It’s Not Winter Yet

Things are quickly slipping towards winter here in the Smokies. The mornings have certainly gotten cold and we’ve had several consecutive frosts. Most of the leaves are off the trees even as a few pockets of brilliant color hang on in sheltered coves. The fish are still rising, but not as fast and furious as a few weeks ago and a nymph is starting to become a valuable commodity for the fly fisher. It’s almost like winter, but not quite.

Afternoons are still pretty comfortable with only a light jacket or vest, and it’s just incredible to be outside when the sun is shining. And the fish are still rising.

Using the Tenkara rod on Little River

Using the Tenkara rod on Little River

We’ve been having a blast using our Tenkara rods on Little River, Abrams Creek, and Tremont lately. You can nymph with them, but why fish nymphs when the fish will rise? I know plenty of folks enjoy nymphing and I’m not knocking it since I catch plenty of fish on nympns myself, but this is essentially the end of the consistent dry fly fishing and I’m hanging in there as long as I can.

Charity hooked up to a nice rainbow on Little River with a Tenkara rod

Charity hooked up to a nice rainbow on Little River with a Tenkara rod

There aren’t any special flies to worry about right now, just the basics, but we’re seeing some Blue Wing Olives and small dun caddis on the stream along with some midges too. The fish are eating small stuff but you can get them to eat something bigger with a good drift. Think #16 Parachute whatever or Elk Caddis. Early in the day a couple of nymphs dead drift under an indicator will keep things interesting until the fish get a little more active around 11:00 or noon. Expect better action from the sunny spots than the dark ones.

We’re working on another article about the advantages of fly fishing with Tenkara, so keep an eye out for that to show up soon. It’s become a method we rely on to help our anglers get into fish, and more important, it’s pretty damn fun.

Outside of the Smokies it’s a mixed bag on the tailwater scene. The key to good tailwater fishing lately has been a close watch on TVA flow schedules. The Clinch has had some good flows but this week TVA has bumped them up. Anyone with a boat can actually find some pretty good activity though as streamer fishing won’t be on fire but there will be some XXXL fish to chase or hopefully eat. Nymphing has been good all autumn at the higher flows and the observant oarsman/angler will probably find a few fish up rising in a select few spots.

There’s still too much water running on the Holston for fishing to be a good option, but it won’t be long before flows subside and the onset of water will bring marginal water temperatures to an end. Even the South Holston and Watauga are running high and better suited to floating anglers. Hang in there, though. It won’t be long until flows bottom out and you’ll find tough but fun tailwater fish midging on clear, cold days.