Fall Fishing Under Difficult Circumstances

Fall fishing is certainly here. From our window we can see shades of red, orange, and gold along the crest of the Smokies. Mornings require a fleece jacket to be comfortable while afternoons are sunny and comfortable with your sleeves rolled up. Trout are rising well to dry flies in the Smokies, but right now we’re anything but happy with our options.

Fall On North River

Fall color on North River in Cherokee National Forest

As Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains closed due to the government shutdown we have no access to the streams that are only a few minutes from us. We had no choice but to cancel our Hazel Creek camp last week and make refunds to our anglers. That gave us plenty of free time so we made the 90 minute drive down to the Tellico River basin to our south.

It was obvious that we weren’t the only ones who had the idea as we saw numerous local tags parked along the river and even ran into a few old acquaintances. Fishing was pretty good but there were a few spots where we came upon some wet footprints that explained why a good looking run of water didn’t yield any strikes.

Rising North River Rainbow

As you can see the fish were definitely looking up

We only fished dry flies and had pretty steady action over the course of the day. There were  a few runs where we’re sure a nymph would have turned some heads, but you could say that we were just happy to be on the water and weren’t overly concerned with a body count.

The Clinch and Holston Rivers are in their typical fall high water phase as TVA is drawing down the reservoirs. There are still some recreational flows on the Clinch on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of this month, but honestly, any time the rivers are running full tilt all week then turn off on Saturday morning the fish and bugs are trying to get their bearings and not really in a great mood.

If there’s any good news here it’s that Norris Lake is falling fast. In fact it looks like winter pool should be reached by November 1 so we hope there’s some moderation in the flows soon. Also, water temperatures on the have dropped so as soon as Cherokee Dam reduces flows you can expect some happy trout on the Holston.