Monthly Archives: September 2018

Tough Times At Bartletts Ferry

Last Saturday 14 members of the Potato Creek Bass Club fished our September tournament at Bartletts Ferry Lake. We landed 23 spotted and largemouth bass. There were no limits and five people did not have a 12-inch keeper after casting for seven hours.

William Scott won with four keepers weighing 5.22 pounds and I was a very close second with four weighing 5.21 pounds. But my 2.15 pound largemouth was big fish, beating William’s biggest fish by the same amount, only .01 pounds! Kwong Yu placed third with three at 3.81 pounds and Donnie Willis was fourth with two weighing 3.31 pounds.

I was surprised when I got near the ramp. Folks were backed up 200 yards from the boat ramp entrance, waiting to put in. We found out there were at least three other clubs taking off at about the same time as us.

Kwong and Zero both offered to help me get my boat in the water since I was by myself. That is the way it is in bass clubs, we try to help each other. Even nicer, Kwong kept my keys until that afternoon. As I pulled into the cove to take out, he saw me and had my trailer in the water by the time I got to the ramp.

That morning I should have known better to start right at the ramp, but there is a security light on the bank in front of a nearby house, and I can almost always catch a fish or two before the sun gets bright. It is a very shallow bank and so many boats ran by it when they took off that big waves washed it. I never got a bite.

I had a plan. My next stop was a deep bank that stays shady most of the morning. But there was another boat on it. Same for the third place I wanted to fish. So I stopped on a point I had not planned to fish. At 8:00 I caught two short spots on it.

Since the lake was crowded I decided to stay on that point longer than I normally would have, and it paid off with a keeper spot at 8:20. At 8:40 I cast to some deep brush on the side of the point and caught another keeper spot, this one a little bigger.

At 9:00 another cast to that brush got a hit. When I set the hook, the fish was tangled in the brush. After sawing it back and fourth a couple of times it locked down tight, a bad sign. As long as I can feel the tangled fish moving I have hope it will come out but when it does not move it usually means the line is wrapped around limbs.

As I eased the boat directly over the brush the fish suddenly came free and started fighting. I was worried since I knew my line had to be frayed. But I managed to get the fish to the boat and net it. It was the 2.15 pounder that turned out to be big fish and I guess it was one just meant to get caught.

For the next four hours I fished several places, often pulling in as another boat left. I did catch one short spot and lost a fish I did not see on dropshot in deep brush.

With an hour left to fish I went back where I had caught my first three but got no bites. I remembered some brush on a nearby point and stopped on it with about ten minutes to fish. I needed to leave at 1:50 to get in on time and at 1:49 caught my fourth fish out of the brush. All four keepers hit a shaky head worm.

I am glad the water is cooling and fishing should get better soon!

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me:

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 9/22/18

I believe we have reached the prime time for the frog bite, its good, there’s grass-mat activity
and there are enough opportunities to feel comfortable that you can catch fish and get
enough blow-ups to make a day of it. We had several good solid 5 to 6-pound fish strike our
frogs adding to the fact that it is time to focus on the frog bite.

Add a few more baits to the arsenal besides the SPRO frog, Picasso buzz baits, Missile Bait 48
stick baits and Tight-Line swim jigs and you can address all the patterns we found fish on this
past week. Once you get off the mats the ideal depth was about 8 to 10 ft. looking for active
chasing and working the bait fish. We’re going to see some rain and cooling temperatures this
next 10 days and it should really put a positive stamp on the rest of the fall fishing.

Come fish with me no one will treat you better or work harder to see you have a great day on
the water. I have guides and days available all fall, and we’d love to take you fishing. We fish
with great sponsor products, Lowrance Electronics, Vicious Fishing, Duckett Fishing, T&H
marine products, Boat Logix mounts, Navionics mapping and more.

If you have been calling me asking is it time for the frog bite, call me and get your date
booked; it’s time!

Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

St. Croix Mojo Jig Series Tackle

Power Up for Bottom Brutes with St. Croix Mojo Jig Series Tackle

Bottom fishing success requires more than heavy gear

By Joe Balog
from The Fishing Wire

Big red on St Croix rod

What kind of fish breaks eighty-pound line?

