A Week of Warm Water Fly Fishing

Fly fishing up in the Smokies has been pretty good compared to the local tailwater scene where high water has brought things to a screeching halt. It’s not that I don’t like summer conditions up in the Smokies, but I’ve had a pretty long string of days where we’ve chased smallmouth bass and an assortment of sundry species that got in our way.

A fly fisher on a smallmouth bass stream in East Tennessee

The bass streams are just as pretty as the trout streams

Over the last week we caught a pretty good number of smallies, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the red eyes and bream didn’t outnumber them. As a guide I’m always trying to get my anglers on the target fish and was recently reminded that sometimes that’s not always the fun way to go. Doug Bomeisler was more than tickled to catch a variety of sunfishes and downsized his popper so more could get the hook.


Just as colorful as a trout, but much greedier

One of the most overlooked species is the red eye, also known as a rock bass. These guys will often outrace a bass to a popping bug and have a ferocious strike that’s bigger than they are. They don’t have near so much fight as a smallmouth, but don’t them them that.

Red Eye, also known as Rock Bass

One of many greedy red eyes in our local smallmouth bass streams

Of course there were plenty of smallies, but they will show far more restraint than their smaller cousins when it comes to taking a fly. We caught a few on streamers last week, but the low water conditions favored popping bugs and who can resist bass eating on top?

Hooked up with a nice fish

Hooked up with a nice smallmouth. Or was it a spot, a red eye, a big sunfish, or a carp? It all runs together…

Smallmouth & Popping Bug

Oh yeah… The “target” species

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