Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rainy Smokies Friday

Yesterday, my buddy Scott and I had planned on hitting up a local tailwater. Ordinarily a little rain does not slow us down, but yesterday neither of us were up to six hours straight of potentially significant rainfall. Especially since it would require a float, and it would be an extended day. So, we chose to run up to Little River Outfitters for some supplies, but took my rod along just in case. Scott neeeded some new Wonderline and I wanted to try out the Fishpond packs. I ended up buying the Fishpond Dragonfly, just because of the volume it could hold along with two water bottle holders. Once I take it on a trip, I will post a review.

Afterward, we drove up to Cades Cove heading to Abrams Creek or possibly Parsons Branch. We ended up not even getting the rod out, but I thought I would report back on what the water looked like. I haven't seen the Smokies streams looking this good in probably 4 years. The water temps should be very good since we had a couple days of 55+ degree rainfall. While at Parson's Branch we did notice quite a bit of bug activity. Tons of midges were hatching, some blue quills and an olive/brown caddis. I haven't heard many people mention the caddis, so that was a little surprising to me.

I need to get back up there in another week or so and give it a try. The smallie water through Walland looked phenomenal, and very tempting as well. As we were leaving, we saw three flyfisherman on the west prong right around the tunnel.

The weather is really getting nice right now in East TN, and I am anxious for my first camping trip of the year. I am debating on where to go and take Trey on his first trip. I would like to go to the South Holston, but I don't know if my wife is up to that just yet.

Until next time....

Tight Lines and God Bless

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Lens Update

Well, apparently I have the worst luck when it comes to lenses. After returning the Quantaray lens and ordering a Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, I have found out that the company I ordered it from did not actually have the lens in stock even though they told me they did. The bad news is that this is a discontinued lens from Sigma, so there is no guarantee that the lens will ever come in. I am in the process of arguing for a refund, and looking for another lens. The 50-150mm was perfect for what I needed, so now I am back to square one. If anybody has any suggestions, please feel free to offer them.

I am looking for a fast lens - constant f/2.8
Reasonable price - <$500
Good build quality
Adequate reach - 150mm +
Ultra low dispersion glass
Built in focus motor

Until next time....Tight lines and God bless.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Poll: Troutfest Flies

With Troutfest about 7 weeks away, I am trying to get an idea of what people would like to see me tie. I plan on tying mostly tailwater flies since that is where most of my experience is. However, I do have experience with smokies flies such as the neversink caddis, tellico nymph, Adams, and blue quills. I would like to focus my efforts on 4 or 5 flies during the course of the day, unless I get a special request from a visitor. Please vote, and you can vote for more than one fly. If you have another request, please feel free to leave a comment as such.

Tight Lines and God Bless.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nance's Ferry Midges

Due to the crazy generation schedule on the Clinch, I chose to hit up the Holston at Nance's Ferry. I got to the river around 1:30 to a flurry of surface activity. I didn't even rig up until I waded out into the river and studied the water for about 10 minutes. The fish appeared to be taking midges, so I went with my trusty brassie/zebra midge combo. I hooked into a fish shortly afterward, and they proved to be very cooperative for the next 3 hours. There were 4 other fishermen on the water, but they were all focusing on swift water and riffles. I took a different approach and went to the relatively smooth water that midges are present in. Once again, I don't know why some people continue to get into a pattern of going to the same type of water regardless of time of year or condition. The water these gents were fishing is prime caddis water in the late spring and summer, but this time of year midges are the primary hatch.

It was a relaxing day on the water. I didn't rush my casts, or try to pressure the fish. A couple times I just walked to shore and took a break to warm up my legs, and watch the others fish. I noticed one guy below me land a couple decent size fish using a streamer. However, other than that the guys in the riffles were not having much luck. Oh well, each to his own I guess. Later on, I walked farther upstream to a deep slow pool and fished a #18 BHPT/#20 stripper about 5' deep. I was surprised at the number of fish I got on this rig, especially since the Holston is not considered to be a mayfly tailwater.

Best fish of the day were a pair of 15" bows that put a deep bend in the 5 wt ZG and 6x tippet.