I asked myself that question repeatedly as I rigged my bottom-fishing rod. For the third time in twenty minutes, I had my butt kicked by a fish that I falsely assumed would be no match for my heavy tackle. This was starting to get old.

A freshwater transplant, I had dipped my toe into the saltwater world after relocating to Florida and purchasing a beauty of a bay boat. Fish tacos and snapper ceviche were soon to be on the menu, or so I thought. Yet, after nearly a full day of fishing, all I had in the fish box was one small triggerfish.

Photo courtesy of St, Croix Rod
For the first time in several years, the waters off the East Coast of Florida were hosting a red snapper season, and I planned to get my share of the now plentiful fish. The problem was, I couldn’t get them in the boat.

Dejected, I went home a lot lighter on sinkers; but no less determined.

That evening, I went through my gear. Hooks were stout and sharp, offering no flex, and my line was the heaviest I could find. Sinkers, swivels, knots – everything terminal was flawless. Going one step further, I studied my rods and reels.

Previously, I upgraded to St. Croix’s Mojo Jig series (Conventional and Spinning) for this style of fishing, and paired them with heavy-duty reels. Remarkably stout despite their light weight, I was certain the Mojos could handle anything a snapper could throw their way. I later learned they could, if I knew how to use them.

The following day again found me on the snapper grounds, accompanied by my wife, Kim, and friends. The bite was on, and Kim quickly hooked up. Her drag screamed as a big fish surged for the bottom. Immediately upon reaching it, Kim’s line broke. Disappointment again filled the boat.

Upon inspection of the heavy line, I found it cleanly sliced in two, as if by a pair of shears. Then, it dawned on me.

I quickly grabbed my rod, cranked the drag down as tight as it would go, and dropped down a fresh pinfish. Handing it off the Kim, I could see an instant strike. “Let him have it a minute, then wind as hard as you can,” I instructed. “And, whatever you do, don’t let him get back to the bottom.”

Kim grunted under the strain of the heavy fish. Playing it like a pro, she pressed her tackle to the max. When the big fish surged, Kim pulled back twice as hard. I added a third hand for even more leverage. To our delight, the fifteen-pound red snapper soon surfaced, was quickly netted, and hit the fish box flopping.

Again inspecting the line, I found it as perfect as when I tied it. We were on to something.

For the remainder of the day, and throughout the weekend, we would boat nearly every red snapper we hooked from that point on. Ten, fifteen, even twenty-pound fish came over the gunnels at a regular rate.

Reflecting, my lack of saltwater experience was to blame for our initial break-offs. Sure, I’d fished around line-shredding structures in freshwater; docks and rocks, for example. But nothing could prepare me for the damage inflicted by a sharp ocean reef.

Photo courtesy of St. Croix Rod
When fishing such structures, it’s absolutely imperative to win the first twenty seconds of the fight. Grouper and snapper instinctively know that, when in trouble, their best chance is to get to the bottom. It’s incredible how hard even a moderate-sized ocean dweller can pull when compared to a freshwater fish; a life in heavy ocean currents adding to their stamina.

Since my inaugural trip, I’ve used the Mojo Jig series to wrestle some real brutes from the depths below. Like all St. Croix rods, technology is at the forefront in this series, as they’re built using Advanced Reinforcing Technology; a carbon fiber material that adds incredible strength to the rod by keeping it true to form under the heaviest strain.

I’ve found the conventional Mojo Jig models to be perfect (I can’t get away from my 5’8” extra-heavy no matter what I’m fishing for), but Kim prefers the spinning models. She finds that, with her size and body frame, she gets more leverage by having the rod under her forearm when horsing a strong fish.

In any case, mark my words: the first twenty seconds is the key. Remember that, and you’ll save a bundle on sinkers.

Tough Fishing At West Point

Last Sunday six members and guests of the Flint River Bass Club fished our September tournament at West Point. We brought three 12-inch keeper spots and one 14-inch keeper largemouth to the scales after eight hours of casting. There were no limits and two folks zeroed.

