Saturday, September 20, 2014

Clinch River Update 9.20.2014

For the past few months I have heard many reports about how much of a negative impact the stripers are having on the trout population on the Clinch.  I thought it seemed logical because the last three or four trips I have made to the Clinch resulted in low trout/hr catch rates.  However, deer season opens next weekend, so if I didn't make it out this week it could be a while before I return.

I got a late start to the morning after sleeping in, but was surprised to find the river virtually empty when I arrived at 9:30.  I took my time getting ready, and worked my way downstream to one of my favorite runs.  I saw some little brown caddis hatching, and it wasn't long before I was into fish.  In fact, the fish were so active I landed 6 rainbows in my first 20 minutes (almost 20 casts as well).  The first one was a little 7" dink, but the next 5 were in the 11 - 12" range.

First little guy
12" bow

Then, things suddenly stopped.  All I could attribute it to was the fact that the fog had completely burned off, and now the sunlight was bright on the water.  Thankfully, after about 30 minutes the trout adjusted and were back at again.  Unfortunately, apparently everybody decided to float the Clinch today, and for the next 30 minutes I was dodging canoes and kayaks.  I would hook a fish, then a kayak would float through and shut everything down for a few minutes.

I had 4 boats, FOUR OF THEM, float right through the run I was fishing in.  Please note that this run was only about 10 yards wide by 15 yards wide, whereas the river is probably 75+ yards wide at this location...  Only one of the four boats apologized for drifting through on me, and he actually told me to just get ready as there were about 20 other boats behind him coming around the bend.  I managed to hook another couple of fish before I was interrupted again, and chose to call it a day.  As I was getting out of the water, I saw the first of a couple of drift boats coming around the corner.  However, the sulfurs were just starting to hatch, and the fish were very active.  You read that right, sulfurs on the Clinch in September!  Craziness!!!

My take-away from today's trip is that apparently the stripers have not damaged the trout population as severely as I had been lead to believe, as my hourly average was 5 fish/hr (10 trout in 2 hours)...  I will take those numbers any time of the year, and actually those are the highest Clinch catch rates I have had since 2010 when I had some 30+ fish days.  No big trout landed today, but I did see some large buttery brown heads poking out every now and again.  Thankfully, I only missed two strikes (that I saw) all morning, and only had one long distance release.  I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to get out today and have so much success, especially considering I had not wet a line since June.

Flies of the Day: #18 BHPT and #20 olive zebra midge.
Catch Rate: 5 fish/hr
Gear used:  Orvis Zero Gravity 8'-6" 5-wt, Orvis Mid-Arbor reel, Rio Grand fly line, SeaGuar FX 7X tippet

19" Clinch River Brown