Trip Summary:
Water Temp: Low 40's
Weather: Sunny, Breezy, upper 50's
Best Flies: #18 BHPT, #20 stripper
# of fish landed: 6 (probably twice as many long distance released due to a bent hook)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Crazy PETA Whack Jobs

How many of you out there have heard about what the PETA whack jobs are up to now? They have always been out there, but now they are targeting our children. Their latest campaign is to personify fish and change their identity from "fish" to "sea-kittens". Their angle is to ask children if they would like to see somebody take their pet and put a hook through them, abuse them, and then thrown them out to die. I am not making this up, here is the website:

PETA SeaKittens

I read about this first in the latest edition of FlyFisherman Magazine, but have been hearing that they are changing their focus to the younger generation for the past couple months. Now most people I know realize that these people are off their rocker, but if they start trying to spread this message in our schools that would not be good. I know we cannot prevent them from taking this position or trying to spread it, but I believe it is imperative that we all join TU or some similar fishing organization to help fight for our right to fish.

Beautiful Weather

Yesterday Amy, Trey, and I went to Melton Hill dam for the day. We didn't get there until around 1:30, which was just about perfect. The temps were in the 70's and there was a slight breeze blowing. I only spent about 30 minutes fishing, but didn't land anything. I fished in the tailwater for about 20 minutes and in the lake for about 10. I didn't even break out the fly rod, I just used my spinning rod. The day was not about the fishing, but just spending time with Amy and Trey on a beautiful day. I did manage to snap this picture of Trey on his first fishing trip. Well, I guess it doesn't really count, but it was too tempting of a photo op.

Water temps are still a bit low right now for the stripers and white bass. Surprisingly there were not very many fishermen out considering the nice weather. So I guess that is also a sign that it hasn't started heating up yet. However, after this week and a couple days of 60 degree rainfall, things should start to change quickly. As soon as it does, I will be sure to update everybody. This Friday I plan on going to the Clinch, well assuming TVA has a favorable schedule....

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Lens Review

I recently purchased a 70-300mm lens for my D40. I went with an off brand since the sticker shock of the Nikkor 70-300 was too much for me to justify. I purchased the lens from the local Wolf Camera, and they allowed me 10 days to try it out and return it for a full refund, no questions asked. That is pretty hard to beat. I mainly wanted to test out the long distance zoom capability, and see if I would really miss the VR of the Nikkor lens. Also, I was curious as to how the build quality would feel in comparison to some other Nikkor lenses. This lens also has a macro function, but I haven't gotten around to testing it yet. Below are some sample pics:

200mm @ f/9 @ 1/125 @ ISO200

300mm @ f/9 @ 1/160 @ ISO200

300mm @ f/10 @ 1/60 @ ISO250

Overall impression is that you get what you pay for. The image quality is good enough to stand up against the Nikkor lens. What it is lacking is build quality, fast focus, and consistent focus. One positive is that this lens is smaller and weighs less than the comparable Nikkor, but this could also be due to the lesser build quality.

My suggestion is that if you are looking for a reasonably priced telephoto zoom lens that is used 99% of the time outdoors, focus speed is not a priority, and you routinely take very good care of your gear then this lens is probably good for you. I still have not made up my mind about it yet. I am going to take it out again tomorrow and give it a try in the direct sunlight. The biggest area of concern for me is the way the focus seemed to hunt a lot in the low lighting in the dark valleys of the Smokies today. If it still has this trouble in the bright daylight, then I will probably be returning it on Sunday.

I do recommend that if anybody is interested in buying this lens or one similar to go to a local camera store and test one yourself. Some of these off brand lens companies save money on QA/QC practices, and lemons are common.


Today I returned this lens. I found the inconsistent focus and unsure build quality to be too much for me to risk. I tried to order a Nkon 70-300mm, but the vendor I was using was very inconsistent with their pricing. I ordered a Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 that I am very excited about. When it arrives, I will post a review for it on here as well. Unfortunately it appears that the old saying, "You get what you pay for" not only holds true for rods but for lenses as well.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Warm Weather a Comin'

Just saw the 6 day forecast and temps are supposed to be in the 60's and 70's everyday. On top of that, we are also forecast to have more rain 3 of those days. A good inch or so of 60 degree rainfall should do wonders for the hatches in the Smokies. That would probably be all that is needed to set them into full swing. I am talking about the Quill Gordons and Blue Quills. I may get some time to head up there this year for that hatch.

Also, it is getting closer to time for the white bass to start making their run up the rivers. That means it is time to tie up some big clousers and buggers in any color similar to white in preparation. So, that is what I have been working on the past week or so. Also, I am working on patterns for my Edisto Island redfish trip in April.

It looks like I will be getting out somewhere this Saturday. I am hoping to also take along my new 70-300mm lens and see how it performs. Spring is East Tennessee is unbeatable, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. So many species and a plethora of streams and lakes to choose from. How could it get any better?

19" Clinch River Brown