Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Tellico Hatchery trout--Fighters!!

The Sipsey Tailrace is one of many tailraces that depend on trout hatcheries for a supply of trout year-round. The two main hatcheries that release trout into the Sipsey are Dale Hollow Hatchery and Tellico Hatchery both located in Tennessee. Most of the time the trout arrive in great condition considering the distance from the hatchery and the tailrace. Sometimes some can be lost due to the oxygen content in the tank they are transferred in. Of the two hatcheries mentioned Tellico releases the largest and healthiest trout. Dale Hollow's trout are smaller and not as healthy as the Tellico trout. I was lucky to fish the Sipsey this past Friday the day after Tellico released 1100 pounds in the Sipsey Thursday afternoon. All the trout released were quality trout a challenge for any fly fishermen using a fly rod.
I like to fish the tailrace when it's super clear because you can spot the trout you are targeting and know exactly where to place your fly. Friday was the last day of a three-day wind blitz we had been experiencing, so I was wondering if the wind would be a factor. To my surprise, the wind was a plus, because the ripples created by the wind made it difficult for the trout to see you up close in some of the holes I fished. This particular run was very good to me for the morning outing. 
Dana one of my blogging and fly fishing buddies from Huntsville met me at the tailrace around 8:30. He is a member of theTennessee Valley Fly Fishers Club in Huntsville Alabama. He is also the editor of their monthly newsletter. So between fly fishing and reporting news from the club he stays busy. He had his best day fishing the Sipsey Friday. We both agreed as we were leaving and walking up the banks of the gorge that the trout were active this morning. Thanks, Dana for joining me on a successful trip for both of us!
This fatty rainbow was my first to get the morning started for me fishing an area I like to fish in clear water. I saw this trout moving back and forth in a tight run feeding. I noticed he was rising some and would settle back into his comfort zone. I tried a couple of nymphs trying to get him to commit to a hit but no luck. At times he would turn and move toward the nymph but no take. So after changing flies 4 times I finally hit on the nymph he took. What is so cool about tight lining is seeing the take and knowing you have only seconds to set the hook, otherwise you miss the trout. I am getting better at detecting the take as shown with this beauty taken on my 10 ft. 3 wt.---colorful gill plate on this trout. He put the 3 wt. through an unbelievable fight before he was netted. Gotta love it when a plan comes together!!
Another healthy Tellico rainbow landed fishing pocket water near access six. Every trout I landed this morning engaged the drag. I would have lost some of the trout today if not for my drag. A 5X tippet can easily be broken when this size trout charges in and out of rock beds fraying a tippet line quickly. 
Sorry for the reflection in the background, but I was trying to get the photo before this trout jetting off.  This trout was more of a fighter than any I landed for the morning. He made numerous runs before I netted him. 
Another Tellico beauty landed as I was waiting for Dana to catch up with me at access five. By the way access, 5 is the best way to leave the tailrace if you are a senior. Access 6 and 7 are for those young bucks to climb all those stairs upward to leave the gorge, not us seasoned guys! 
What a great way to spend a morning doing something that both of us love to do, landing numerous rainbow trout fishing on our favorite tailrace!!----------------tightlines!!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Rare Saturday Morning Fishing on The Sipsey

 Guys I've been trying to fish the Sipsey for weeks. Well, this morning I made a rare visit on a Saturday. I didn't get lonesome I had plenty of company. I was fishing my 10 ft. 3 wt. this morning tight-lining in places where others were not fishing. Anytime one can land a few trout on a beautiful morning without rain, tornados, and cold fronts is always a plus.!! 

If you haven't given the 10 ft. 3 wt a try it is worth a look. This stocker trout was quite a workout for the 10 ft. Netting the trout takes some adjustment when dealing with an extra foot in length. 
You all know how proud Cathey and I are of our grandchildren, well we feel like our oldest one Bryson is growing up too fast. He will graduate from the elementary school next week. Just seems like yesterday we were rocking him to sleep when he was a baby----makes us wonder sometimes how times zooms by!
I can't mention Bryson without mentioning Cash our youngest grandson. He is the number one player on his tag football team. He has a lot of speed for 6 years old. Laylyn, Pops hasn't forgotten you I will feature some of your tennis skills soon. 
Another rainbow landed today fishing deep in unknown waters on the Sipsey. Look for the 10 wt. to make an appearance on Smith Lake soon fighting some of those bull bluegills. This trout was a hoot to land on the 3 wt. 
I'm a big fan of wild fern in wetlands and shaded wooded areas. To duplicate the sound of a small stream with wild fern around it like Alan's fishes I decided I would created a little wetland near our front door. Alan, I can't fish this place but it reminds me of all those small streams all you guys have the pleasure to fish .  Tightlines!!

