Fishing Improves with Warmer Weather


We’ve done all kinds of things since the last post. While we’ve done some fishing we also traveled up to Indianapolis to speak at a meeting of the Indianapolis Fly Casters. There was a large and enthusiastic turnout and I’m pretty sure we made a few former Tennesseans homesick for the trout fishing they left behind.

Fishing in the Smokies has improved dramatically, but it took a little longer than we initially expected. There was so much snow and ice in the mountains it took quite a while for the water to warm up. In fact, after two days of 50 degree weather there was still an appreciable amount of ice in Little River. Even after the ice was clear the water temperature remained in the high 30’s for a couple more days.

I met local fishing buddies Doug Sanders and Mark Douglas on Little River yesterday. I’ve spent a lot of time fishing with these guys including an ill-fated winter camping trip to Hazel Creek in an ice storm. The fishing started off a little slow around 11:00 AM. We picked up a few fish on nymphs but on a spotty basis.

By 1:00 the nymphing was excellent and we picked up multiple fish in most runs we fished. I fished a double rig of a Pat’s Nymph and Prince Nymph. I eventually switched traded the Prince Nymph for a Z-lon Nymph since the Pat’s Nymph accounted for most of the fish I hooked.

Doug had a far less creative rig, two George Nymphs, but continued to hook fish in most runs and pockets. He hoped to catch at least one brown trout and his wish came true. I’m still kicking myself for deferring the pool to him. Just as he approached the water I spotted a large brown feeding in the deepest part of the hole. Doug didn’t see it at first, but cast where I directed him. Just before the nymphs got to the fish Doug announced he saw it.

The fish turned and cruised back about two feet, turn around, and ate something. Doug’s indicator didn’t do anything but he set the hook based on the fish’s actions. That was a good decision on his part because the fish ate his #14 George Nymph.

Regrettably I didn’t have a camera handy. Because of the rainy conditions I just decided to leave it in the car. Doug was thrilled to land the fish, but crushed we didn’t have a camera or even a cell phone between us to capture an image. The brown was 18″ long and as colorful as they come. The back was olive, the belly was orange, and most of the spots were a rusty orange color. Beautiful!

The tailwater situation has improved, but not by much. Those who have kept a close eye on TVA generation schedules have probably been able to get on the Clinch and Holston Rivers. The South Holston and Watauga have had very favorable schudules. The Hiwassee hasn’t had any good fishing for waders.

Hazel Creek spring 2010


  1. I am certain that Doug’s creative thought process enabled him to imagine an abundance of George nymph activity in the slow water pool where you spotted the large brown. After visualizing the situation in 3D, the double George was the only choice. I am going to tie some today! Great Report

    • Ha! That’s pretty good, Andy. Doug and I were talking about you that day. Those techniques and flies are standard here but not as recognized on Great Lakes tribs where Doug just does what he knows.