Alex Gober won and had big fish with the only largemouth weighing 3.27 pounds. Brent Drake was second with one at 1.50, Don Gober was third with one weighing 1.11 and my barely keeper spot weighing .92 was fourth.

I had hopes of catching a few fish and started on the point where Zack Presley and I had both caught keeper largemouth two weeks ago in the Sportsman Club tournament. We had also both missed fish on topwater lures there, too. After two hours and a variety of baits, I never got a bite.

My second stop was a point where I had caught two keeper spots and lost one in the last tournament, but I never got a bite there, either. At 10:30 I was on another point and got a bite on a shaky head worm. It didn’t fight much so I thought it was a small spot, but as I lifted it out of the water I saw it was a keeper.

I watched as it came off the hook, hit the windshield, flopped on the deck then went back into the water. The next two casts to the same brush produced bites and I landed both, but they were not keepers. The fish were hitting strangely, especially for spots. I never felt a hit, my line just started coming toward the boat.

After 30 minutes casting to the same place with the same bait I got a similar bite, set the hook and landed my only keeper. I stayed there another hour but got no more bites of any kind. I guess I used up that point!

Although fish were swirling around me, hitting shad on top, I never got a bite the rest of the day on a variety of places I tried. I think they were small spots and hybrids but could not get them to hit.

I was just happy to be fishing!

Rio Grande Cutthroat

Chasing the Rio Grande Cutthroat
Craig Springer
from The Fishing Wire

Beautiful cutthroat stream

From nearly anywhere in my Santa Fe County home, I have the most fortunate view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It’s where the Rockies start in New Mexico. As I write this, a towering anvil-headed September storm cloud turns the color of a watermelon above Santa Fe Baldy and Hamilton Mesa as the day melts into night.

The moisture wrung out of this moving painting strikes the mountain slopes, softened by pines and firs and spruce trees, and funnels through granite crevices as it pours downhill. The rain consolidates into rivulets and then into “ritos” with names like Azul, Padre and Valdes. These rills will soon beget the Pecos proper, but before they do, their waters stall in dark pools under the cooling shade of alder trees and become habitat for Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

The Rio Grande cutthroat trout is named for the splash of crimson below its gills. In the spring of the year, the spawning males are awash in red over their head and chest. It’s stunning, as if they are soaked in blood.

Under these September clouds, the fish lie there in pools under the shadows of ponderosas that have fallen into the stream or on the edge of a boulder in an eddy where the water is slowed, waiting for a grasshopper or mayfly or a moth to flit too close to the water.

With a dart and roll, a bug becomes food. That is unless that bug is a look-alike, mere fur and feathers adorning on a tiny hook. A tug and a splash, and in a moment I can see my reflection on a trout’s shimmering flank and feel its cold muscles writhing in my wet hand as its slips back into the water with a parting flip of its spotted tail.

Outwitting cutthroat trout in the high country, especially with my children, is among my most favorite pastimes. Never do I feel more alive; I’m a participant in nature, not merely an observer. These tiny streams bordered by brush and boulder require stealth, concentration and resolve. The experience hones your senses and is head-clearing, like floss for your psyche.

It’s physically demanding, too. A friend of mine likened fishing cutthroat waters to doing yoga while casting. The cutthroat streams in the upper Pecos as elsewhere in northern New Mexico are typically small and not well visited. That is, you might be making your own trail over deadfall and boulders and through patches of wild raspberries, which are appropriately colored like a trout’s throat.

The trout don’t grow large in small waters, but still, when I catch a cutthroat I feel like a man who just found money. Rio Grande cutthroat trout live is pretty places and the Sangres are among the prettiest of mountains. Each fish is uniquely adorned with a constellation of spots that no other will have, lying on a background from a pallet of paint borrowed from a late-summer sunrise accessorized with last night’s left-over tattered clouds.

The Rio Grande cutthroat trout is the official state fish of New Mexico and holds the distinction of being the first trout documented in the New World. In 1541, as the Coronado’s entrada passed near Pecos, one chronicler noted “truchas” swimming about.

I’m A Climate Change Skeptic

Here we go again.

