Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tight Lining Using the Microlight Combo

A fantastic day on Smith using the 7 1/2 ft. Microlight fishing in 30 to 35 feet down under. When the fly rod won't get to the fish try the next best combo to the fly rod, the Microlight!!!
The lake is very low now and the fish are in the deep water and very finicky; adapting to the conditions and making the best of the situation is a must if one is going to land fish this time of the year on Smith. I used a technique yesterday that will work on any water one may fish. Tight lining using a micro light spinning rod rigged with a slip shot, 20" above a bluegill hook. A bobber stopper is used to stop the slip sinker from sliding down the line while the rest of the line with the hook float along the bottom. The hook is tagged with a cricket and tipped with white crappie nibblet. A slow retrieve will usually get the take and most all  the hits are on  the fall as the cricket falls back to the bottom. There is no mistaking the hit, most of the time the fish will take the cricket and swim away franticly, that is when you merely lift the rod and set the hook. I have found that 4 lb. test Vanish line is best choice for fishing this technique. The above group was the best of the best for yesterdays outing. Got to love it!!!!  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fishing The Soft Hackle During a Feeding Frenzy

A quick Saturday morning trip to the Sipsey proved to be productive using the soft hackle. I was not in any big hurry to get on the tailrace this Saturday, because the humidity and fog was heavy. I forgot to mention the crowds. Generators were scheduled to be running at 1 PM so the 2 hours I had needed to be spent wisely. My plan was to spend all my time in two areas right above the pump station. Both spots always have trout and today were no exception. As usual the trout were in a subsurface feeding mode and feeding on tiny brown midge flies. As I stood there and watched the feeding frenzy I notice other anglers casting above and below me. My little area only covered roughly 100 ft. so I staked the area out and stayed put. Needless to say there were a lot of anglers on the Sipsey today.
I got somewhat irritated with the canoes, kayaks and even an aluminum boat floating in all the areas that everyone was trying to fish. I’ve never seen any watercraft during the weekdays, I guess that tells me something???
I always get pumped when I can get some action on the dries, so with the size 18 Gnat I gave the dries their due, but to no avail. My first strange looking wide body trout of the morning, in fact I thought I had landed a small skipjack.

The real reason for this Saturday morning trip was to fish some of the soft hackles Alan tied for me a couple of weeks ago. I know I could have waited until the weekdays with less traffic, but I was like a kid with a new toy I just had to play. Even a Geezer can still be a kid at heart!!!
  Structure slowed the midge drift down and that was the area where the heavy feeding was occurring.
Another rainbow which couldn’t resist the silver hackle; this morning the trout was taking the hackle a little different as opposed to previous trips. No drift takes today, all the hits occurred as I was working the soft hackle back across the feeding area. No indicator, just a slow retrieve tight lining. Numerous rainbows landed today using the 3 weight.
One beat up fly pattern after a mornings work. As I’ve said many times the Sipsey is pressured everyday with lots of fly fishermen especially on weekends; so when one finds a pattern that will produced they better guard it. I found that pattern this morning in Alan’s soft hackle

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Filling my Bucket List

This past Friday my buddy Charles and I fished the Elk River near Winchester Tennessee with David Perry our guide. It was a stellar day to say the least. We had perfect weather with hardy any humidity and very little sunlight keeping the temps in the low eighties all day. We started the drift boat trip at the dam and 9 miles later we took out at Turkey Launch. Neither of us had ever fished the Elk and was so impressed with its beauty and the amount of trout in the river. It is stocked every month with rainbow and browns, which thrive in the nutrient rich waters.
I have fished numerous times with David over the past years and have come to realize when one fishes with him; they can expect to land lots of trout. Well Friday was no exception, Charles and I landed an insane number of browns and rainbow during our 8 to 9 hour excursion.   

You can see the dam in the background. We shoved the drift boat off from the gravel flats and spent the next 8 to 9 hours getting out trout fix!
One of many healthy rainbows that inhaled our nymphs throughout the day.
  This brown was the largest trout Charles ever landed—talk about excitement!!

