The End of the Season

Here we are on the Monday after Thanksgiving and things are just the same as always on this date. We’ve been guiding quite a bit up to this point, but it’s pretty well come to a screeching halt.

Don’t get us wrong. We’ve truly enjoyed taking every last one of you fishing, but we’ll enjoy the break in the action too. While it’s the end of our guide season we tend to look at it as the beginning of our fishing season. Since last March we’ve spent the vast majority of our time on the water fishing via remote control, if you will. Now we’ll actually get to operate the actual equipment for a few months.

Before we gear up and hit the water you’ll probably appreciate anything we could tell you about the conditions since we’re excited to hit the water ourselves.

Abrams Creek fy fisher with rainbow trout

Jonathan Bussey shows off a nice rainbow from Abrams Creek

Dry fly fishing is still a viable option in the Smokies. Just yesterday on Abrams Creek we fished dropper rigs with #14 Thunderheads and Parachute Adams with #16 Zelon Nymph trailers. While I wasn’t surprised, my anglers were thrilled to find about half of their strikes on the dry fly. We’ve recently seen the rainbows on Abrams even taking #10 Stimulators, in spite of the fact nothing anywhere near that large has been near the water in months.

Trout on Little River and other large streams are also rising, but are a little more particular. A #16 Parachute Adams is a pretty good fly to start with, but if you find a pod of fish up in a slower drift line you might think a little smaller. We continue to do well with #18 Parachute BWO’s. Hi-Vis is the way to go for most anglers.

Small stuff isn’t always necessary, but if you’re fishing the most over fished attractive pools on the river you can be sure the fish have seen everything in the fly bins, so goofy attractors like Obi-Juan Kenobi and Y2K bugs won’t entice  fish in these spots. In fact, last week we even broke down and tied on Zebra Midge droppers to fool some of these fish who looked at all of our small dries only once before continuing to feed while ignoring subsequent drifts.

The wildlife is still very active. Whitetail bucks are moving around for the rut and bears are feeding for winter hibernation.

Smoky Mountain black bear

We’re still available for guiding, though. We typically recommend half day trips in the afternoon in the Smokies through February. Tailwater flows are certainly interesting right now and we’re looking forward to some time behind the oars too. The Holston below Cherokee has had some pretty good flows and we’re still waiting for flows to improve on the Clinch.

Flows on the Clinch aren’t awful right now, but they certainly favor big streamers from a boat instead of small nymphs. There are almost always a few pods of fish up sipping somewhere regardless of the flows, but we’re hoping for lower flows to get more of those fish up on the surface.
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  1. Just wondering. Thanks again for guiding me last week, it was a great time as usual. Yes that was one huge trout. Almost scary. And I was really surprised that we were able to sight cast to that many big fish, that late in November.

  2. My question is, did you return to that huge brown trout we saw on the Little River?

    • Went by there several days later, but didn’t see anything. We fished that deep slot with heavy nymphs but got one small rainbow. I’m sure that fish is still somewhere close by, but probably won’t see him so well as we did on that day.