As soon as Hurricane Florence started looking like a major storm, the global warming fanatics started their usual mantra that their favorite belief would mean more, bigger, stronger, fatter, terrible hurricanes every year unless we immediately change our lifestyles and spend massive amounts of other peoples’ money.

Those true believers just make themselves look even more silly by such hyperbole but they do it every time. Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Those exact same claims were made then. But there was not another major hurricane that hit the US for seven years, until Hurricane Sandy hit us in 2012. They again started their claims after Sandy.

Those fanatics claim folks like me are “skeptics,” and seem to want us treated like the Catholic church treated heretics in the middle ages. They say we must accept their version of science, but they ignore anything scientific that disagrees with their belief and condemn those that point this out.

A simple Google search shows hurricanes have actually decreased over the past 100 years, and that is with better observation and reporting availability. There are all kinds of data out there, interpreted in many different ways. But one chart, showing hurricanes striking the US by decade, shows fewer since 1950 than in any other time since 1850. Others show the same thing, with major hurricanes coming in groups, with four to six years between cycles.

Al Gore predicted Lower Manhattan would be under water by 2015. ABC “News” in 2008 repeated that claim and also said gas would cost more than $9 a gallon and milk $13 a gallon by 2015, all due to global warming.

In his doomsday movie “An Incontinent Truth,” Gore showed a glacier calving and used it to show how glaciers were rapidly retreating now due to global warming. I have been to that glacier in Glacier National Park and watched it calve. The naturalists on board told us that glacier had retreated 110 miles in the past 100 years, the fastest retreat taking place between 1860 and 1870. I guess it was all those civil war SUVs!

Last week the weather guessers said no chance of rain Sunday during the Flint River tournament at West Point. Around noon it poured so hard my bilge pumps came on. Another afternoon this past week
I took a picture of water flooding off my roof while looking at the “prediction” of zero chance of rain for at least the next six hours.

Yet those same folks that can’t look outside and tell if it is raining try to make us believe they can predict two tenths of a degree temperature increase 100 years from now.

I wish I still had the paper I had to write in 1975 for an Environmental Science class I took while working on my first Masters Degree. “Settled” science at that time proved we were entering a new ice age, due to man’s activities. The cure? You guessed it. Same as now, change our lifestyle drastically and spend lots of other people’s money.

I have seen a lot of weather changes over my life. But I have not lived long enough to see climate change, it takes place over thousands of years.

Hurricanes are destructive and dangerous. Weather can kill you. We should take its dangers seriously, but weather is a short-term event and it does change drastically day to day and year to year.

I will remain a climate change “skeptic.” I hope it does not reach the point where the true believers burn me at the stake for disagreeing with them.

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Relocates Tarpon

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Relocates Tarpon Ahead of Development
from The Fishing Wire

Netting tarpon and bonefish for relocation

Three weeks ago, BTT was contacted by a group of concerned anglers regarding a development site in Tarpon Springs, FL that was inhabited by tarpon of all sizes. Most of these anglers had been fishing there for years, even decades. The water was being drained rapidly, which meant we had to act fast. After a few phone calls, we were able to contact the developer and their client to get permission to access the property and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued us a permit to relocate the fish. After a grueling day of seining and cast-netting in the waist-deep mud and silt, we were able to relocate over 60 tarpon ranging from 12 to 40 inches. A huge success!

This is not a typical practice for BTT, but it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Our studies in Southwest Florida are finding that tarpon in degraded habitats like these exhibit poor growth rates and can sometimes get trapped in these types of habitats that are hard to emigrate from once they get bigger. We are also finding that the majority of juvenile tarpon sites reported to us through our Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Mapping Project are in degraded habitats (golf course ponds, residential communities, mosquito impoundments). The misconception is that because tarpon are there, it must be good habitat. This is not always the case and does not bode well for the future of the tarpon fishery. This particular site had already been developed into a mobile home park, and with a lengthy culvert connection from the Gulf, could have trapped these tarpon for years. Relocation was the best chance for these fish to join the tarpon population.

