In Spite of the Thaw It’s Still Winter

We had almost a week of weather that sure felt like spring. Bright sun coupled with some hiking made you take the jacket off and feel comfortable in shirt sleeves. There were a few days of good fishing in the mix, but even then there was melting snow that kept water temperatures relatively frigid in the Smokies. That was followed by some heavy rain which brought the water temperature up, but also took the water levels up to well beyond fishable levels. We tried to take as much advantage of it as we could before the snow returned. The Smoky Mountains are under a Winter Storm Warning as I write this.

Even in the warm weather there are signs it's still winter

Even in the warm weather there are signs it’s still winter

While it felt incredible to get outside and feel the sun on your face, it was the usual February head fake that makes you run to the river giddy, tripping to the water as you don’t even have your waders pulled all the way. While it feels great to be on the water casting a rod, the fish don’t share in the enthusiasm. Overnight temperatures in the Smokies have been well below freezing and the days aren’t long enough to get those water temperatures out of the basement.

Charity Fishes Deep Creek

It’s always a little disappointing when the trout aren’t quite so revved up about the day as you are, but even fishing nymphs feels pretty good after being cooped up inside for a while. We’ve fished a few times lately but these photos are from a day on Deep Creek about a week ago.

Nothing out of the ordinary in the way of fly selection. I think Charity was using a #16 Pheasant Tail up top and a #10 Rubber Legs Nymph down low while I used a #16 Zelon Nymph up high and a #12 Pat’s Nymph on bottom. The smaller flies up top did better for both of us than the bigger flies on bottom.

Ian Fishes Indian Creek

I went out of my way to make it a little tougher than necessary depending on your point of view. A long time ago I learned to fish nymphs without a strike indicator and always enjoy that extra concentration when fishing for myself. Many consider that to be harder than fishing with an indicator, but under most circumstances in the Smokies that’s not the case for me. In fact, I caught more fish than Charity.

But in the interest of not getting my ass beat full disclosure I have to admit she caught the fish of the day on the indicator rig, a very nice brown trout on the #16 Pheasant Tail Nymph.

Deep Creek Brown

Right now it looks like the next couple of weeks will be a little harsh with sure enough winter weather and high flows on the tailwaters. However, we’re probably getting close to the spring hatches. Those usually start to happen just about a month from now so hang on! We’re almost there.

Brown Trout Adipose