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Spotted Bass a Worthy Opponent on the Fly Rod

 Jeff and I started our Smith Lake fishing season off with a bang Tuesday, fishing high water 10 ft. above full pool. Two generators were active during the morning but that didn't stop both of us from landing some nice Spotted Bass and a few quality bluegills.

Jeff landed this nice Spotted Bass in one of the nooks close to the launch, using what else the famed Boogle Bug popper. The male bass put up a tight fight!!
The size 10 Boogle Bullet was what got this Bass's attention. It is the smallest Boogle popper in the collection. Moving this popper will cause it to go subsurface and then float upward. The hit will usually occur when the popper is sitting still. This bass just couldn't resist inhaling the small popper. The two best colors in the small bullet collection are white and electric blue.
A few bluegills were taken using the White and Electric Blue bullet letting the popper rest motionless for a few seconds and then wait for the take. The really big bull bluegills haven't moved into the back of the nooks yet to get ready for the spawn. Water temps play a big part in the spawning process and the temps at 65 degrees in Smith at the present time are too cold for any active spawning. 
I thought I would update you guys on the progress made with the clean-up behind Jason's house and the rest of the houses on the street his house is on after the tornado hit. This is what the common area behind almost all the houses look like before the clean-up was finished last Saturday. 
This image is what the common area looks like now after the Church of the Highlands finished moving all the fallen trees, stumps, and huge limbs from the area. They even filled in all the huge root holes after all the big trees were removed. The Church of the Highlands is the largest in Alabama with a membership of well over 30,000 members. Their mission work is remarkable and many of the residents were so grateful for their assistance in the clean-up effort. Many residents of the subdivision also volunteered to help remove blown insulation, decking material, shingles, and household items that had been blown all over the subdivision. There is still a lot of debris to be moved but everyone felt we made huge progress with Saturday's work. 

Jeff recorded a video using his phone of me fighting a nice Spotted Bass but he missed filming the landing of the fish -- the link for the video is https://youtu.be/-vxwzJqI2vw  -----I was going to share it in this post but for some reason, the video link on blogger would not transfer it into this post because it was not found on Utube.  The only way to find it on Utube was by using the link. I will be filming more videos this season using my Contour video camera so you guys can see just how hard these Spotted Bass and huge Bluegills fight when hooked. 
Sorry, I couldn't be a little more professional with the video but sometimes technology can outwit you. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Heavy Rains, Flooding, Tornadoes and No Fishing

 Guys I can't begin to tell you how much I've been looking forward to this fishing season. Well, the weather here in the South has been so erratic that all my early season fishing plans have been washed, or shall I say blown away. We have experienced some of the worst flooding and destructive tornadoes in years here in Alabama. I like to think that this type of weather is a normal occurrence for this region, but year after year is too much to stomach. I can remember growing up as a young boy in Choctaw County Mississippi, near Mississippi State never witnessing a tornado. A little wind and heavy rain but never a severe tornado. We have already experienced 45 this season and may be on track to equal the 145 that hit the state in 2011. Of course, along with the tornados comes the heavy rains, flooding, destruction and we must not forget the loss of life occurring each time one of these monsters hits the state. I hate to be pessimistic but I feel we are going to witness even more destructive storms in the coming years. We can thank Climate Change for this misery!!