We are very grateful for the site supervisor’s constant communication and encouragement during this project. Because of the thick mud, we relied on the pumps to lower the water level so that we could more easily access the fish. A huge thanks to the anglers that have been watching this site for years and took immediate action. This would not have happened without your persistence and compassion. We’d also like to thank FWC for their swift action and the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center for use of their seine net.

Photos courtesy of Randy Whitehead

See more from BT&T at

Catch and Release Fishing

To Keep or To Release?
From the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
from the Fishing Wire

Releasing Trout

If you’re fishing in a catch-and-release-only water body, the decision has been made for you; all fish must be released promptly. But otherwise, you can decide which legally harvestable fish to keep for consumption, which to release, and how to conduct either activity. Many fishing regulations are designed to improve fish growth and size quality, and they are only successful if fish are harvested by anglers. A lack of harvest can cause fish to stunt and not grow. Either way, it’s your job to bring a humane approach to the table. If you decide to release your catch, the following tips will help result in a successful release.

How to safely catch and release

By carefully following these simple instructions, you can release your fish unharmed. If you enjoyed catching your fish, so will the next angler!

Time is of the essence. Play and release the fish as quickly and carefully as possible. An exhausted fish may be too weak to recover. Do not overplay your fish.
Keep the fish in the water. Minimize or eliminate the time your fish is out of the water. As little as 30 seconds of air exposure can cause delayed mortality of released trout, and in the winter months the fish may be subject to a quick freeze.

Wet your hands when handling the fish. Dry hands can remove the layer of slime that protects the fish from fungi, bacteria, and parasites.

Photograph responsibly. Photo sessions can be stressful for a fish. Prepare for the photo with your fish safely under the water surface, and only lift the fish out of the water for 5 second intervals or less. Try to get the shot (within reason), but return your fish to the water for a rest between attempts.

Be gentle. Keep your fingers away from the gills, don’t squeeze the fish, and never drag a fish onto the bank.

Choose the right landing net. Rubber nets are easier on fish than traditional twine nets.

Safely remove the hook with small pliers or a similar tool. If the hook is deeply embedded or in a sensitive area such as the gills or stomach, cut the leader close to the snout. Make an effort to use regular steel (bronzed) hooks to promote early disintegration. Avoid the use of stainless hooks. One way to release your fish quickly is to use barbless hooks. If barbed hooks are all you have, you can bend the barbs over or simply file them off.

Neutralize the pressure. The air bladders of togue (lake trout) often expand after being pulled up rapidly from deep water. If a togue’s belly appears expanded, release it from the hook first, then gently press your thumb along the stomach near the paired belly fins and move it forward a few times to release the air before releasing the fish.

Revive the fish. Hold the fish underwater in a swimming position until it can swim away (note: do not use this method if surface water temperatures are unusually warm).
Follow these simple basics and most of the fish you put back into the water will be there for you to try to catch next time.

Tying Good Knots

Good Knots are Key to Great Catches
By Ben Secrest, Accurate Fishing
from The Fishing Wire

Yellowfin Tuna

The right knots help land fish of a lifetime. This 256 lb. yellowfin is the perfect example for Team Accurate.

The attention to detail in daily life helps all of us moving forward to succeed in obstacles we face everyday. The whole adventure of fishing is based on some details that once summed up can lead to successfully landing or losing the fish of a lifetime.

One extremely important part of everyday fishing is being able to tie knots that will withstand the test of a gamefish during the heat of a lengthy battle. We wanted to show you some basic knots that will help you during your fishing adventures no matter if its at the lake, inshore along the coast or targeting larger gamefish offshore. Many of the knots are common in all fishing circles from super light line to heavy duty offshore fishing–they are proven. Here are some of the well known knots that you should become familiar with for your time on the water.

Clinch Knot

Clinch Knot is used to tie a hook, swivel, or lure onto your line. This clinch has been a staple knot among salt and freshwater anglers for years. This knot will work on monofilament or braided lines. When tying the knot make sure you cinch it tight using water or saliva to avoid any friction on the line. Tie the knot correctly and make sure you cinch it down by pulling securely on the running line. Once cinched then trim tag end.

