May, Nice fish Eddie, but I know you and I will both remember the one that got away longer than we'll remember this one.
May, Rich came in to visit his father and his father treated him to a few days on the river. Great to see you again Rich.
May, I must say that Ronnie B. and Ben B. fish harder than any anglers I know. We literally did sunup to sundown for a couple of days. We always have a blast from boat ramp to boat ramp and it usually carries over into something off the grill and a nice scotch.
May, Ben B. hit paydirt with this chunky rainbow trout. Thanks for a great time guys....but next time, let me hold the car keys.
May, Dave K. was looking to go fishing to warm up for an upcoming trip to Montana. I'd say he's in top form and ready to go.
May, It's always nice to fish with another Lenoir City native and I like it when they show me fish like this. Great job Wes J.
May, David "Road Dog" Thompson and one of the great fish he landed.
May, It's a rare day on the water when Dave G. doesn't land one of these or something close.
May, Carey M got a reel workout as this rainbow trout tested his drag and touch.
May, Dick Williams making ready for another day on the water.
May, Gary Morgan and a beautifuly colored male rainbow trout.
May, Jerrod Adams did a fine job landing this chunky rainbow.
April, I was happy to get Dave Gallelli back on the river, he always shows me nice fish.
April, An underwater release shot of a 20" inch rainbow trout.
April, What can I say about this picture. Dick Williams and another trophy rainbow trout. He's having quite a year for sure.
April, Jeff Wade and a Holston River football,
April, This is how you nymph in high water. Wesley M. made it look easy.
April, John M. and a high water nymp eating rainbow trout.
April, This is Jack Bradshaw and a fine rainbow trout. He later lost broke off the largest brown trout I've ever seen. Jack and I will never forget that brown.
April, John Carr and his special fly got the job done. Should have asked for a few of them for my box.
April, Dick Williams fishes with me often and he always manages to catch a few nice ones. This one was very nice.
April, This may be one of the best pictures I've ever taken. This is a bald eagle trying to catch a trout that it had just knocked out of an ospreys talons. It missed and the trout splashed down in the river 4 feet from my boat. I know the eagle would have swooped down and retrieved the trout if we'd not been parked on top of it. Simply awesome.
April, Stewart C. shows us a large rainbow trout caught on one of his special flies.
April, It was a great day of fishing and fellowship and this nymph crusher was icing on the cake for Roger R.
April, It may have been dumping rain and chilly, but this lady was on fire. Deloris S made it look easy as she boated this gorgeous rainbow during a downpour.
April, Pete S. and a rainy day pig. Some people complain about the rain but these folks didn't bat an eye and they earned a bunch of hard man points for their efforts....as well as catching some nice fish.
April, Mike V. fought this male rainbow up and down the river before cashing in on this grip-n-grin.
April, Natalie V. and a trophy catch.
April, Master angler Dick Williams showing us one of his citation rainbows from the river.
April, Hey hey, even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then. Gotta love pulling streamers.
April, Breck Davis is an official streamer fanatic and this gorgeous rainbow was his prize for the day. However, you should've seen the one that got away.
March, Gary Morgan with a nice brown that exploded on the fly when Gary rang the dinner bell.
February, Dick Williams hit pay dirt with this colorful rainbow trout.
February, Matt Havers had the magic touch. His first fish was a 19" rainbow then he followed it up with this 21" model. Well done my friend.
Here's Vance with a very pretty brown trout, but not even close to the size of the big one that got off before this one. Hard to say which one will remember the most.
Vance just knows how to get it done. He's the definition of working hard and playing hard and I always enjoy his visits in January.
Steve Fields and a healthy rainbow that he landed with great skill and a steady hand.
This picture is for my friend Ronnie Bernath. He admires the great blue heron and who can dispute their fish catching prowess.
Black Friday is a day of misery for most people. Dr. Plumb has saved me from that circus for many years now and the good fish JuJu usually comes with him.
