"Grinnin' like a mule eatin' saw briars."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jumpin' Jehosaphat

Not much to report, as the second verse is indeed same as the first. The water in East Tennessee is still skinny, but benefited slightly from some light rain that bumped up the CFS by a whopping 20 feet.  But, 54 is better than 34, and I'm pleased to see it tick upward.

Fishing isn't that bad, for all the low water talk. Big fellas are spookier than usual, but trout from 7-10 inches are feeding pretty regularly on dries and nymphs.

Fishing with Smoky Mountain Troutfitters owner and head guide Sean McKay was interesting. We decided to hike into a relatively unknown stream, all of our research (reading a thirty-year-old trail book, bravado provided by Guinness) suggested that this hike was "easy" on the scale from easy - to - strenuous. Mistake number one was believing anything written about the Smoky Mountains, number two was, as usual, extremely low water. The trail was easy for sure, if you're one of the few that can take the Alum Cave to Le Conte in three hours. For a fat guy, hauling up and down one mountain, only to see another peak ahead, was a bit shocking. Of course when we finally found our prize, it was perilously empty. We hiked out and landed at Tremont, fishing below the institute. Fishing was fine, but jello legs weren't. On the way out we noticed a bruiser, a stocked fish for sure, pushing the 25inch mark. We weren't even willing to climb down to chase... that's how tired we were.

Yesterday evening, I jumped Newfound Gap to visit with John Dollar and his son Aaron. We shared some stories into the night with some particularly vivid imagery thrown in like only Mr. Dollar can. Great folks, good times. John said they saw some fish but it was slow. It has been, but it will pick up and I can't wait to get over to WNC for a weekend at Wilson or the Davidson. Wish I could've stayed the night -- especially after nearly running into coyotes all over 441 on the way home at midnight.

Hope you like the links, I just figured that out and thought I'd abuse it. Stay wet, folks, and tight lines!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Low water, fun times, and litterbugs

Wow, we've got some skinny water. And while it poses its problems, it's also opportunity time. Sure, there are still plenty of fish to be had, but if you find yourself spooking more fish than you're catching, take time to survey your surroundings.

During periods of low water -- especially during the dangerously low levels we're experiencing --  it's a perfect time to scout. You can easily negotiate waters that may be impassable when the water is at normal-to-high flow. You can spot holds, crevasses, slots, and boulders that are perfect trophy fish hiding spots, make that mental note, and test your knowledge later. I've been doing just that for the past few years, and it's paid off. I have a notebook full of tidbits that chronicle my scouting. Now if I can only find it... Good thing I remember most. I think.

Yesterday, dad and I hit the water. Dad taught me a lot about being outdoors, but now I'm teaching him about fly fishing and it's been fun. He's a micro-light, rooster tail kinda guy. And he's caught some nice browns in the Smokies that way.

 Today, I decided to tackle Little River along Little River Road below Metcalf Bottoms. Some nice fishing if your patient enough to stay low, control drag, and stay out of the water (especially in low water).

 On the way to the Smokies.

Had it all to my little lonesome self. Nice fishing today, too. Above average 'bows, but didn't manage a brown today.

It doesn't pay to litter. Who would do it anyway? Morons.

Have a great week, folks. If you want to join us on one of our wacky adventures (yeah, I said it), contact Sean McKay at Smoky Mountain Troutfitters (www.smokymountaintroutfitters.com or 865-567-2441). Get out, get wet, and stay cool.

Keep it rural,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fishing has been great this past week. I've heard reports from Little River and Little Pigeon sheds to the South Holston, and all are promising. With dry fly action being off that proverbial wall, I ask you, what's your favorite type of fishing? If it's fly fishing, do you prefer dry flies or nymphs? If you're a spin fisherman, do you like slow moving jigs, or cranks? Here's my two cents (and in this economy, that's a lot).

