Changes in the Weather

Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone and the guide season left with it. It’s snowing pretty hard right now in Townsend, but nothing’s sticking. Regardless it’s a strong reminder that the guide season is essentially over.

It’s always the same every fall. September is a period of relatively light guiding as the kids are back in school, football starts up, summer’s heat hasn’t quite dissipated and fall color is still about a month away. That’s why we go to Yellowstone country in September. The weather’s still nice and we’re not missing much while we’re gone.

We come back to one of the busiest guide months of the year in Tennessee; October with colorful fall foliage, cool mornings, and trout rising to olives in the Smokies. It’s a great month to be on the water but we’re all worn out by the end of the month. This year I had a four day camping trip on Hazel Creek sandwiched on both sides by float trips on the Clinch River. October wears us out but we’re always ready to hit the water because the fishing is so good.

November is always different from one year to the next. Sometimes the fall color arrives a bit late and it’s a colorful month. Other years (like this one) winter arrives early and it’s cold. Regardless of the weather, anglers are eager to get one last trip in while the weather is still reasonably good.

Thanksgiving week is always a busy one and we’ve gotten into the habit of staying home for the holiday since we always seem to have trips the days before and after. This year was no different.

All the guides we regularly see on Little River were out as well. Saturday was a tough day in spite of mild weather conditions. It was the first morning in some time that was free of frost and temperatures were in the high 50’s. We all expected it to be a great day for fly fishing in the Smokies. Well… It was a good day for fishing, but not so hot for catching. That was the general consensus among all the guides. Fishing nymphs deep only yielded a modest number of strikes and there wasn’t much reason to fish a dry fly unless you just liked to watch it drift. I’m guessing that melting snow from the higher elevations knocked water temps down enough to put the fish off. The guage near the Townsend Y showed water in the high 40’s, but it was much cooler around Elkmont.

Smoky Mountain brown trout, Little River

Nice way to round out the season!

Charity seemed to have to single bright spot from Saturday. One of her anglers caught a beautiful brown that taped out at 14″.  Whenever asked what the fish ate Charity will sigh, “Prince Nymph…” like you should know all good autumn fish caught in the Smokies eat nothing else.

The tailwaters have been really fishing quite well. In fact, I’ve been quite impressed with the Holston lately. Good hatches of midges along with a smattering of olives and caddis have kept fish looking up. The Clinch is still fishing good, but maybe not quite as good as it was a month ago. We’re thrilled to see the Clinch coming back around. The past few years were tough so it’s nice to see our old friend fishing good again.

We’ve got plenty of things to keep us busy. We’re rounding out a couple of new books we’ve been working on. One is a guide to the previously closed brook trout streams in the Smokies. Think of it as an addition to Angler’s Companion since those streams were closed to fishing when that book came out. The second book covers fly fishing with streamers. This is one of our favorite ways to fish and we’re aware that the methods for fishing with streamers are poorly understood.

We plan on doing some fishing for ourselves plus we’ll do some more guided trips as well. The park should have some good fishing in the afternoons as the winter progresses. The Tuckaseegee, Clinch, and Holston Rivers always fish pretty good in the winter and we even float them through the winter.

Stay warm and fish when you can!