Parlomor Knot

Palomar knot Palomar has been a very popular knot among fishermen for securing their line to a hook. Its a very easy knot to tie and extremely strong. This knot works very well with monofilament and braid. There are variations of this knot out there and all work well if tied properly. Again lubricating the mono line helps reduce friction and it is extremely important to cinch the knot and trim tag end after.


UniKnot is well proven in all circles as easy to tie and can be used with heavier test line. This knot has been a main stay of lots of anglers including myself. I use it to tie on hooks, lures, swivels, and pretty much anything that requires a sound knot. When using lighter line I double the line through the eye of the hook and then tie a uniknot which gives you more strength at the eye of the hook. The thing about a unknot is when it cinches down right it’s square on the hook. Very solid.

Loop Knot

Loop knot is a popular knot among the artificial plug fishermen where a loop on the lure will elicit more action in the lure during certain retrieves. These knots are good but the thing to remember if you are going to fight gamefish for any length of time is that the loose line of the loop on the eye of the bait will wear overtime and often break. Catch a couple fish and check it for any frays to make sure you are solid.

Surgeon Knot

Surgeons Knot is a double line knot for anglers looking for double the strength of their line or knots. It is also used to attach double line leaders. People use the bimini knot or the surgeons loop to attach leaders loop to loop. Very important to cinch it square or it will wear on itself.

Double Uniknot

Double Uniknot is one of the easy knots to tie and extremely reliable from two pound test to 100 lb. Its easy to tie and has a higher breaking strength versus others. This knot is used to tie leader onto your main line or to join two lines. It is a little bulkier going through the guides but is a proven performer for fishermen around the globe.

Albright Knot

Improved Albright Knot is another knot for connecting two lines, running line to leader, that works perfect with mono, floro, or braid. This is a strong knot and very compact so it travels through the guides easier. We have used this knot for years for tying 30lb mono and to 100 to 150 lb leader material for casting rigs for stripe marlin here on the west coast. Fairly easy knot to tie once you practice it but like any knot make sure it is cinched prior to trimming any tag lines. The braid to floro leader works like magic. Remember with braid take more wraps so the knot lays right.

Pena Knot

Tony Pena Knot works very well with mono to mono but it is the strongest of the knots we use for braid to mono/floro connections for poppers, surface lures, and baits for larger tunas. It is a very basic knot and probably the strongest we have used for leader to braid connection. With smaller lines we tie a 2 to 3 turn uni-knot for the overhand knot then ten up and ten back with the braid then through the loop. These knots push against each other when cinching and square up nicely. The knot goes through the guides well and is very easy to cast with minimal hang up in the guides. We have tied this knot exclusively for the last few years for our popper rigs with conventional gig with 65 or 80 lb braid to 100 or 130 lb floro leader. Very strong, dependable knot when tied correctly and fully cinched. Proven with the west coast tuna guys.

All these knots have good ratings among anglers. Whatever you have the most confidence in tie. I have been tying the same knots for years and I have changed a couple knots along the way. Key to any knot is tie it correctly and most important thing is lubricate your line, cinch your knot, then trim tag end. Never trim the tag end until you cinch your knot. The knot is the very base to be successful catching fish. To be good at anything, you need to practice what is involved. Its the same with tying knots. While watching TV practice your knots. Get them right and they will help you produce that fish of a lifetime

Team Accurate
By Ben Secrest|

Fly Fishing the Smokies

Tips on Fly Fishing the Smokies
By Byron Begley
Little River Outfitters
from The Fishing Wire

Trout Stream

I started fishing in the Smokies in the 1960’s but I used a spinning rod. I fly fished at the time but I didn’t know how to flyfish in moving water. In the early 1980’s I started traveling to Townsend to fly fish. At the time I lived in Nashville, Tennessee. I had been to Yellowstone and other states to fish and had some success but fly fishing in the Smokies was different and I felt it was much harder. Finally, after several trips here I started to catch a few trout. I moved to Townsend in the early 90’s, married my wife Paula and we bought Little River Outfitters. By hanging around with people like Walter Babb, Brian Courtney and Jack Gregory I learned how this is done and I sometimes forget how hard it was at first to catch trout on a fly here in the Smokies.