Fly fishing: I spend 99% of my rec time with a fly rod in hand. When I began, it was all about the dry fly. The main reason was, it's easy. I was young and it was what I'd always seen pictures of, fish taking big dries on the surface. But then something happened, I put on a nymph. A big, ugly helgramite. And guess what? SLAM. A trophy brown in the Smoky Mountains. Yeah, it was luck... then. But now it's how I hunt the big boys. That doesn't mean I don't dry. Some of the nicest browns I've caught have been off dries. In fact, I guarantee I fish dries more than anything else, unless I'm after smallmouth. So, I guess my fly swings both ways, if you catch my drift. 

Spin rod in hand, which isn't often, I set in with jigs. It's always exciting to feel that first hard knock on a slow retrieve. And my go-to is a crawfish pattern, brown mustard or chartreuse. Crank baits, well, they have their time. But it's too fast for me.

Hope y'all have a great week, and stay wet!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Benign State of Fall (Pin It Down)

Fall is not my favorite time to fish. It pales in comparison to early spring and winter, but yet it has its charm, the biggest being "it's not summer."

But when does it turn on, so to speak. In Autumn on Western streams, the fish will feed voraciously preparing for spawn or winter (or both). In the Southeast, it can be a bit trickier to pin down. Cold weather doesn't set in until late November, although it's not too unusual to see snow by late October. This gives us a month, sometimes longer, after the spawn before trout metabolism drops off the radar. And this is the time to really pound the banks with meaty flies like buggers, mudlers, and slumpbusters. Given that winter in the Southeast has its own timetable, prime fishing dates are TBD. This is where the specific science of Appalachian fishing comes into play -- fingers to the wind, color of leafs of poplars, and how many cows are left standing in the pasture. Hey, it works. For the fortunate few, these fleeting days can present amazing fishing. So, why don't I like it as much as spring or winter ...? It just doesn't last long enough. So, if you can pin down the benign state of fall, hit the streams. It may be the week of your life -- or the best three hours you've ever seen.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The weather is here...

No fishing this weekend! Instead, I enjoyed some Tennessee football (probably the only exciting game as the schedule doesn't look great), food, and being lazy. Many will be headed to Knoxville and the Tennessee River's banks for Boomsday, the country's largest Labor Day fireworks show. Me? Nah, I'll sit here and enjoy the laziness.

Have a great holiday, y'all! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A [Fly] Fishing Manifesto

What is it about a man that makes him perceive nature in such a way that he, and he alone, is its sole solicitor, defender and protector? The passion some have for God is as stridently evoked in our fly fishing community -- in our rivers, and on our streams. They, in the vain of proselytizing zealots, create an aura of impenetrable righteousness and foaming hatred toward change. The only difference between the self-righteous fly fisherman and the Holy See is that the former does not wish conversion. Instead they worship at an exclusive altar built by like-minds and egos. Constant is his droning, resisting change and advancements, all while believing himself to be progressive, a healer of his country's (if not world's) backward ways.

And why you'll forgive me ....

It certainly seems like everyone wants to "be the best", the most knowledgeable, or possess some arcane talent that befuddles the average angler. I think there's a severe case of hypertension in fly fishing and our sport is slowly dying. All the "don't dos" and "have to dos" come from the armchair moralists who, while not baffling us with such spectacular feats (dare I jest?), are home watching reality TV, whether they enjoy it or not. I suggest they fish their way and not obsess upon recreating decades passed. If you want to live with one foot in the past and one in the future (a future which further strips away my rights), then by all means do. But I'll be damned if you change me, no matter how much you write in your blog, stamp across your website, or write in some magazine... Keep looking down your nose, you'll find me, smiling and having a good time.

So, what will I do?

I will continue to enjoy my sport each day, regardless of industry changes. I will not complain about "yuppies." I will ignore the online and on-stream communities that bemoan and belittle other anglers. I will not participate in photo contests or make hero videos. I will simply fish. And the rest of the slovenly progressive fishing bastards can get as angry or indignant as they like.