Saturday, June 25, 2011

Father's Day Weekend SoHo Camping Trip

I recently got back from a 3-day trip to the SoHo June 16th thru 18th. This was a regular trip for us, however since Trey was born we haven't made this trip in 3 yrs. I was very surprised to see the number of anglers out there beginning on Thursday, and increasing each following day. Water was a bit higher than normal, but still very wadable. This was due to TVA sluicing a continuous 280 CFS from the dam while they are performing maintenance.

Upon arrival, there was only one other tent setup and two other gentlemen sitting there. I talked to the older gentleman who has fished the river for two weeks consecutively for each of the past three months, and he said that the past two days have been the best sulfur hatch of the year. I quickly geared up and hit the water around 2:30, deciding that the tent could wait until after it had cooled down some. About 3:00 the hatch began, and I picked up a couple fish on sulfur nymphs tied klinkhammer style and sulfur duns. I couldn't get into consistent action and was frustrated a couple times when I saw some big heads sucking down dozens of bugs. After a couple hours I headed back to camp to begin setting up the tent. About this time Scott showed up and helped set things up and run over to the fly shop. When we returned from the shop Dave was sitting at the campsite trying to figure out if it was the right spot. Shortly afterward our camp neighbors returned from their afternoon jaunt. I couldn't see them where they were fishing, but I was told that the older man Darrell probably caught 70 fish to the younger's 15. He showed me his fly, and it definitely had been abused.

As evening was approaching, Darrell recommended that I swing a wet fly in the riffles and seams downstream of camp. So, I did as he said and was rewarded with probably a dozen fish in 1.5 hours of fishing. Light was getting low, so I headed back to camp to help Dave cook up some deer steaks and corn on the cob. That is always a tasty meal when on these camping trips. It was a beautiful full moon night, and perfect weather for camping.

The next morning Darrell recommended that I try swinging tiny softhackles, size 24, in the seams for early morning trout. I didn't have any that small, but had some #20 BWO softhackles that the fish were very willing to eat. I fished for probably two hours and landed another dozen fish. Most were probably 8 to 12", but I did manage one brown around 13". Called it quits about 10:00 and came back to camp for a little midmorning snack. After the snack, I tried my luck out on the slackwater area, and was abused by those super selective trout. Did manage a couple more on some sulfur emergers that I swung in the seams. It was very hit-or-miss for most people on the water. I saw and talked to plenty of people who were skunked.

I took a break and came back for lunch and sat down to tie up some comparaduns for the afternoon sulfur hatch. From 3:00 on is when the magic began. However, it only was magical if you had the exact fly imitation. Thankfully, I got into them taking a #18 medium yellow sulfur w/ bleached deer hair sparkle dun pattern. I tried two other shades of sulfur, and both bleach and natural hair wings before finding the one that worked. So, I spent an hour trying to find the right fly, but once I found it the fish were taking it so hard that I had three swallow the fly. One brown actually jumped out of the water and ate the fly as he was entering the water. I fished that fly in two runs for the last hour of the day. I was probably on a 20 trout/hr pace with the fly I mentioned above.

Saturday morning was nuts! People were walking in on top of each other, and I just chose to pack up and come on back home. That is not my cup of tea. I even saw quite a few bait slingers today out there keeping anything with size to it. However, I think the sulfur hatch up there is just now getting ramped up. Be advised though to take a wide variety of sulfur patterns in different shades of yellow, orange, or some combination. Those trout can be some the most finicky I have ever fished for. If you go good luck, and happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

SULFURS! They are back!

The time that so many fly fishermen in East TN wait for every year is finally upon us. The mayfly commonly referred to as the sulfur is hatching on East TN waters. From the freestone mountain streams, to the Clinch and South Holston rivers. See my previous post on the various species of sulfurs that are found in our area Understanding Sulfurs.

I have been lucky enough to make it out a couple times lately to the Clinch. Both trips have been early morning trips that began around 7:00 and end around 11:00. Action both times was consistent, with things really beginning to pick up around 9:30. Although activity was at a decent level, the surface activity was minimal. Most fish have been caught using either a flashback pheasant tail or a standard pheasant tail. Some fish were looking up though, as I did manage to get a couple using my sulfur hackle stacker cripple pattern.

If I were to rate this years hatch on a scale from 1 to 10, I would probably give it a 7. In comparison, last year was probably a 9 and two years ago was a 6. I expect to get out on the water a couple more times in the coming week, along with a two night camping trip on the South Holston. So, keep checking back for an update on those trips.

Below are some pics from the past couple trips.
Early Morning on the Clinch

Battle Scars...

19" Clinch River Brown