Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 12/13/14
Nice weather is ahead for today and tomorrow. It is a good time to be fishing the
park. You shouldn't have many non-fishing tourist to deal with, or other anglers for
Clinch River, Tennessee, part 3:
I will finally get a chance to finish what I wanted to write about fly fishing the Clinch
River, which was to be about presentation. Three or four days ago, I wrote the
Of course, that applies to any stream or lake, anywhere and anytime. I mentioned it
about the Clinch because it has some very unusual flows. The same type of flows
occur in a few other tailwaters, but not many. The shoals, or lines of rock
outcroppings that run almost perpendicular to the current across the river can create
some very strange currents. Fly anglers call them "conflicting" currents because
often, the water tends to flow in different directions between you and your fly. The
currents will grab you fly line and leader, and if your fishing a dry fly, the next thing
you know, your fly will look like its is a tiny, model ski boat. If you're fishing with a
nymph or larva imitation, your fly may pass by trout at three times the speed of the
current. That spooks trout more than it serves to attract them.
It seems you could get familiar with these strange currents and you probably could,
provided you fished the river all day, everyday for the rest of your life. The currents
change with every change in discharge rates from the dam. It changes with the
different water levels. This means there is no way I can sit here and describe how to
make a drag-free presentation for all of the different possible current situations.
High-sticking a nymph would seem to be a great method of presentation because you
could keep most of the fly line off of the water BUT, high- sticking a nymph in the
normally, ultra clear water of the Clinch would spook every trout within the range of
your cast. Normally, you have to make a reasonably long cast. Let me pause here to
mention that most anglers, knowing this, tend to try to make too long of a cast. In
many cases, that can make line control almost impossible. Normally, making any
length cast means your casting across currents flowing in different directions. This
means in many, if not most presentation situations, you must mend (put some slack
in) your line.
You can mend a fly line after it lands on the water, or in the air before it lands on the
water. It is better to mend it during the cast while the fly line is in the air. The reason
is, anytime you pick line up off the water and reposition it, you are creating some
disturbance that's likely visible to trout. Mending the line in the air means making
reach, curve, pile, shock, wiggle and all types of "crooked or slack-line"
presentations. It means you need to almost always put some slack in your line during
the cast. Although this is true in many fly-fishing situations on most all trout streams,
it is almost always a necessity to catch trout from the Clinch.
As mentioned, it would take a thick book (and there are some that have been written)
to describe the many different cast and types of presentations that create slack in
the fly line. There are also up, up and across, down, and down and across types of
presentations. Since the current and water levels are almost always changing,
sometimes, even during the day, you need to know how to make them all. The down,
and down and across presentations are made by few anglers fishing the Clinch, but
can greatly increase your odds of success in many types of current situations. This
basic idea is to let the trout see the fly before it sees the fly line or leader, and a
downstream presentations can do that.
I should also mention these different presentations will vary greatly, depending on
whether your fishing from a boat or wading. Boat control has a lot to do with this
when your fishing from a drift or pontoon type boat.
I know that I have written a lot without telling you how to do anything. I'm only pointing
out that in order to be consistently successful catching the trout that's been stocked
for a while or the larger holdover trout, you need to know how to present a fly in
many different types of current situations, and often in ultra clear water. If it is also
shallow water your dealing with, the Clinch River can challenge anyone's ability to
make a good presentation.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, will be cloudy with a high near 53. Calm wind will change to the north around
5 mph. Saturday night's low will be around 28.
Sunday, will be cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 53.
Wind will be around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 198 cfs at 1.88 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 342 cfs at 1.60 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 68 cfs at 2.40 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but it was in good shape
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: They are
in good shape.
Current Recommended Streams: I would fish the lower elevation streams
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18/16
2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
3. Cream Midges: 20/22
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
Keep in mind, the strategies I am recommending is for the maximum odds
of catching numbers of fish. Many prefer or favor a dry fly and by all means there
isn't anything wrong with that. It's just a fact that if nothing is hatching at the time, it
reduces your odds of success. You can still probably hook some trout, just not as
many as if you fish subsurface. Of course, this is also based on using good
techniques and the right flies. Some guys don't know how to fish below the surface.
Until I spotted something hatching, assuming I was fishing a low to mid elevation
stream, I would fish a size 18 Blue-winged Olive nymph. Many of the species of
mayflies called Blue-winged Olives are bi-brooded, meaning they hatch twice a year.
They are swimming nymphs that dart around in short spurts and hide wherever they
can. They don't stay wedged up under the rocks like most of the other mayfly
nymphs, the majority of which are clingers.
If the water is below 43 degrees, I would switch to a Cream Midge larva and Cream
Midge Pupa tandem rig, with the larva the bottom fly and the pupa above it.
If you spot something hatching, it will most likely be Cream Midges or small
Blue-winged Olives. Switch to the adult Cream Midge, if it is midges hatching, or the
BWO Dun or emerger, if it is the BWOs.
Tips for Beginners:
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
Thank you for visiting our site. James Marsh, Pending CFO
(Chief Fishing Officer) Perfect Fly
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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