2015 Begins with True Winter Fishing in East Tennessee

The new year is here and so is the cold weather. The temperature on our porch in Townsend this morning was 24 and that may be our high tomorrow. Water levels in the mountain rivers and streams are a little high but water temperature has started to plummet as you would expect. Fortunately this should only last a few days and more winter weather more in line with typical for East Tennessee should be here soon with afternoon temps in the low 40’s.


Charity enjoying the surroundings as much as the fishing

We’ve been outside a fair amount during the holiday period, but you might say it’s been a bit of a sabbatical from guiding (and blogging for anyone who’s checked recently). The guide life is extremely hectic March thru October here in East Tennessee and the Smokies so you could say we’ve been spoiling ourselves with the slow pace of life in a mountain town outside of tourist season.

We’ve been fishing and hiking, but at a leisurely pace and we’ve enjoyed the process of being outside without worrying about how many fish will be landed. As much as we try to keep an easy going facade during the guide season, we’re always concerned about how many fish will be landed so it’s nice to just fish a dry fly even if the fish aren’t looking up or just walk along the river without feeling compelled to fish that reliable run of water.

Late fall and winter is the time of year when we tend to move away from waters we consider “the office” and visit places we haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes this means taking a long hike to fish a few short hours in a far off stream while other times it means going to Cades Cove when you can make the scenic drive to Abrams Creek without sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.


One of our fishing buddies during a productive day of nymphing on a damp day at Abrams Creek

We’re also having blast fishing with Tenkara more and more. Don’t worry, we haven’t discarded the traditional fly rods but Tenkara is stunningly effective in the Smokies and it’s pretty damn fun as well. Another lesser known fact about Tenkara is that there are no guides to freeze up in cold weather. Catch a few fish like this one and any doubts you have about Tenkara will vanish.

A very nice wild rainbow trout caugh on a Tenkara rod in the Smokies

A very nice wild rainbow trout caught on a Tenkara rod in the Smokies

The tailwater scene here in East Tennessee has been up and down with some good flows followed by bad ones. However, any time you can get on the big water right now should be good. The fish haven’t experienced much pressure in a long time and are typically pretty eager to take a small Pheasant Tail Nymph or Zebra Midge. We’re looking forward to the next good batch of lower flows on the Clinch, Holston, and Hiwassee to spend some more of those good times on the water.



  1. Glad to see another post! I know you guys need a break from guiding & blogging but it sure does help get me thru my day reading a quick blog from the best place on earth (GSMNP).

    Thanks guys and Happy New Year

    • Thanks, Brandon! We should be churning them out more frequently, at least once the weather gets up into the 30’s.