Trout that live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are wild. They were born in these streams. Their parents and grandparents were born in these streams. The National Park Service ceased stocking trout in the early 1970’s. An occasional stocked trout may venture into the park from surrounding stocked streams but for the most part, these fish are wild.

The following tips are for those of you who find yourself in the same situation I was in or it’s for those who have forgotten some of the subtle tricks to succeed. If you can catch trout on a fly here in the Smokies, you can catch them anywhere.

1. If the trout sees you or your shadow he probably can’t be caught. These trout are wild and survived because they are wary. I think a wary fish is that way because of a genetic trait that is passed on by the trout’s parents. If a trout is not wary, it will be eaten by a bird, otter, a larger trout or another predator and will not reach sexual maturity. So, in other words, an un-wary fish does not pass on un-wary traits. The gene pool that is left is made up of trout who are all scared to death of everything, including you. I noticed years ago that these mountain fly fishermen who knew what they were doing all dressed alike. They wore dark clothing (usually green) and many wore camoflage clothing. That seemed odd to me because I never saw anyone wearing camo in the Orvis Catalog. I also noticed a lot of anglers fly fishing on their knees, not standing up in the middle of the stream. I saw them hiding behind rocks and trees and sometimes almost crawling to move up to the next run. I believe that if a trout here in the Smokies sees anything unusual their immediate reaction is to run through the pool or riffle and alert every other trout in their view that something is wrong.

2. If your fly doesn’t move at the same rate as the current it’s in you probably won’t catch a trout. Think about this: A trout usually stays in a small area all day watching things flow past them in the current. It may be sticks, leaves, nymphs, adult aquatic insects, cigarette butts and little bits of everything you can imagine. These things all have one thing in common. They are moving at the same rate of speed as the current. Now, here comes your Parachute Adams but the current next to the current your fish is in is faster and your line and leader are in that current. It will pull your fly, either faster or slower than the current it is in. That is called drag. These trout who are all scared to death of anything unusual are probably not going to eat your Parachute Adams. There are exceptions to this. They may think your fly is a caddis that is jumping around laying eggs or some other movement made by insects. But don’t count on that. Make your fly drift with the speed of the current and you will catch more trout. You are going to get drag all day on many casts but the longer your fly can drift with the current the better your chances are of connecting with a trout. Sometimes in certain spots where you know there is a trout you can be successful if you get a good drift for only a foot or so. So how do you get a good drift?

A. Make short casts. Stay hidden of course and don’t spook the fish but short casts have a much better chance of offering a drag free drift. The reason is, the more line you have on the water the more conflicting currents are there to grab your line and drag your fly. Most trout are caught here in the Smokies by making 15′ to 20′ casts. Many are caught make casts shorter than that.

B. Keep as much fly line off the water or even keep it all off the water. You can make a short cast and lift your rod as the fly floats back toward you keeping the line off the water. You can make casts across a current and by keeping your rod high hold the line and some of the leader off the water allowing your fly to drift in the current it is in. If you look across the creek you will see several different current speeds. Some are slow because they have been in contact with a large boulder. Some are slow because they are moving over a shallow gravel bar. Some are fast because there has been no interuption in their flow for a while. Some are slow because there is a backup in a small pool. These currents are varied throughout the stream. Your job is to keep your fly moving in the current that it’s in at that speed for as long as you can.

C. Mend your line. As you fly is moving down it’s current and you see that it is about to drag because your fly line is in a faster or slower current you can move your line or mend it by moving it into another current or throwing it upstream to give your fly a chance to drift naturally for a few more seconds. This can all be done without moving the fly. This takes practice and the ability to mend you line well makes you a much better fly fisherman.

3. If the trout sees your fly line or leader you probably won’t catch the trout. Don’t cast your fly line over a good looking spot. If you think you see a place where a trout should be don’t let your fly line float over that spot. In fact, don’t let your fly line go over that spot while false casting in the air. Get your fly and leader in that spot first. If after a couple of casts you don’t get a strike, cast further to another promising spot. If you make long casts you might be spooking trout that you would otherwise catch if you were sneaky and could make a short cast to them. If you see a lot of good holding spots for trout start casting to the closer ones first. If you don’t connect, cast to the spots you see that are further away. Move a little closer if you can, stay low, hide behind a boulder and just let them see your fly and tippet.

