The Calendar Says Winter, But It’s Fishing Like Spring

February is definitely a winter month. Here in East Tennessee it’s not unusual to get a good break for a few days, but it’s unusual for spring to be in full swing by the end of the month. That’s what it’s beginning to look like.

Smoky Mountain Rainbow Trout

One of many trout that have succumbed to the dry fly this past week

We’re still catching them on dry flies in the Smokies, but it’s pretty obvious that the fish will rise much better on sunny days than gray ones right now.We’ve been so keyed up about the dry fly fishing we’ve almost forgotten that nymph fishing is still more effective.

We got word that two of our favorite anglers picked up three large brown trout in the 18″-20″ range. I’m trying to round up at least one photo, but take them at their word. These are the rare anglers who, if anything, tend to underestimate a trout’s size.Those fish came on nymphs as I would have guessed. Anyone who knows Smoky Mountain brown trout will also conclude that a Tellico Nymph was part of the equation as well.

Charity and I had company in town over the weekend. We did get out and take a group hike, but fishing was not the main event. Between the two of us we probably got in 20 casts. Even so Charity whiffed on a brown trout that was easily 16″ in an unlikely spot. That was on a dry fly so we’ll be sure to cast there again soon.

Early Brown Stonefly

No Quill Gordons or Blue Quills yet. Small dun caddis and Early Brown Stones are what you’ll see buzzing along the streams.

Generation schedules on our local tailwaters are still a little flaky with flows for a few hours in the morning. You either show up a little late, or do the “flip flop”. That is you start low on the river and fish until late morning, then bug out as the river rises. Grab some lunch, then head up the river closer to the dam to catch it as the water starts to fall out.

Zebra Midges are the typical early season pick, but sow bug patterns and basic beadheads in the #18 range will pick up some fish too. Windy conditions over the weekend plus more today make the Clinch and Holston a challenge.

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