October, Kenny Royster and his wife joined us for a day on the river and they both landed a few very nice fish. You can see some more pictures from their trip by clicking here.
October, Carey Mchugh finds a nice South Holston River brown trout.
October, This might be one of my favorite grip n grins of the year. Charlie Moffett caught this 19" rainbow and he never stopped giggling and laughing from the time he hooked it until we released it. I've seen some happy anglers in my day but I loved seeing Charlie catch this one.
This is Miller's Island as 10 guides launched for the Tournament.
David Folkerts is the COO of PHWFF and he's also a retired Captian in the US Army. He has been at this for a few years now. First as a participant in a PHWFF program and now working for this great organization.
David caught some beautiful fish and was very impressed with the Clinch RIver tailwater.
Our boat finished second and Dave and Bob got some cool looking trophies . Bob also won a pretty cool Fishpond Pack. Sure wished we'd counted that last 15" incher guys.
Oct, I spent a couple of soggy, rainy days with Walt G and Dick S. These guys wasted no time complaining and promptly got to work catching fish. Check out one of Walt's other nice fish....click here.
Oct, Dick S. made it a habit of catching nice fish. Check out some his other great fish by clicking here.
Oct, It rained and was chilly, but Rocky Anthony and his son Hudson didn't complain a bit. They just laughed and smiled while enjoying east Tennessee. Check out some of the other pictures from their trip here.
Oct, Bill Forrester showing us one of his special moments from a recent trip. Check out Bill's video showcasing his skills and some flying rainbow trout. Click Here.
Oct, John and Wesley Mutziger came up to try the Clinch River for the first time and I think they did very well. Check out some of their other catches here. Great job guys.
Oct, Wesley M. found this nice rainbow trout as we were approaching our take out. Well done Wesley.
Oct, This is Bill Davis and he's holding his first fish ever on a fly rod. I'm pretty sure he's ruined for life now. Well done Bill.
Oct, Chris Eaton showing us one of his many nice fish from his recent trip. Check out one of his other nice rainbows here. Check out our youtube channel for a cool video of Chris landing another nice rainbow. Great day my friend.
Sep, Doug Little did a fine job of bringing this rainbow trout in the boat. Simply beautiful.
Sep, Brian L. landed some fat fish on this day but this one here takes the cake.
Sep, Carey M. showing us a 15" Caney Fork brown trout. Well done my friend.
Sep, Kyle B had a banner day on the river, topped off with this gorgeous rainbow trout that missed 20" inches by a hair. Check out some of his other trophies by clicking here. and we even have a few videos of him in action here.
Sep, Tanya M admitted that she may very well be hooked on fly fishing now. Well done Tanya.
Sep, Thomas M took a break from his busy daily grind to wrestle in some of these guys. Check out his other nice catch by clicking here.
Sep, Kristin B. has been fly fishing since childhood and it's easy to see that her grandfather taught her well.
Sep, David B sharing a happy moment with us. Smiles and laughs were plentiful.
Sep, Zack Grandstaff said he was a first time fly angler. I think he can retire now if he wants. Check out other pictures from his great career here. Well done my friend.
Sep, Chris Eaton with a beautiful, wide tailed rainbow trout. Great job Chris.
Aug, Ronnie B has been a friend a client for many years. This trip was for his son so Ronnie spent the day in the back of the boat. This is the only smile of his I caught on camera but I have a feeling he smiled a lot on this day.
Aug, This is Ethan, RB's son and study. Ronnie has done an outstanding job of teaching Ethan how to be a fine fly fisherman. Click here to see some of Ethan's other highlights from the day.
Aug, Wyatt is no stranger to having his pictures taken with nice fish. His skills are growing and I imagine we'll be seeing many more grip-n-grins from him in the future. This was his first fish of the day. Click here to see his last fish.
Aug, This is Marsha H. and a hard fighting rainbow that put her drag system to the test. Well done!