I have never seen Smith Lake this muddy with the lake at 522 ft. which is 22 ft. above full pool. Numerous piers broke free of their cables and floated south towards the dam. The entire parking lot and launches at Smith Lake Dam were completely underwater. The last time I've seen the lake this high was at 518 in February of 2019 but never at 522 height. There will be no productive fishing on the lake until the water recedes at least 10 to 12 ft and the water clears some. We are looking at weeks before this happens. I am thankful I have Walker Lake to fish because it never gets muddy. 
Another causality of the recent tornado we experienced this past Thursday was this house that Jason bought about three months ago in Greystone Farms. Cathey and I had been overseeing some work on the house before the tornado hit it. This house was lucky that its roof didn't collapse with this size tree landing on the roof. The base of the tree was at least 30 inches in diameter. He can be thankful that his house wasn't damaged as bad as a lot of the other homes in the subdivision. A lot of residents in Greystone lost everything including all their furniture. This one tornado stayed on the ground for an astounding 167 miles according to James Spann the main weatherman in Birmingham. He had heavy damage to his house. The tornado started in Columbia Alabama and ended in Rome Georgia. 
Even Jasons Alabama birdhouse which was setting on the top of this post wasn't spared the destructive winds. All the common areas along the street where Jason's house is was demolished. Some of the trees were spared but most huge trees were taken down. His house overlooks a 15-acre lake that had trees blown down in it. The mile and a half walking trail around the lake will be close until trees can be removed. One would never know there was a tornado by viewing the lake's southern end of the subdivision. Notice all the houses across the lake still intact. Funny how tornados miss some areas and destroy other areas. Cathey and I will be busy in the coming weeks dealing with storm damage and work on Jason's house. I hope to have a more favorable post soon involving landing some fish waiting to inhale a few flies. Everyone take care

Monday, March 1, 2021

My Second Home Lake

 This post was supposed to be about learning the Euro Nymph fishing technique fishing the Sipsey Tailrace. That trip got washed away with heavy generation occurring on the tailrace below the dam on Smith Lake. This time of the year is a tuff time to try to fish the tailrace or the lake because of generation. So I loaded the Pelican Boat in the back of my truck and headed for Walker Lake. I seldom fish this lake with my Bass Tracker because it's much easier to navigate the small nooks that make up the body of the lake. My fishing season always starts each year on Walker Lake because its waters warm up much quicker than a large lake the size of Smith. 

Cold and clear lake water was what I was going to be fishing for today. The water temp was 55 degrees, which is the coldest I've ever fished here. The county is still recovering from the 12 to 15-degree temps we experienced the week earlier. I knew today was going to be a challenge but I was up for the task and just glad to be on the water!
A quality bass on the Yellow Gant, which was the last one I had in my fly box. This fly brings back a lot of memories because it is a fly my brother, who passed away a couple of years ago had tied for him and me some years ago. He also had the same pattern tied in black and red. I've written posts concerning this fly over the years. I like to fish the Gnat using a slow retrieve while watching for line movement. Even in the cold water, this bass put up quite a fight against my 7 1/2 ft. Redington 2wt.
A better view of the fly with red added as an attractor. 
The bass and this Shellcracker are two fish I seldom catch on this lake, but today I got to touch both species. I got my best fight of the day from this fish. As quick as it hit the Gnat he headed for deep water making me think I had a large bass or one of the big carps that roam the lake. The poppers didn't work on this day all they wanted was something slow and easy to latch onto. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

A Little Frustration Mixed With Landing a Few Rainbows


I didn't think I was going to make the Sipsey trip today, because of numerous distractions in the form of few jobs. Once at the tailrace I suited up and enter the gorge at access 5. I was joined by 5 other fly fishermen fishing access six and seven. I was actually glad they were quite a distance from me because I was really having trouble learning the Euro Nymphing technique. I've been reading and watching videos centering around Euro Nymphing for the past couple of weeks and I thought I had the technique under control. After a few casts, I realize I need MORE time to learn how to master Euro Nymphing. I won't go into the details but to put it mildly, my patience ran OUT!! I will cover the experience in another post. 

There was no surface activity at all on the smooth super clear water surface. So I went deep for the trout today using my 10 ft. fly rod intended for the Euro experience----I found out it lands trout just as well as my 9 ft. 
The first trout that touched the net in the 2 1/2 hours I had to fish the Sipsey this afternoon.
An excellent seam located at the entrance of access five where I started my Euro Nymphing technique. I could see trout below the high boulder, but no luck in getting a take. The time spent in this area will hopefully help me correct some of my mistakes in future trips.
I've noticed that the stock trout from Dale Hollow are not as colorful as some of the other hatchery trout that are stocked here. There was no mistaking the takes from the trout I landed today, in other words, jarring hits!! 
The last trout of the evening that escaped an aerial attack or a down under creature swimming in the tailrace. It did have a little more color. I lost one other trout in the same run where I caught this trout. At times I was fishing with weights to get the nymphs down to the trout's level. 
I remember reading a short essay by George Daniel this week, where he stated that most of the time it's not the flies you are using that attract a take it's the depth you're fishing. That statement proved true for me this afternoon!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Finished Blog to Book!!