4. If you are wading where the fish are and casting where they are not, you probably won’t catch a trout. Before you wade into a stream look at the water and think about it first. Where would the trout be? How can I get a drift to them? Where can I hide from them? Maybe I don’t have to wade at all. That would be better. All of these decisions can cause success or failure. In any riffle, run or pool there are good spots for fish to hide and there are places where no wild trout would venture. Remember, these guys are afraid of everything. Try to wade as little as possible. Of course you need to wade from one side of the stream to the other every once in a while. But the less time you spend in the water the more trout you will catch. You will also need to learn to cast side arm to your right side and your left side. It takes practice for a right handed caster to make a side arm cast over your left side but that’s something you’ll need to learn to do. That way you can spend more time on one side of the stream without moving over to the other side and spooking the trout you are trying to catch.

5. If the water temperature is too cold or too warm you probably won’t catch a trout. Trout love temperatures in the 50 degree to 60 degree range. If the temperature is 40 degrees they don’t feed as much because their metabolism slows down. The same is true if the water reaches say, 70 degrees. Also, the warmer the water is the lower the disolved oxygen content is. When the water warms and the oxygen is low the trout become sluggish or even die. So, what can you do about the water temperature? Well, nothing. But you can move to an area where the water is more trout tolerant. In the winter or early spring the water is warmer in the lower elevation streams. The air temperature is colder high in the mountains and warmer in the valleys. If you are fishing at Elkmont and the water is 40 degrees and you aren’t catching anything, move to the West Prong, Lower East Prong or the Middle Prong where the water is warmer. You can also fish the sunny spots where the water is somewhat warmer. During the cold months you will probably have better luck in the middle of the day when the water is warmer. It’s all different in the summer. The water is cooler in the mornings and evenings. During midday when the water warms the trout will turn off. So fish early and late. You can also fish in the higher elevation streams during the warm months or find a stream that has a lot of springs feeding them. A good example is Abrams Creek in Cades Cove. There are some large springs there that keep the stream cooler than some other streams in the area.

6. Which fly you use is not nearly as important as the above five reasons for success or failure. In the spring our first mayfly hatches are Quill Gordons and Blue Quills. Blue Wing Olives are usually hatching at that time also. Because the trout are not used to feeding on the surface as much during the winter they begin to look up when these flies start hatching. Having a fly that looks somewhat like these insects can be important. During a large hatch the trout can become selective and concentrate their efforts on that source of food. As we move further into Spring there is a more diverse selection of insects to feed on. The colors of the mayflies become lighter. Hendricksons and March Browns hatch, then later we get the very light mayflies – Light Cahills. In the summer we get a lot of small yellow stoneflies. We call them Yellow Sallies. Terrestrial insects such as ants, beetles and inchworms become a reliable source of food for trout in the summer. You should have a selection of dry flies and nymphs that are available to the trout at the time of year you are fishing in the Smokies. You can always check our fishing report to find out the latest hatches and recommended flies.

7. If another angler has been wading in the area where you are fishing the trout will be harder to catch for a while. There are over 700 miles of fishable trout streams in this National Park. When trout are spooked by an angler they won’t feed for a while. Some people think it takes a few minutes to get over an unusual encounter and some people think it takes hours. If you see wet footprints where you are fishing and you aren’t catching or getting strikes maybe you should move to another spot. Also, as a courtesy to anglers, if you see one in the stream don’t drop in up stream from him or her. Go up a few hundred yards and get in. Most anglers start at a spot and work their way up stream and you will probably do the same. Some anglers walk along the trail and drop in at places that look good, fish for a few minutes then get out and find another.

8. Don’t stand in the same spot and fish. In some places I’ve fished and Pennsylvania comes to mind you can stand in the same spot and fish for hours. Here, it’s different. After you have made a few casts in an area move upstream. These trout will see your line, leader and maybe you and they won’t eat after that. Keep moving and you will have better success.

For more on fishing trout in the Smokies, including daily fishing reports, visit