I’m a tad reluctant to say fishing has been excellent. We’re in the hottest part of summer and still in the dry grip of a drought that just won’t seem to break, even steering a tropical storm around us. However, I’ve got to say that everywhere we’ve been fishing this week has been pretty good!
I forgot to mention that I did a float for smallmouth bass on the Holston River last weekend. We picked up most of the smallies on poppers along with one rainbow trout. While the popper bite wasn’t as good as we’re use to, I tied some small streamers on for Mark Shannon and Bruce Bogartz. They actually picked up 5 rainbows on the streamers. The smallmouth fishing was a bit on the slow side, but the good news was that trout were active on a section of the river that’s not known for producing in August. Looks like the fish living close to the dam should be real healthy and we should see lots of big fish next spring.
Fishing in the Smokies has been nothing short of great, at least where we’ve been going. I’ll be the first to admit that some fly fishers could be experiencing tough conditions, but they’re probably not fishing the best water under the conditions. I pass fly fishers on the river everyday fishing water that I would never fish in August. The key is to be at an elevation that will maintain cool water temperatures. I often hear fly fishers talk about being concerned about “stressing” the fish. Trout in warm water just won’t bite very well, so I’m not worried about that. I go where the water is cold, catch more fish, and don’t worry about stressing them since they’re in good shape.
You don’t have to go very far to find cold water right now. Overnight temperatures in the park have ranged between 48-60 most nights. This morning there were trout rising all over the place around Elkmont on Little River. Tricos were hatching and there were selective to flies around #18-20. They wouldn’t look at a #14 Parachute Adams (one of my favorites) but were all over a Hi-Vis Blue Wing Olive Parachute. The Elkmont Ant has produced very well, as I’m sure most terrestrials will right now.
The North Carolina side of the park seems to have less water in the streams than the Tennessee side right now, but water temperature is the key. The best locations will be over 2500′ elevation, which is most of the North Carolina Smokies plus upper Little River, the forks of Middle Prong of Little River, and West Prong of the Little Pigeon. There’s also Porter’s Creek and Middle Prong Little Pigeon River in Tennessee.
The Clinch has wadeable schedules on Saturdays and Sunday right now. Fish from Miller’s Island to the dam early in the morning as the first generator comes on at 10:00 AM. That gives you until about 3-4 PM before it gets to Highway 61 in Clinton.