The Peak of Fall Fly Fishing in the Smokies

We’ve got to admit it. We’ve been more than a little let down by the TVA generation schedules over most of the fall season so far. Last autumn was so good on the Clinch that we’re still savoring it, but outside of a few weekend opportunities, we’ve been guiding almost exclusively in the Smokies since we returned from out western trip.

Good thing the fishing has been nothing short of exceptional in the Smokies for the past month. Great weather and ideal water conditions have given us great fishing to share with our anglers. This past weekend Eric Wetherington was the right fly fisher in the right place.

Eric Wetherington shows off an exceptional  Smoky Mountain brown trout

Eric is a local East Tennessean who’s been honing his fly fishing skills for a little more than a year and catching fish in the Smokies and on the Clinch, but scheduled a trip with us to learn a few more things.

Fish were very active and I knew it would be a great day. We started out nymphing and picked up some fish Tellico and Pat Nymphs. Eric was a quick study with tight line nymphing and nailed a number of fish with that method, but we switched to dry flies when I noticed some fish holding high in the water.

Late in the day we spotted several large brown trout cruising the tail of a long pool. The water was pretty shallow so I rigged a Pat’s Nymph under a Stimulator so Eric would have some type of strike indicator. He made one cast, a nice fish made a slight turn to the right and ate the nymph. In his excitement Eric struck a little too hard and the fish came off with a shake of the head.

We decided to wait a little longer since we had seen several fish and that happened when every other large fish was out of sight. Sure enough, three more big fish positioned themselves in the same spot. Eric cast the same rig and the fly drifted by without any response. The nymph was just past the fish when the largest turned and rushed the fly just as Eric was picking up. This fish was easily the largest in the pool, but saw us and bolted for cover. I changed the fly to a #14 beadhead nymph, but other two fish seemed to sense trouble and moved on.

We waited a little longer and another fish settled in. It didn’t seem as large as the others, but it was there. I estimated it at 14″ from where we were crouched and Eric made a cast. The fish easily moved to the nymph and took it. We immediately knew the fish was bigger than we originally thought.

A large, beautiful wild brown trout

We measured the fish and it went 18″. We got a few pictures, removed the hook, and the fish quickly swam off to deeper water at the head of the pool. It was Eric’s largest wild trout to date and one of the nicest ones we’ve guided someone to this season.

There were also a number of fish like this rainbow up rising all afternoon. The weather forecast looks good for the next week and we can’t wait to get back out on the water!

Beautiful Smoky Mountain rainbow trout caught on a dry fly

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