The weather is great, bugs are hatching, trout are rising, and our guide calendar is filling up fast. We even saw a flock of turkeys with a couple of strutting gobblers yesterday. No doubt about it, spring is here and it’s a great time to fly fish in East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains.
Up to this point the fishing has been a little spotty and our experiences have varied a little bit from others who have been out on the water. Hatches have been variable but with the string of 70 degree days in the forecast you can be sure that consistency is on the way. Yesterday I did a hike in trip with an angler. We saw very few bugs in spite of an incredibly beautiful day. However, by the end of the day he landed more fish on a dry fly than a nymph. And that was even while fishing a nymph dropper on a dry fly. The fish are certainly looking up!
Right now your game plan should be to fish nymphs in the morning and start watching for the bugs to show up between noon and 1:00. We’re sticking with the bushy dry flies in #12 and water levels are
a little high at that typical spring level. The bugs are large and the water turbulent so there’s not much call for little bugs or delicate, sparsely hackled fly patterns.
The tailwater situation hasn’t changed much, but better times are ahead. There aren’t many places out there where an angler can find a tailwater to wade right now, but we’re approaching the date when TVA will reduce flows to allow regional reservoirs to fill. It’s been a wet winter and TVA has had to keep quite a bit of water flowing through the dams to provide some capacity in the reservoirs for flood prevention.
The trout in the tailwaters should be in great shape once the rivers subside. The fish always do quite well in higher flows and they haven’t seen any pressure since last fall.