Trout Zone Anglers

Fishing Report February 23, 2016

While I’ve been out on the hiking trails, I have also found the time to fish again. The continuous (or seemingly so!) high water has kept me from wanting to get out very badly. With the warming weather that is starting to change, and I’ve been on the water twice in the last three days now. Just in time, too, because it is raining again and streams are shooting back up. Want to fish the Smokies? Sorry, high water. Caney Fork? High water. Smallmouth bass and musky streams? High water.

The good news is that this should lead to good fishing later on this year. The ground water supply is being recharged and the fish should be healthy once the streams are all at a good fishable level. The other piece of good news is that the spring hatches have commenced in the Great Smoky Mountains and stream levels will fall quickly once the rain ends. The fish are slowly starting to notice the blue quills drifting overhead when the water temperatures are up a little. This past Sunday afternoon, a friend and I drove slowly up Little River checking for rising trout. We found them too, right in a hole where I always find early season risers. Yes, it does help to know the streams like the back of your hand. Most other anglers I heard from reported either no bugs or not enough to matter, but we fished to rising trout. I spotted some large fish as well but they weren’t joining in the topwater party just yet.

Things will only improve from here on out. A few high water hiccups will be thrown in just to keep us all honest, but in general expect bugs and rising trout on days with decent water temperatures and/or good sunlight on the streams. Once the bugs start, they will keep trickling off even if it gets chilly again. I’ve heard rumors of quill gordons but cannot confirm that and tend to think that it is a little early. In a normal year it would be early for sure. Blue quills always start before the quill gordons so I would expect it to be another week or even two before the quill gordons really get going good. Once they do, head for the hills armed with both Quill Gordon dry flies and Parachute Adams. Secret favorite patterns can be good too but don’t show other anglers if you’re wearing them out. News spreads fast.

I’ve been getting some questions from people on the best place to fish in the Smokies. Unfortunately there is not a good straightforward answer to that question. If you are planning on fishing in the Smokies, feel free to shoot me an email ( or a phone call/text (931-261-1884) and I’m glad to discuss your options and offer suggestions on where and what to fish. Before you call, ask yourself the following questions because I’m going to want to know the answers before I offer recommendations:

  1. Do I want to fish small, medium, or large streams?
  2. Do I want to catch rainbow, brown, and/or brook trout?
  3. Do I want to fish in Tennessee or North Carolina?
  4. Do I want to fish front country near my car or do I want to hike into the backcountry?
  5. Do I want to fish dry flies to rising trout or just catch fish using whatever method works best?


If you plan on booking a guide trip, go ahead and think about the following questions as well.

  • What specifically do I want a guide to teach me? What is my main objective with a guided fly fishing trip?
  • Are numbers of fish more important or quality of the fish I do catch?