What a wonderful weekend for a camping/fishing trip. I have been wanting to take another trip to the South Holston for a long time now, and this weekend presented the perfect opportunity. I have access to some semi-private property on the river where the land owner will allow access and even some camping for a small fee. I try to keep this property somewhat of a secret, but this weekend I had more company there than ever before. Apparently the word is getting out about this access. This is 85% slick water, and is typically very difficult fishing unless you know what you are doing. We met 3 guys from Atlanta there who were also camping out, but they were not having much luck. They were using the correct flies, but I believe they were using slightly larger versions and too heavy of tippet. I found that 6x fluoro or 7x mono are a must in this water to maximize hookups. Using this small of tippet in such big fish water lends itself to frustrations, and I had my share this weekend. Twice I hooked into a very large fish to watch it bolt upstream and snap my line. Most of the fish we caught this weekend was in the 10 to 12 inch range, and most were very beautifully colored browns. The fish on this river fight harder than those on any other I have fished.
The fly of the day by far was a flashback beadhead pheasant tail in size 16. I fished this fly in tandem with a sulfur wulff for maximum floatation. The fish were hungry, and they absolutely loved the FBPT. Friday saw lots of sulfur hatching and rising browns all around, but I could not get them to take my offerings except for the nymph. Once the sun got low in the evening I managed to trick a few using a CDC sulfur comparadun. We fished until we could not see our flies any longer and called it a day. Normally, I don't look forward to the evening after fishing, but on this trip we brought along deer steaks and potatoes for dinner. It was a nice little treat instead of the traditional hot dogs.
We woke up Satuday morning to much of the same with the nymph still slaying the trout. Another guy who was fishing there near us did something that I could not believe and have never heard of before. While false casting he hooked a swallow that was flying near his dry fly. I don't know if he just snagged the bird, or if it actually tried eating the fly. The bird was released safely and finally flew off after a quick recovery.
One thing about these fish is that an absolutely perfect drift is necessary. You must know how to mend correctly, and quickly after your cast. Most of my takes came within the first few seconds of the fly hitting the water. I don't really know what that was about, but they were really keyed in on this nymph all weekend long.
Until after the baby is born I will be hitting the Clinch regularly. It is closer to home and I have heard positive reports from the new slot limit. People are reporting more and larger fish than in previous years, and I look forward to finding out for myself. This trip has me dreaming about my next venture to the South Holston, land of the sulfur hatch and beautiful, large browns.