If you read the fishing report last week, I mentioned struggling on the Holston in the thick of the shad kill. Now that the kill has tapered off, fish are more active and can be caught using a variety of different techniques. Allen got up there last Friday and found some nice rainbows willing to take small white wooly buggers drifted and twitched in the current.
Brett and I went Sunday to make sure he wasn’t just pulling our leg. We brought Robin Ryder along, and he threw streamers in the morning, bagging a few fish worth catching and moving a very large brown trout that followed a shad pattern in the riffles near Smoky Island. I sought revenge with the dry fly, and found a few nice fish eating black midges as they emerged on the surface. A well-placed #18 Palomino Midge was all it took to trick some shad-filled dry fly sippers. Brett also fooled a handful of fish on a small Parachute Adams. We get asked quite often how we rig these technical dry fly rigs with flies that are too tiny to see when drifting. Our go-to rig is a 9-12ft. 5x leader with about 1.5 ft. of 5x tippet to a #18 parachute. Then rig about 2-3ft. of 5x or 6x fluorocarbon tippet to a small midge emerger such as a Smoke Jumper or Palomino Midge. The larger parachute allows you to track where your smaller bug is, if you see a rise near it, chances are you just got an eat on the small fly. Change your tippet sizes according to how picky the fish are and get ready for a fun afternoon. Winter is actually a great time to dry fly fish here in East TN, we just focus on Midges rather than larger insects like Caddis and Sulphurs.
The Clinch has been its typical self as of late, with fishing being hot or cold depending on the day. If you catch it right, the fish are feeding actively on a variety of midges. Hatches have been prolific in the afternoon hours once things warm up a bit. If you catch it wrong, it is quite a different story, and finding fish willing to play the game has been difficult. If midges don’t seem to get it done on these difficult days, try experimenting with a variety of different nymph patterns or switch over to smaller streamers or buggers. With lots of fish acclimated towards the top of the water column during hatches, fish about 2ft. under a yarn indicator (shallower than we normally recommend) if you are unable to trick fish with surface patterns. We have struggled lately to get our picky Clinch fish to eat a dry fly, but you may find them more willing depending on the day. As always, fish downstream presentations with light fluorocarbon tippet. It looks like rain is in the forecast this weekend, and we have had some of our best days lately on soggy afternoons. If you are willing to dawn the rain gear for a few hours, it will likely pay off.
The waters of the GSMNP have warmed up to fishable temperatures, but recent precipitation has water levels high. Later in the work week these levels should draw down and provide a perfect fishing opportunity before the rainy weekend. We are on the cusp of some excellent dry fly fishing in the park. I have also gotten reports from Matt Dixon that dry fly fishing up in Tellico has been excellent recently, and there are plenty of large browns eager to eat on top. If you have time to venture up there it could be another good fishing option this week. Matt Dixon also concludes that cloudy rainy days have been the best times to be fishing Tellico recently. Hopefully you are sensing the theme here, so don’t let the rain this week get you down! As always, have fun out there and be mindful of those around you. If we can help you in any way, swing by the shop or give us a ring at 865-200-5271.