Landing my best brown of the day, using my 9 ft. 5 weight; I loss numerous trout at the beginning of the float, because I was using my 4 weight, which didn’t have the backbone to handle the better trout. My catch ratio improved after I starting casting my 5 weight.
 The end result!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fishing The Sink Tip for Spotted Bass

I have to admit that this hasn’t been a bumper year for popper action on Smith Lake for me. I realize a number of factors have affected the top action, such as dropping water levels, cold fronts, and of course the angler himself. Every time I go on the water I wonder if I’m using the right fly pattern or am I working that pattern well enough to get a hit. Sometimes anglers including me want the fish to hit what they perceive as the best fly for them to take at a particular time, place and season.  I think that is one of the reasons why my catch ratio has gone down this year on Smith. I assume every time I launch the boat on Smith at daylight that the fish are going to nail the popper, why because I love to see the fish blow up on the popper. If the fish are chasing shad a cream colored popper will get their attention, but if there is no surface activity at all then the best option is working a pattern down under. That pattern could be something that resembles the actual shad that the bass are feeding on. The slow top action on Smith this season has driven me to work harder at analyzing what the fish really want. Could it be a bead head nymph, streamer, or a variation of a popper? To fish all these different patterns and poppers, one really needs an extra fly rod aboard; 5 to 6 weight for poppers and nymphs and a 7 weight for streamers. Keep in mind most of the time on Smith, if one is using the fly rod to fish for bass the spot is the fish that is going to nail their offering. This fish is a ferocious fighter and the heavier the fly rod the better, so two fly rods one in 6 weight and the other being a 7 weight. I seldom fish the lake without a 3 or 4 weight to handle the lighter patterns that will produce when nothing else is working. In fact I am always armed with 3 fly rods every time I fish Smith Lake.
My latest daylight trip on Smith a few days ago enabled me to apply all the above tactics.
A mouth full of beadhead nymph, which this spot just couldn’t resist.
Posing for a side view image; this spot put up quite a fight on the 5 weight. I usually fish the sink tip either with my 5 or 6 weight 9 ft. fly rod. This size spot can you make you think he is much bigger as he makes numerous runs to try to break free. I have started fishing the sink tip with a 5 ft. piece of mono usually 8 lb. test. I get a fairly quick sink with the light line and beadhead nymph attached.
This was one greedy spot, with his belly full of shad he just had to have one more, which was his undoing. The cream bugger got his attention.
I couldn’t leave the lake without trying to land a few bull gills on the popper which is always a blast. My bluegill goal is lost for this season,  but there is always another season to give it a try.
A lot of residents on the lake like to use platform decks to view all the activity; this is one of many that can be found up and down the waterway.
No need for the gym, working your way up these steps to the top of the rock wall is exercise enough

Friday, August 7, 2015

Nymphing Swirling Pocket Water

I was back on the Sipsey today trying to improve on my skunk trip this past week. The first half hour had me thinking that I was in for another non fish trip.

I decided I would start today’s outing at access 7 which is the last access located at the mouth of the dam. One can get a good work out walking from where your truck is parked at access 5 to 7. As I walked down the long metal walk way and approached the bottom of gouge I notice that Brandon owner of the Riverside Fly shop had a guide trip under way. They were in the area where I was going to start fishing, so after spending less than half hour in the shallow runs above them fishing my nymph with no success, I moved on down the gouge.

 While moving down the gouge I decided to tight line the nymph in some pocket water located in the faster section of the tailrace some distance below where I first encountered the guide trip. I haven’t work the pocket water this season as much as last year, so today I would give it a try. I had to do some careful wading using my wading staff (I never go on the water now without my wading staff) to get to my first spot because of all the moss covered rocks. Once there I used my 9 ft. Streamflex rod to high stick the first swirling pocket. I felt I could detect the take much better if I was in direct contact with the trout through tight lining as oppose to using the indicator. I was letting the nymph drift into the deep area of the pocket where it was only visible for a few seconds, to the trout before it was rushed on down stream. A few seconds is all it took to connect with my first rainbow of the morning. As luck would have it this one little hole was stacked with trout to the tune of 5 landed and that many lost for me in a very short time spent in this area.
Numerous trout landed for the morning using the high sticking method. I loss more trout than I landed today, mainly because I was late setting the hook.

My 3 weight Greys Streamflex paired with my Orvis 2/3 weight reel got quite a work out today. This combo works well here with the indicator/nymph combo and the dry, but could be a little light for the high stick method. I feel if I had been using my 9 ft. 4 weight the catch ratio would have increased. My next outing will include the 4 weight.