Aug, Gene H. and a very colorful rainbow trout that leaped from the water over ten times before we netted it.
Aug, Dick W. returned from shoulder surgery with style as he boated this gorgeous 20" rainbow as well as some other great fish. See his other catches.....click here.
Aug, Dave G. knows how to get it done. He landed some fine fish on this day. Here's a link to see some more of his work.
Aug, Bob S. landed this gorgeous brown trout on a #22 thread bodied midge. Great job Bob and good luck in November.
Aug, Blake S. and one of his trophies for the day. You can see another nice rainbow that Blake brought in by clicking here.
Aug, Nothing's quite as special as a young angler's smile on the river.
Aug, Russell H. and a fat rainbow in the fog.
Aug, Rusty was given a float trip as a birthday present. His first fish was a 19" rainbow trout. That's a fine gift in my opinion.
Aug, Mitch gave Rusty the trip as his birthday present, and this was sweet fishing karma coming back to him.
July, This is Daniel and his first trout on a fly rod. Great job man.
July, Charles and a very healthy rainbow trout, out in the pretty weather.
July, Alan found a lot of these guys on his float trip. Thanks for letting me know that we made the right call!
July, Kevin B. and one of the nice rainbows he found on the river.
July, Hunter is a great baseball player and a fine angler.
July 12th, Brian, loving some dry fly fishing and dry fly catching.
July 10th, Jeff W. may have a questionable Winston, but it appears to work. This 19" inch rainbow trout was no match for it.
July 10th, Jeff W. scored big with this 20" inch rainbow trout that weighed 4lbs. I'd say his rod works very well.
June 26th, Parker Morgan holding a 17" brown trout for me.
June 18th, David H. scored big with this healthy rainbow trout.
June 14th Mike C. with a fat foggy morning rainbow trout.
May 31st, I was puttingthe boat on the bank for lunch but Jason R. had a different plan. Like hooking, fighting and landing this rainbow that almost reached 21 inches.
May 31st, Brian H. found this healty rainbow working a seam line for sulphurs.
May 28th, I think Sarah T. is a natural. She worked her flies on light tippet, with a great drift and a steady hand. Then she showed her dad and I three quality fish along with many others. Great job Sarah. Check out her other nice fish below.
May 28th, Sarah T.
May 28th, Sarah T.
May 28th, Greg T. landed this beautiful rainbow after several runs against a heavy drag.
May 24th, Brandon Wade is a longtime friend a fellow fly fishing guide on the Cumberland River. He knows how to work the flyrod with a big fish on the line.
May 24th, Brandon and I had a fine time sharing guide tales but we also enjoyed seeing some nice rainbows.
May 22nd, Alan H. made a solo trip north tp see a new river and the river treated him with some of these.
May 21st, Gary M. proudly displays his fat rainbow trout that he wrangled out of a deep, fast hole.
May 20th, Fly fishing is a great way to relax between college and starting a big internship. Good luck Garrison.
May 19th, Dave G. does it again, delivering this reel screamer of a rainbow trout.
May 18th, Vance P. always gets the job done and he didn't disapoint with this fat rainbow trout that pushed 20".
May 14th, This was Jim Dow's first trip in a drift boat. Yep, I think he's hooked after getting to fight this beauty in.
May 13th, Ed got ahold of pure nitro laced TNT with this sky walking rainbow trout. It was Michael Jordan in trout form.
May 12th, Steve M. and a dandy rainbow trout that didn't break us off.
May 8th, Dave G. found this porky 20" rainbow in fast, deep water. Way to go Dave.
May 8th, Mike Cleverdon is getting good at "Grip-n-grins" photo ops.
May 6th, Bob Harris showing off a true pig of a rainbow trout. These fish are simply gorgeous.
May 6th, Bob H. and a fine rainbow trout he brought to hand. Look at the super wide, water pushing tail on this one.
