Monday, July 10, 2017

Pheasant Tail - quick tie with variations - Point Fly

I got to my cabin this weekend in Blue Ridge, and realized I forgot all of my fishing gear, with the exception of a reel and a rod I keep at the cabin.  I did, however, have my fly tying material, so I decided to tie up a couple of flies for a quick outing on Noontootla.  I knew the water would be stained and the flow a little heavy with the rain.  In those type of conditions, I've found you don't need to go too small, but you need to get your flies down.  The following is what I used and tied, and yes, I caught fish:



 I used pheasant tail natural for the tail, and body, some old peacock herls for the thorax, and on two of the flies, a brown partridge for the hackle.

Monday, June 26, 2017

An Hour in the Woods - Noontootla

It has been a while since I had one of those moments . . . . The beautiful quotes from the likes of Thoreau and Muir on the wonders of nature seem to resonate during these brief moments in time.  A feeling of peace and tranquility pass through your mind, body, and spirit during these moments - at least that is what it feels like to me. I don't go looking for these moments in life.  They come on unexpectedly, but when they "hit", it's a magical sensation.
I had one yesterday; a Sunday - at a time when I would normally be attending church services.   I tied a fly the night before, rigged up the 4 wt. bamboo I made about a year ago, and jumped in the truck to fish Noontootla for an hour.   The water was a little cloudy, which was perfect.  I didn't care if I caught a fish, I just wanted to get in the woods for an hour.
Noontootla is a free stone creek that hasn't been stocked in decades.  The fish are wild, and often quite challenging. It's easy to get skunked on Noontootla.
It is rare in the South to catch a truly wild trout in a freestone stream that is 12 inches or more that hasn't been fed. That's simply the reality of fishing in the South, and it's probably why people love to fish DH streams, tailwaters, and private "trophy managed streams" in this area.  Unlike fishing a small southern wild trout stream, DH streams, tailwaters, and trophy managed streams allow anglers to catch large fish, and sometimes, it's quite easy in those setting to catch fish that would rival the fish in Western streams and rivers.   In contrast, If you fish wild streams, for example, in the Smokies, a "trophy" is a 12-14 inch fish.
Noontootla has always appealed to me.  It's absolutely beautiful.  The stream is small, though it is large enough in some areas to cast a little line if you want to.  The fish are generally small, like most wild freestone trout streams in the South; however, Noontootla is unique insofar as there is a legitimate chance to catch a large trout.  And, if you like brookies, the feeder streams offer that opportunity as well.  Noontootla is regulated, so you'll mostly see people fly fishing, and it is rarely crowded on the creek.
I have never caught a large fish in Noontootla.  I would venture to say 9 inches is the largest trout I've caught in that watershed.  I met a guy fishing the creek a few years ago who had that look on his face, and we spoke.  He had just caught a 19 inch rainbow.  He said he had been fishing the creek for 20 years, and it was his first large trout caught and landed on Noontootla.
Yesterday was a good day. An hour of fishing, and 6 fish to hand.  Most were small, and none were big by typical standards.  I caught a beautiful 12 inch rainbow, and that was a "trophy" in my book.  A wild 12 inch bow on 6x tippet with a 4 wt bamboo - it's doesn't get much better. I took a quick picture, revived the fish, and stood watching the river for about 5 minutes.  I got that feeling, and there is nothing like it!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

New Hampshire

I had a family vacation that took us on a long road from Tennessee to New Hampshire, with a number of stops along the way.  I brought my fly fishing gear just in case I got a minute or two to wet a line. Apparently, the fishing wasn't too fruitful in the area where we were staying, which was just a short distance south of the White Mountains.  We were right next to the "Pemi", but everyone I spoke with said it was "dead".  I decided to check out the Mad River, and as I was driving along the river, I saw fish rising in a large pool just above a dam.  The next morning I woke up and hit the Mad River for a few hours.  I caught about a half dozen brook trout in the pool of rising fish, and missed a great many more.  These were obviously stocked brook trout. I worked my way down river for about an hour and didn't see another fish.
A few days later I decided to try the Baker River.  I couldn't find much information on where to fish, so I just started following roads the ran along side the Baker.  I went over a bridge and spotted a good size fish.  I rigged up and put on a big bugger.  About 10 casts later, and a pretty good fight, I ended up with this strange looking fish:

I thought it was a carp, but apparently it was a huge minnow called a Fallfish.  I worked my way up river to a beautiful area with nice runs, deep pools, and lots of bends. I pounded the water hard for about an hour, and except for one chase by a small brook trout, I struck out.
Admittedly, I was disappointed by the fishing in New Hampshire. Of course, it could have been the time of year, my ignorance on fishing locations, etc.
Strangely enough, the highlight of the trip (in terms of fishing) was fly fishing for about 10 minutes on Walden Pond. We didn't catch anything, but my boys and I had a good time sharing the water with Thoreau.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Great Day on the Caney Fork with David Knapp

 I owed Rob a float trip, so I booked one with David Knapp for April 14, 2017. I have been on about 5 guided trips in the past, and frankly, was always a little disappointed.  This trip would be different.  We started out with one generator, and David tied on a shad streamer pattern - within a few casts, I thought I had hooked bottom. Much to my surprise, the first fish of the day was this nice 17 inch bow.
We worked our way up to the discharge spot, and the fishing was good. Within about an hour of the float I had caught a good number of fish, including browns, bows, a brookie, and a skipjack.  We then worked our way down stream. Although we didn't hook into any pigs, the average fish was probably in the 14-15 inch range.  Rob had a slow day to begin with, but after lunch, he got into some nice fish, including the beautiful brown pictured at the top of the page.
I will definitely float with David again. He is not only a skilled angler and a good teacher, but more than anything, he has a genuine passion and enthusiasm for fly fishing.  He was always just as excited as we were when we caught a nice fish or had a good follow.  Thanks David!

Monday, February 27, 2017

SoHo and Watauga

Day 1: I left Chattanooga early Friday morning and made my way to Elizabethton, TN.  I met up with John and Brad at a city park, and we rigged up to fish the Watauga River. I had fished the Watauga once before a number of years ago and got skunked.  I rigged up the 4 weight 10 foot rod, and put on a couple of small nymphs.  I picked out a nice run and landed 4 nice bows within about 30 minutes. I then moved down stream quite a ways.  Nothing going down there.  After a couple of hours, it was time to go.  John had a slow day, but landed a 17 inch bow.  Brad had done well - catching a large number of rainbows.  We then went to our cabin on the SoHo - we fished the slow water for a few minutes, but couldn't get any action.
Day 2: John and Brad fished the Soho for a few hours in the morning.  "Roaster JAD" formerly known as "Doc" had arrived Friday evening with a new boat. After some debate, and despite no flowing water, we decided to try to float it down the South Holston.  I tried small flies to begin with, and then switched to a huge circus peanut I had tied.  I immediately got a chase from a big brown. I continued fishing the big fly for a little while, and got a few more follows, but no hook-ups.  We had fun, but it was a tough float without any water.  John and Brad had caught a few; though it was slow-going for them as well.

Day 3:  It was cold Sunday morning - our floating options were basically non-existent, so we hit the Watauga in Elizabethton for a few hours of fishing.  I had tied up two flies Sunday morning - a small purple midge, and a small frenchie.  The frenchie caught 3 bows rather quickly, but then the action slowed down.  JAD broke his rod right when he started - it wasn't looking good. We switched locations and again it was tough fishing.  I managed to catch a nice bow right before we left.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Toccoa DH

A little slow, but managed to catch a few on some new flies.  The fish were stacked up at the stocking points, which I avoided simply as a matter of principle!