Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spawning Time on the Clinch

I have had the itch to get out to the Clinch again and reconnect with a river that has been very good to me this year. I have been on the Clinch easily 25 or 30 days this year, and have yet to get skunked (most have been multiple fish trips). So, I got up Saturday morning and made it to the river at 10:00, and was surprised to find the lack of people on the river. Finally, maybe with hunting season being here the pressure will slack off. I had about 3 hours to fish before I had to be back home to help Amy with Trey, so I tried to make the most of my time on the water. I immediately walked way downstream to a very productive run I found on my previous trip, and immediately hooked up with a couple small bows. That was a little surprising since I usually catch very good quality fish out of this little run. I worked my way downstream picking up fish here and there on a #20 brassie. As time was drawing near for the pulse to be coming through, I made my way back up to the run I mentioned earlier. Not long into the pulse, I noticed a large pod of fish swirling just upstream. As I approached, I was very excited to see a school of browns in pre-spawn mode. There was no redd, but a group of very active male browns apparently hunting a hen brown. As I drifted my fly toward the rear of the pack I had a large fish inhale my fly. 15 minutes later I was looking at a 22" brown. However, I was unable to take a picture since my net was too small to hold the fish and its head and tail were both hanging out of the bag. While trying to take the fly out, it flopped one good time and out it went into the current and drifted downstream. Due to this, I am looking for another net. I ended up catching this little brown before having to call it quits.
Small Brown in Spawning Color

Sunday, I got my buddy Scott to come along with me and we got into them once again. The brassie was still producing for me, and the first fish of the day was a 17" bow that put up an amazing aerial display.
First Fish on Sunday

Later, we checked out the pod of fish we found the day before, and over night they had fanned out a bed. There was a big hen sitting in the middle of it, and there were lots of fish downstream of the nest. I drifted the brassie downstream of the nest and into the awaiting pod of smaller fish and hooked into another good brown. This one did not fight nearly as much as the fish the previous day, but luckily Scott was there with his net to help me land it. He was only 16", but very chunky and in full spawning colors. Ended the day with decent numbers once again.
16" Clinch Brown

We did find a couple of other abandoned redds in the area, so apparently the spawn has been going on for a couple weeks now. Hopefully this year there will be a success. I had heard reports that last year there was a successful spawn, and the brookies should also be ramping up for their first attempt in the Clinch. I am looking forward to my next chance to head back up that way, but it may be a couple weeks before I get another chance. By then it should be full on midge and BWO season, so I better start preparing my fly box now.

Small Brookie

Scott Re-Tying

Saturday Conditions:
Weather - Cloudy, upper 50's
Water Temp - 53 degrees
Productive Flies - #20 brassie
Sunday Conditions:
Weather - Sunny, breezy, upper 60's
Water Temp - 54 degrees
Productive Flies - #20 brassie

Tight Lines and God Bless

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Is Here

Amy, Trey, and I went to Townsend on Sunday to take in the beautiful day and do some leaf gazing. The weather didn't disappoint, but the leaves still haven't turned as much as I had expected. Amy's family also came along, and it was a very enjoyable day for all. The trees are still another week or so away from popping, so maybe I will fight the crowds again for some good photo ops. Anyway, below are just a few pics from the day, hope you enjoy.

Fence In Cades Cove

Old Barn

Blue Sky Day

My Lovely Wife

Amy, Trey, and Old Wagon

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Upper East Tennessee Weekend

This past weekend Scott, Jacob, and I headed up to the Tri-Cities for some fishing on the South Holston and Watauga. It had been over a year since I last fished the Watauga and about 5 months since I was last on the South Holston.

Day 1 - Thursday Oct 9th
Plan: Float from Blevins Rd access to Watauga starting at 9:00 AM.

Report: We got a late start to the day, and didn't leave K-town until around 8:15. Upon our arrival at the Blevins Rd launch area, we were surprised to see extremely high water. A quick call to the TVA lake info line, and they were still reporting no generation at that time. While standing there a local gentleman came by and informed us that they were sluicing over the top of the dam and that the schedule is very erratic. Due to this we chose to head on over to the SoHo and set up camp.

Setting up Camp

Playing With Fire

When we arrived at the river, I was chomping at the bit to get out there and fish, but we needed to take care of camp first. Weather we very comfortable and there was lots of cloud cover helping to bring the fish to the surface. I was quite surprised to find a good number of sulfurs fluttering around. I tried to match the hatch, but I was either doing something wrong or just didn't have the correct size fly on. So, I went with another very reliable pattern, the stripper midge. This was the ticket, and the browns were crushing it. I would look for rising trout and cast to them and I had a lot of success using this approach.

12" SoHo Brown

Day 2 - Friday October 10th

SoHo 180 degree Panorama (Click for larger image)

I got up around 7:45 and was once again very anxious to get to the fish. I hurriedly got into my waders and took my old faithful rig from the previous day out to see if I could pick up where I left off the day before. I did. From 8 til 11, I easily caught 2 dozen trout by using this same technique. I found that using 7x tippet greatly increased my strikes, but it also caused me to break off a couple of decent fish. Because of this I had to set down and tie up some more midges quickly during lunch.

After lunch Scott and Jacob wanted to retry our failed Watauga float trip. We launched the canoe and pontoon and headed down stream for the old River Ridge campground. During my last trip to this area, the rainbows and brookies were absolutely killing blood midges. We fished this area without any success, and because of our very limited schedule we had to press on for other water before we ran out of daylight. Eventually Jacob and I caught up with Scott downstream at another run and he had gotten into a decent little sulfur hatch and the trout were willing to eat a #18 sulfur thorax. This was a very nice section of water that would definitely warrant a future visit. It was getting dark as we approached the take out, and we found ourselves securing the canoe to the roof in the dark. Once we returned back at camp we anxiously awaited our deer tenderloin and baked potato dinner. It had been a long day, we were hungry and tired. Almost nothing tastes better than a good steak dinner when on a camping trip.

Campfire Deer Steaks

Day 3 - Saturday October 11th

I got up at 7:45, and started to the river. However, after finding the river mainly empty the first two days, I was disappointed to find fisherman everywhere. The runs that I had been slaying fish on the first two days, now had people crawling all over them. Nevertheless, this caused me to fish unfamiliar water, and it didn't disappoint. I only fished until around 10:00, but once again the stripper midge proved the best choice. At 10:00 I came back to camp to start breaking down and get prepared for lunch. Today's lunch consisted of deer burgers, and they were also very tasty. After lunch, we began the drive back home, but I was looking forward to seeing Trey for the first time in three days.

Brown Reflection

The South Holston really should start seeing the pressure in another month as the big browns start making their run upstream. I would like to make my way over there sometime in December and get into a couple large pre-spawn browns. It was nice to be out under the stars once again and spending time with good friends while fishing.

Deer Burgers

God Bless and Tight Lines

19" Clinch River Brown