May 6th, Charlie H. showed off her prowess with a fly rod as she worked this big carp to the net with ease.
May 2nd, Brian Casey from Chicago had never fly fished until this day, he also had never caught a trout until this day....and this was his first fish on a fly rod.
April 25th, The Michael Bisher Group have been fishing with me since at least 2005. These guys are tough and often bring their Ohio weather along with them, yet we've never missed a trip to avoid the weather. This trip saw rain showers and even a few rumbles of thunder. This trip also saw Michael Bisher breaking into the 20 inch club with this porky rainbow trout. Way to go Mike.
April 25th, Michael also found this colorful rainbow buck that put up a great fight before posing for this shot.
April 25th, Dick Jackson from Ohio didn't let some passing showers deter him from landing a grip-n-grin rainbow trout.
April 24th, Dave Keebler and one of the prettiest rainbows ever. This male was painted up for the spawn and was a prized catch for us.I know all the rainbow hens love this guy!
April 24th, Dave Keebler and a true pig. This one actually went "wee wee wee" during the fight and when we released him to go home. This fish came up just shy of 20", However it measure right at a hefty 4.5 lbs. It made several huge leaps during the fight, click here for a video that shows a few of the later leaps in the fight.
April 24th, This is Brad Fullington and his first trout ever on a flyrod. He proceded to land about 7 more of these throughout the day as well as about as many "sportsman's releases".
April 21st, I met Stewart Crane several years ago on the Clinch River. He was wade fishing and landed a nice rainbow trout that I took a picture of from 20 yards away. It was nice to get a few shots of him today from better range. Here he is with a very fat and very healthy rainbow trout.
April 17th, Gary Morgan with a fat rainbow trout that couldn't resist our offerings. We'll get those others next time Gary and I'll bring the sunscreen.
April 16th, The osprey is one of the finest fishermen in the world and we had the pleasure of watching this one work for a short time before he moved on to less crowded waters.
April 13th, Dan Carr with one of the hardest fighting rainbows I've ever seen. This rainbow made two runs from the side of the boat into the backing before Dan brought him to the net.
April 13th, Dan Carr with another fine rainbow trout. We couldn't have asked for better weather or action.
April 12th, Dan Carr could not be stopped this past weekend. In fact he and his brother enjoyed some great weather and some very nice fish. Check out more of their great pictures by clicking here.
April 12th, John Carr and one of the grip-n-grin rainbow trout he brought to the boat.
April 10th, Dave Gallelli got this fat and sassy rainbow trout after a long fight and some words of instruction from Mike Cleverdon....."Don't horse him"!
April 7th, Bill Forrester showed some incredible skills as this pig rainbow trout ran out into his backing, across the next ledge downstream, and several runs under the boat before we put the fish in the net.
April 7th, Again, Bill showed off his skills as this nice trout ran under a submerged log, yet Bill insisted on landing it anyway. Bill brought it to the boat fter some delicate work with the rod.
April 7th, Bill topped off his fine day by putting an 8lb carp in the boat while using 6x tippet. Excellent work Bill.
March 29, Fishing in the rain isn't for everyone but Ben B. makes it look easy as he shows us his trophy 20" brown.
March 29, The rain was pouring down for most of the day and we think that got the big boys out and about. This rainbow measured 20" and weighed right at 4lbs.
March 29, Ronnie B does it again. This fat and sassy rainbow made his reel scream. It measured 19" and it should have left his flies alone.
March 28, R.B. is always good for a grip n grin and he didn't disapoint with this one. It weighed 4lbs and measured right at 20".
March 28, It's not a trophy trout but it was a heck of a fight on 6x tippet. This carp weighed 8lbs and made Ben smile.
March 22, Rick R from Utah nailed this gorgeous rainbow that was less than an 1/8 of an inch under 20".
March 21, Erik K. found this 16" rainbow sipping midge emergers and fooled it into eating a #24 blood midge.
