It’s the middle of March and our guide season has started rolling even as hatches in the Smokies started at least a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been seeing Early Brown Stoneflies for some time and the Blue Quills and Quill Gordons have been hatching in good numbers.
In spite of what’s been an exceptionally mild winter we’ve seen a pretty strong cold snap this week. In fact Charity and I were both guiding in a driving snow yesterday. Fishing was markedly slower than what we’ve been experiencing, but the bugs did hatch in the afternoon and there were still some fish up rising.
Tailwater flows have been somewhat unpredictable, but that’s a pretty standard expectation for late winter into March. We have reached the time, however, when TVA will start to scale back flows to fill local reservoirs. This means reduced flows from the dams that are usually very consistent. It shouldn’t be long before I’ll be on the oars almost daily.
I’ve done a few floats over the past month and it’s been mostly nymphing or fishing streamers for those with the stamina to hang in there with it when flows were good for it. Streamer fishing on the Clinch is a classic “chicken or feathers” type of day. The fishing can be tiring and you don’t usually see all that many fish, but it only takes an instant for things to change. Chris Minix is an avid streamer fisherman and put on a clinic last week.
We only expect the fishing to get better as the month progresses and March turns to April.