My blog to book project is finally finished.
 I started the project back in 2020 during some of the worst periods of this horrible virus we are dealing with. At the time Cathey and I were in complete lockdown only leaving the house when it was absolutely necessary. 
A big decision before starting the book was trying to decide which post to feature in the book which was time-consuming. I finally settled on 140 posts out of 587 posts to use in the book. I had a lot of time on my hands during the lockdown, so what a better time to work on this project.  

After countless hours of searching the internet and reading reviews of the different blog to book companies, I settled on blogtoprint.  I was impressed with how easy it was to personalize your book using the book content links featured in the companies software. Viewing a sample book to get some idea of how your book will look and easy communication with their tech support team was a big plus. I could go on and on about this company but showing you some of the image content, front and back covers says it all!

There are countless images to choose from for your soft or hardback covers on your book. Notice I used my favorite rock wall on Smith as my front image cover. The books come in different sizes, I choose the 8 1/2"X 11" the images are a little larger in that size. I was so impressed with the quality of all the images and how thick the pages were! 
Some of the companies I reviewed didn't have the ability to arrange the text with the images and make each page look exactly like the content in my blog. This company was able to accomplish that. 
This page is from one of the 10 photo pages I created in the back of the book. You can use different templates to arrange images to fit two to four images per page. I never realized I had the number of images throughout the blog spanning eleven years. Seeing these images and reading some of my posts eleven years ago really brought back some fond memories. 
I am glad I did the book because our blogs are not guaranteed to stay on the internet forever. An example of what I am referring to is my Ancestry book I created through a book company linked with Ancestry some years ago. Two weeks ago it was lost when the book company was sold to another company. This incident made me glad I had created a written copy of the online book right after I finished my Ancestry research. 
I know I will continue to blog but these 140 posts in this book will be hard for me to duplicate in years to come. In other words, these posts in this book are the heart and soul of Fishing Through Life. Like most other bloggers, you have noticed blogging is not what it once was when a lot of us started. But, with that said I still like to communicate with fly fishermen through my blog and as I get older it helps me stay engaged and also keeps the mind active.  I hope everyone continues to stay SAFE!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Laelyn and Bryson Learning How to use the Fly Rod

 Cathey and I spent a few days this past week visiting B.T. Jenny and the grandchildren in Springhill, Tennessee. I've been carrying a couple of my fly rods along on some of the trips to teach Laelyn and Bryson how to use the fly rod. Both are making progress with their casting and placement of the fly, starting with a short cast and adding distance as they get accustomed to the feel of the reel and rod. I am hoping they will be ready by late Spring to land a few bluegills in a park pond located near our home. We're going to use the pond to learn how to play a fish and land it. Hopefully, by the time they visit in the Summer, they will be ready to fish Smith from the boat. We are looking forward to seeing them land some of the Spotted Bass that roam the waters of Smith, which should merit their fly fishing diploma. I thought I would share some of their progress this past week. Their younger brother, Cash is still a work in progress??

I hope Cash can use the fly rod soon as well as he plays flag football. He is their scat-back and the fastest player on his team. No 25

I have given this 2wt. 7 1/2 ft. Redingon Trout Classic fly rod and Orvis 2/3 wt fly reel to Laelyn, but there are rules that come with the gift. She can only use it when she is with her Dad or me and the fly rod stays at Meme and Pops house until I feel she is big enough to take care of the combo. The same rules apply to Bryson as well. 
This is Bryson's 3 wt paired with the older version of the 3wt. Orvis reel. The fly rod is the Redington Trout Classic 7 1/2 ft.-----We're all looking forward to the start of the season, which is getting closer by the day! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Finally Back on the Sipsey

Tuesday and Thursday are my fishing days either on Smith Lake or the Sipsey. I was surprised when I pulled into the parking lot and saw only 4 vehicles. The last time I witnessed this amount of traffic on the Sipsey was back before the virus hit. 

I always rig my fly rod the night before with the flies I think the trout will take. After 30 minutes with no takes on a tandem nymph set-up I tied on one of Alans Soft Hackles

 The first trout of the morning to get things started on a slow day fishing clear blue skies.

One of many runs I fished during the outing. Dead drifting a couple of fly patterns got numerous takes. I lost twice as many trout as I landed because of fly rod selection today. I should have been fishing my 4wt. instead of the 3wt. 