March 1o, Mike C found his grip n grin in this beautiful rainbow.
March 8, Lane K. found this trophy rainbow just as the sun was setting on our day.
March 1st, Scott N. and a gorgeous, fat rainbow that pushed the 20" mark.
March 1st, Nick N. with the first fish of the day, a solid 18" rainbow trout.
Feb 25th, Nate N. showing off one of the most beautiful rainbow trout I've ever seen. It came within a quarter inch of making twenty.
Feb 17th, Tommy H. made this 18" inch rainbow our first catch of the day!
Feb 16th, Breck D. and a Clinch River rocket!
Feb 13th, , We measured 8 inches of snow on our upper back deck.
Feb 13th, , The heaviest snow we've seen in east Tennessee since 1993.
Feb 12th, , Breck D. and a hungry, streamer eating, Clinch River brown trout.
Jan 20th, Dick W. shows off another 19" rainbow. His second grip-n-grin of the year.
Jan 20th, John J. caught a lot of nice fish but he finally hit paydirt with this gorgeous 19.5" rainbow trout.
Jan 20th, Vance P. nailed this 18.5" rainbow as the sun was setting and we neared the boat ramp. He called it a good one for the road!
Jan 2oth, Vance P. and a very colorful and fat 17" rainbow.
Jan 2oth, Vance P. was within a 1/4inch of 20" inches on this 4lb rainbow trout.
Jan 19th, Vance P. makes several trips to fish with me every year. I've always called him the Iron Man of the south because it doesn't matter what the weather looks like, what the flows look like, how far he has to drive, or how little sleep he got the night before........he's fishing when he books to fish. He also never fails to show us a few nice fish and he didn't let me down this time as he shows us beautiful 19" rainbow.
Jan 13th, Dick W. shows off a 19" rainbow. His first grip-n-grin of the year.
Jan 11th, Britney C. and a super fat 19" rainbow.
Jan 11th, Alan H. found this football shaped rainbow trout in fast, murky water.
Jan 2nd, 6000 cfs is enough to chase most anglers away. Those that braved the elements earned hard man points....and they cashed them in on 19.5" rainbows. Nice job Kevin.
Jan 2nd, Kevin G. with an 18" rainbow trout. It was the first fish of the day I think.
John W. lamded this fat 17.5" rainbow as the sun fell below the mountains. Love the reflection in John's glasses.
Larry R, the nymphing machine, with a 19.5" streamer caught rainbow trout.
My buddy Vance P. shows off a very pretty 17" rainbow.
Tyler P. hit this fat 18" rainbow trout and worked him to the net like a pro.
Charles W. scored a great catch with this 19.5" rainbow
All Charles said when he hooked this vibrant rainbow was "Get the net".
John landed this gorgeous rainbow from the back of the boat.
Milton landed this fish as part of a double with his buddy John's (pictured above) large rainbow.
Rorke landed this 18" rainbow and another 17" rainbow during a day where the bite was slow.
Nothing like a fat slab rainbow trout to put a smile on Jim's face! OK, so this isn't Jim.....but he did stay in a Holiday Inn last night. Nice fish Jeff and tell Dan I fixed his label too.
Rick A. finds a gorgeous Hiwassee holdover rainbow.
Jeff J. and an 18" inch rainbow he landed out of the deep.
Jeff J. landed this 19" rainbow using very small flies and very small tippet.
Now that's a happy angler. Great fish Pete S.
Pete S. landed this big rainbow trout on a dry. October caddis!
Rich S. and a fat 19" rainbow trout. Way to fo Rich.
Dave G. does it again. Nice rainbow Dave.
Dick W. witha super wide tailed rainbow from the SoHo.
A wading angler enjoys the cool fall weather and gorgeous colors.
Gary M. shows us a gorgeous 17" inch brown trout.
Wyatt H. and an 18" rainbow trout on the Hiwassee DH.
