Belated Fishing Report From Before Snow Storm

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I’ve got a fishing report from late last week, but conditions have changed substantially in the Smoky Mountains since that time so I’m not sure just how valid it will be. We’ve been struggling with a round of the cold virus here at R&R Fly Fishing on top of finishing up holiday shopping and getting together with visiting relatives.

Fly fishing with nymphs has remained surprisingly good in the mountain streams

Fly fishing with nymphs has remained surprisingly good in the mountain streams

Late last week I headed for the river because it was going to be the last decent day before the weather made a big change. It was a sunny day and temperatures on Little River in the park were in the mid 40’s. Water temperature was a shade lower at 42 but fish remained somewhat active.

Notice the nymph on the trout's jaw is pretty raggedy

Notice the nymph on the trout's jaw is pretty raggedy

Out of sheer laziness my good instincts not to mess with a good thing, I’ve been fishing the exact same rig for about four fishing trips now. I haven’t so much as re-tied a fly or replaced tippet; just fished the exact same rig. It’s been a productive dropper rig with a Z-lon Nymph tied high and a Pat’s Nymph on bottom.

When water temperatures have been above 45 degrees the fish have taken both flies almost equally, but on the colder days they have had a profound bias for the bottom fly.

This isn’t unusual. Fish are more sluggish in colder temperatures and less likely to move very far. My Pat’s Nymph began to show some wear, but the fish continued to eat it up.

The Brett Favre of trout flies; It keeps producing when most would have retired.

The Brett Favre of trout flies; It keeps producing when most would have retired.

If it makes anyone out there feel better, I’ve clipped both flies off and will have to replace the entire leader next time I go fishing.

Forecast for the Smokies

We had a good bit of snow in the Smokies this weekend with more than 20″ along the crest of the Smokies. Temperatures will be mild this week, but melting snow will likely keep water temperatures frigid. Good rain chances around Christmas day may push water levels up, but they should recover quickly.

Tailwaters

The tailwater situation just doesn’t seem to get any better. Norris, Wilbur, and South Holston dams are all sluicing water on top of generating as much water as possible. Cherokee Dam is showing some breaks in generation, but all of that water from the Watauga and South Holston has to pass through that dam as well.

We’re usually back to fishing on the tailwaters by this time every year and often times recommend it over the mountain streams because of better water temperatures. Looks like it will be a long winter for tailwater fly fishers.

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Comments

  1. Merry Christmas, Ian, to you and your whole family.

  2. Collin, those should do pretty good. You can fish them on a dead drift under a strike indicator, fish them without an indicator by casting them across current and letting them swing, or by stripping them like a streamer. Good luck!

  3. Collin Hays says:

    Ian, last time I was in TN, I had some success in some deep holes with some #8-ish brown or black wooly buggers.

    Would these do me any good during the winter months would you think? (making a trip out right after Xmas).

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Collin

  4. Thanks for the update Ian.