I've landed trout with damaged gill plates before here, could be biting each other in the small tank they are transferred in to reach the tailrace. 
My lunch seat to enjoy my wheat crackers, without my after-lunch coffee.  
My last trout for the trip, fishing the fast deep waters around the numerous sunken logs between access five and access six. This trout had numerous scars on its sides. It looks like a Stripped Bass went after it for a meal. All the trout taken today were Dale Hollow hatchery trout in the 10--11-inch range. 
I hope all you guys have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  

Friday, December 4, 2020

My Favorite Fishing Areas on Beautiful Smith Lake

 I have spent the last few days finishing my blog to book project and have it ready to send to the printers. While working on this project I scanned through hundreds and hundreds of images that were used in all my posts I used for the past 11 years. Of course, the fish images always stand out, but the ones that really got my attention were the awesome rock formations that formed the rock walls on Smith Lake. The following images are some of my favorite walls that make fishing this beautiful lake so special aside from landing those fighting spotted bass! 

A hit could occur anywhere along this wall simply because of the shade. The prime area is the fallen tree. The closer you can place the popper to the prongs submerged in the water the better chance you have to get a hit. 
I have landed numbers of big bluegill off this wall, very few bass were taken here. I kept wondering why all the bluegills. Well with the lake down over 10 ft. last fall I discovered the reason for the bluegill; sandy bottom. Bluegill gathers on sandy bottoms, especially during spawning season. 
One would think with the air deck, monorail, and long ramp leading to a huge double floating boathouse and pier----these individuals would fish just a little. No such luck, they are leaving all the bluegill and spotted bass to the rest of us. I will gladly help them thin the fish species. 
This wall is by far the most spectacular of all the rock walls I fish on this lake. I am amazed at how the trees grow and flourish in the cracks of the huge boulders. The fallen trees and hidden boulders submerged just below the surface are prime real estate for spotted bass and huge bluegills. This wall is loaded with submerged boulders.
This wall is a favorite of the crappie fishermen on the lake, because of the amount of brush they have dropped along its base. The brush attracts huge bluegill and nice spots in the summer months. The shad gather around the brush early and late and a cream-colored popper or cream streamer will produce some savage hits. 
This is the shelf wall because at its base it has a unique feature that the rest doesn't have; a shallow shelf running along its base. Bass gather in the shallow edges at daylight to chase and gorge on the shad. Place a cream popper or cream streamer anywhere near the wall at daylight or late afternoon and watch it get taken!!
Low walls can produce fish as well as spectacular ones. In the case of this wall, most of it is located beneath the waterline. Twenty-five to forty feet depths is hidden off the edge of this particular wall. I have landed more bass on this wall as opposed to bluegill. 
A prime area in the springtime. Place a tiny popper under the overhanging trees and expect a hit from bluegill. Areas like this are where the large bluegill select to spawn. Bluegill on Smith spawns in water 6 to 8 ft. deep in the super clear water. A good pair of polarized glasses will help locate the beds.
The closer one can place a fly in the split area on this wall the better chance you have to attract a take. I always have one fly rod rigged with a furled leader. The limp action of this leader, as opposed to the mono leader, make it easier to maneuver a fly or popper in the crack openings along this wall. Making a low side cast will place a popper under the wall overhangs. I've landed numerous bluegill and bass by letting the popper sit motionless under wall overhangs. As most of you know I like to make numerous runs up and down all the walls I fish on Smith. By making numerous runs you cover the area on the wall much better. In other words, each wall has fish moving in and out of its shadows all day; an endless supply of fish. 
This overhang is one of the best I fish. Placing a muddler minnow or popper right against the back area of the overhang will produce. Patience is the key when fishing all the walls. Let the popper work its magic by letting it sit and get the attention of the fish before you ever move it. Overcast days are the most productive when fishing surface flies on Smith. Cloud cover hiding the sun enables me to fish the same walls two or three times during a trip. 
Some of the walls have nooks that will always produce fish. I wish I had some of this fern around my house. The moisture released in the cracks of this wall keeps the fern leafy and green all summer until frost. This area is another place that fly placement is so important. The closer you can get the popper or fly near the wall or under the overhanging limbs the better chance you have to land monster bluegill or spotted bass. 
Smith Lake has the luxury of being one of the deepest lakes in the south. Standing timber was submerged when the lake was flooded, which is an excellent habitat for all the fish species that live in its waters. The heavy boat traffic helps to keep the lake well oxidized and the super clear water proves that it's one of the cleanest lakes in the south. Of all the lakes I've fished in my life, Smith has to be the most beautiful. Why go anywhere else to fish when one has a lake like Smith to fish?