Dick W. is always good for one of these....a 19" rainbow trout.
Wow. Not a monster hog but look at that paint job!
Gary M. and I watched this eagle chase and harrass an osprey for several minutes. Real National Geographic stuff there.
Dave G. landed this 17" Rainbow with a deep nymph rig.
Jessica E. shows off her first trout on the fly rod.
Dave K. found this hopper eating rainbow on the Clinch River.
We're still trying to get an ID on the Clinch River water fowl?
Dan said he was going to catch a carp, and by golly he did!
Joe S. of Knoxville Tennessee shows off a nice Hiwassee Brown.
Dick W. with a hot fish on the run.
Breck D and his catch of a lifetime. This brown trout measured 26" inches long and weighed 8.25 lbs on the Boga. Way to go Breck!
Now that's a face only an angler could love! And boy do we love it. I told Breck that was the face of a true warrior, a predator and a hardcore survivor.
This was my treat on my day in the front of my boat. A 24" inch 7.75lb brown trout that took my streamer and came to the boat for pictures.
Breck D. found his dry fly groove, sticking several nice fish in the old quality zone.
This is a trout T-Bone! The famous Hiwassee River Isonychia Bi-Color. Notice he stretches front the tip of my thumb to the middle of my first knuckle. A little of 1.75" inches. Beautiful Bugs.
Rhet was the victim of a camera shy rainbow and a slow shutter. Nevertheless, it was a great fish for a first time angler.
My longtime friend and client, Larry R. is what I call a nymphing machine. I always enjoy watching his techniques, but I also enjoyed him getting to fish the large isonychias.
Steve W. showing off a 15" rainbow that hammered his dry fly.
Tim working a hard fighting rainbow to the boat.
Alex and Bill enjoying the beautiful Hiwassee scenery.
Chris E. shows off a high water sulphur eating rainbow trout.
Look at the tail on that chunky 19" inch rainbow. Great catch Dick.
Here's a fat 16 incher that was wearing his Airwalks!
Dick, showing off another slab rainbow.
John H. of Cabridge Mass. bringing in a sulphur eating rainbow as rough skies closed in.
Fellow guide and friend, Skip Waybrant, bringing his boat through Towee Shoals.
Gary T. and a 14" dry fly eating machine.
Here's a neat shot of a really nice brown trout on the line.
Dry fly success was easy with the post rain hatch of BWO's.
The truck took light damage, the trailer was pounded, but my Clack shows only minor scratches. Clackacrafts motto is "Fear no rock". I'm going to add concrete culverts and fences to that list.
New spindles and tongue going on the trailer.
Check this big guy out!
Shoving off for a day of fishing.
April 21st, Tyler P. found his mark with this thick 17" brown trout.
April 21st, Tyler P. and a healthy Holston River rainbow trout.
April 20th V.P. and a 9lb, 27" carp. What an exciting battle.
April 18th Ben B. did a fine job on these guys.
April 18th He also found one of these guys. A 21" redhorse! That's cool.
April 19th. R.B. lands this 8.5lb carp on 6x tippet. Way to go R.B.
April 17th, A herd of whitetails swimming across the river.
Another flying rainbow trout. We sure love their fight.
A quality high teen brown being released back to the bottom.
Fred W. and a leaping rainbow.
Thrashing rainbows on the Holston.
Kevin, laying out a long line on the Hiwassee.
Ruddy's looked like a natural even though it was his first time with a fly rod in his hand.
An acrobatic rainbow makes one of many leaps as Dave fights him in.
D. Williams with a super wide tailed, 17" rainbow trout.
Now that's an incredible double. A 12" rainbow and a huge straw hat.
The Heron Rookery at Johnson Shoals is a busy place right now.
