It’s Sulphur Time on the Tailwaters

We’re seeing diminished flows on the Clinch and more anglers are finally getting on this river. In fact, some might say too many, at least over the holiday weekend. We avoided it on Saturday as it’s always a mob scene on the most popular rivers and our sources say this year was no exception. One local angler told us that he saw all manner of watercraft on the Clinch with the sole exception of a bath tub.

Sulphur mayfly

We put the boat in on low water and one generator caught us shortly after lunch. The fishing was extremely technical. Early in the day the water was littered with midges, but very few fish seemed to be eating much of anything. A few Sulphurs were hatching and all of the rises we saw, few as they were, were on the mayflies.

The fish were their typically skittish selves and the only way to get a fly on them was to cast well ahead of the boat and simply coast into the feeding lane. The fish will often take on a looser attitude with the increased flow, but that wasn’t the case. The number of Sulphurs hatching was incredible, but the number of rising fish was a bit on the conservative side even as there were plenty of fish up. In short, there were plenty of risers, just not so many as you would have thought considering the number of bugs.

The fish remained cautious and would sometimes go down even after one well placed cast. The best policy was to lay a cast well upstream of them and let it drift in. The added distance and long drifts with mends left plenty of room for missed strikes but my anglers did manage some impressive hookups. Unfortunately all the best fish never made it to the net, but everyone in the boat had a pretty casual attitude and just had a ball working risers.

We got trout to eat a variety of patterns including Comparaduns, Sparkle Duns, Parachutes, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, and Zelon Nymphs.

The Smokies

Water levels in the Smokies are finally just about what you would expect. Depending on the stream you’re fishing the water may seem a little high, but frankly, we’ve always preferred the water a little high instead of a little low. Dry fly fishing is easily the way to go and we’re in our habit of going with a #14 Parachute Adams. If it’s a little early in the day and the fish aren’t really looking up yet a #14 – 16 Stimulator with a #16 Pheasant Tail, Tellico Nymph, Copper John or whatever you like fished about two feet underneath is the way to go.

The weather will really start to warm up this week, so this may be the week we start to wade wet in the Smokies. If you’re  in one of the larger streams and not hiking in you may decide to stick with the waders, but you can get by with just your wading boots as we’ll see afternoon temperatures well into the 80’s.


Several days back I took Jerry for a day of fishing in the park. Jerry had a situation that we see all the time. He knows how to fly cast and can catch fish with a fly rod, but just can’t figure out how to catch a wild trout in the Smokies. With just a little bit of work Jerry was on the fish. Reading the water was his main issue and before long he was getting multiple strikes in a single run of water. In fact, he landed more fish in an afternoon than he had in several years of coming to the Smokies.