As part of our conservation efforts, catch and release sport fishing is starting to catch on. We've always been ready with the camera for those special grip and grin pictures, but a lot of anglers have had dreams of wall hangers over their mantle. Well that's no longer an issue. Blackwater Fish Replicas offers fine art quality fiberglass replicas of your fish of a lifetime. Check them out for your next trophy. Luke Filmer is an incredible artist and his work is beautiful and accurate down to the smallest detail.
Scott N. had lightning strike twice on St Patricks Day. He managed to catch two doubles. A double is where one fish eats the point fly and one eats the dropper and you catch them both.
A picture of one of the early brown stoneflies that are hatching on the Hiwassee River. Try #16 dark bodied caddis patterns.
We watched this raptor steal a trout from a great blue heron in mid air. My experts have identified it as an adolescent bald eagle but it does bear a strong resemblence to these images of golden eagles.
Do you want to catch fish like this. Then don't miss Rocky Top Angler's presentation at the March 14th CRCTU monthly meeting.
The Hiwassee is back below the flood guide line (blue line) but check out that 27' foot spike in January.
Norris Lake is only 1.4' feet from the flood guide. We should be good to go very soon.
A southern trout fly sampler, coming off the vise and hitting the mailbox.
Dave with a fat 18" rainbow. caught during a 70 degree day.
My friend Ronnie caught this nice brown while working my lifelike shad fly.
Ben B. Strikes again, landing a 18" shad killer on a micro bugger.
Garrison M. takes after his father Gary, finding a nice streamer eating rainbow.
Master angler Dave shows us how to find a nice brown in the murky flows from Wolf Creek Dam.
Oct 28th. Vance P. shows off a gorgeous rainbow from the Hiwassee Delayed Harvest.
Oct 24th. Sam M. found this fat 18" Clinch Rainbow in the fog.
Oct. Charlie M. landed this 17" slot fish on his birthday!
Oct 23rd. Lory H. enjoying our wonderful scenery, and fish!
Oct. Hannah P. flashing a smile with her chunky rainbow.
October. A bald eagle that I've seen around the Hiwassee recently.
Oct 14th. Laura with her first trout ever on a fly rod.
Oct 12th. Karen S. must have caught twenty fish in a row out of this hole. This was her best. A fat and colorful 13" rainbow.
Oct 11th. Fred W. and I loving the fall colors of the Cumberland.
Oct 3rd. Dick W. found another grip n grin on the Holston.
Sept 20th, Mister Dave, showing off a great 19" rainbow trout.
Dave caught so many of these slot fish that we quit taking pictures of them.
Sept 19th, Roy S. made good on this slot rainbow, and many others while working streamers in the murky wayte
Sept 15th, Dick W. with a solid 18" rainbow.
Sept 6th The South Holston has slot limit regulations. Brown trout like this are plentiful and much larger browns were common.
August 17th, Dave G. with a 17" brown that acted more like a rainbow, coming three feet out of the water three times.
August 17th, Wet wading on the gravel bars of the Cumberland. D.Williams is hooked up and enjoying the cold water.
July 29th, Awesome guide and friend, Tony Wilson enjoying a day on the water.
July 24th, Roy S. of Fayetteville TN showing us what he found after lunch. An 18" Clinch River Rainbow.
July 12th, Dennis L. and his Cumby trophy. 19.25" Brown Trout.
July 5th. A fat, 21" brown trout from the Clinch River. Nice fish Jerry.
Here's a few pictures of great summer brown trout on the Cumberland from years past.
Rob with a mean looking terrestrial killer.
Eric shows us another shallow water predator.
Michael displays this bubble line bruiser.
May 18th, Mike B. hooked up on a Holston River Rainbow.
May3rd, Dave R. shows us a fat fish in the slot.
May3rd, Matt R. with a 16" Clinch River snake.
Saw this bald eagle on the Clinch River today.
May1st, Pat's 17" rainbow isn't too shabby for a first time fly fisherman. Great Job Pat. Remember..."Stop that rod high" and "NO BANANAS"! :-)
April 30th, Gary M. and a picture perfect 18" rainbow trout.
April 29th, Ronnie B. strikes paydirt with this 4lb, 20" Rainbow Trout. Awesome job R.B.
April 27th, Dave G. and a vibrant 19"Clinch rainbow .
Anglers Gary and Dave enjoying a beautiful Spring day on the Holston River with Doug .
Jason shows off one of his fat Clinch rainbows.
R.T.A. guide Doug Moore netting a fat Holston Rainbow Trout.
Hooked up with a leaping rainbow trout.
Dick with a nice, fat Holston Smallmouth.
I'd like to take a moment to welcome Doug Moore to the staff here at Rocky Top Anglers. Doug is an excellent angler and guide, and we're thrilled to have him join us. Welcome aboard Doug!
Winter streamer fishing on the Hiwassee.
Tyler found this fast water rainbow in the most dense fog I've ever seen.
Vance always, finds a few "grip-n-grins" when he pulls his Ironman trips from Birmingham. Great to see you again.
On a day that the wind blew 30 mph constantly, Gary made good with this fat rainbow. Here's to us sad SEC fans Gary.
Here's a gorgeous Clinch River bow from the 18th. Nice Fish Dick.
A nice plump, 19 inch Clinch River Rainbow caught on the 27th. Nice Fish Rob!
Here's the 19.5 inch brown I hopperized on the Cumberland.
David Thompson showing off his hopper killing, 19 inch Cumberland Brown.
Nice fat Holston rainbow trout.
I know, this fish is far from being a monster, but it was the first fish Molly ever caught, and it was on a fly rod. Way to go Molly.
Copyright 2011 Rocky Top Anglers. All rights reserved.
Rocky Top Anglers is a professional fly fishing guide service located in east Tennessee. Our Fly Fishing Guides, Rocky Cox and Doug Moore offer guided fly fishing trips on all of the top tailwaters in east Tennessee. Guided Fly Fishing Trips on the Hiwassee River are performed in whitewater Drift Boats by our Qualified Fly Fishing Guides. We offer great Float Trip adventures with the Fly Rod on Clinch River. Fly Fishing Guide trips on the Holston River can be a very rewarding way to enjoy spring dry fly fishing in east Tennessee. Rocky Top Angler employs Qualified Fly Fishing Guides with years of experience on all the Tennessee Tailwaters, including the Clinch River, Hiwassee River, Holston River, South Holston River, Watauga River, Caney Fork River, and Cumberland River. We often find Trophy Rainbow and Brown Trout on our Guided Fly Fishing Trips. Rocky Top Anglers employs many techniques, including Dry Fly Fishing, Nymph Fishing, Streamer fishing, and Emerger Fly Fishing for Trophy Rainbow and Brown Trout. Spring Time and Summer Fly Fishing on East Tennessee Trout Waters can be incredible. Hiring the right Fly Fishing Guide for your East Tennessee Fly Fishing Adventure can be important. Our Fly Fishing Guides are well skilled with Beginners, weekend warriors, and the veteran anglers. We've been in the Fly Fishing Guide busieness for many years and have 1000's of trips under our belts. Our site has current Fly Fishing Reports for East Tennessee and surrounding areas, including all the Fly Fishing Rivers near Knoxville, Nashville, and Chattanooga. Visitors to the area attractions such as the Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area are often surprised to find such incredible Trophy Fly Fishing for trout. We're here to show everyone what great Fly Fishing we have here in East Tennessee. Captain Rocky Cox has been guiding Fly Anglers for well over ten years. Growing up near the Clinch River, Holston River, Hiwassee River, and other East Tennessee Tailwaters has provided us with fabulous tailwaters to pursue Trophy Rainbow and Trophy Brown Trout. Come visit us when your visiting the east Tennessee area and you'll find we have been blessed here with Trophy Trout Fisheries, fine Fly Fishing, and great Fly Fishing Guides at Rocky Top Anglers.