Trout Zone Anglers, LLC

December Update on the Tailwaters

Caney Fork Report

With the recent cool wet spell, the Caney Fork River is threatening to start pushing a lot more water. Center Hill Lake continues to rise slowly. Steady inflow is now coming from Great Falls Reservoir and the upper Caney Fork River basin. We are probably one good rain away from heavy generation. Of course, this has been the norm during cold months the past few years. The lake surface temperature is in the low 50s right now which is a great sign for one of our favorite things about winter fishing: the shad kill!

Each year, about this time, we start watching both the lake surface temperature and the generation schedule on the Caney Fork. We hope for low lake surface temperatures and steady generation, preferably one generator. That is the recipe for a good fishable shad kill. Two or more generators may pump even more shad through the turbines, but that is not a good safe flow for fishing. The best part about shad kills? We have the right flies and know where to find the big trout!

Winter trout and musky trips are already booking. Accordingly, if you want to get in on this off season fishing, contact me to book your trip or with any questions. Good shad kills can happen at any time. Last December we were fishing some good shad action. The best fishing with shad kills usually happens in mid to late winter though. February and even March have historically had the best shad kills. Streamer fishing should stay good through winter and into spring on higher flows with or without shad.

If you need more information about the shad kill, consult this article I did almost two years ago on the Trout Zone blog.

When shad are not in the picture, midges will catch a lot of trout. In fact, winter is almost strictly midge fishing along with some nymphing. Yesterday, I even caught a few fish swinging soft hackles but that bite is not usually very consistent.

Clinch River Report

The Clinch River has fished fairly well this fall. Recently I’ve been able to sneak away for a little time on the water there. The river is always tough, but rewards those who persevere. Midges have easily been my best fly although nymphs and even streamers will turn some fish as well. Watch for risers and consider a small midge emerger when you find them.

Trophy Clinch River brown trout

Trophy Clinch River brown trout. Photo Courtesy of Tim Helton, ©2016.

Great Smoky Mountains Report

Fishing in the Smokies is good…probably. Water temperatures on Little River have been ideal for the last couple of days. The increased flows are also great for the trout. That said, Little River Road is apparently still closed due to the Chimney Tops 2 Fire. Hopefully that will change soon. The good news is that fishing on Middle Prong and West Prong of Little River should be good. Abrams Creek is another good winter destination. North Carolina side streams should also be fishing reasonably well if you are willing to make the drive.

As we get into the normal winter fishing routine, look for warmer days. Rising water can also be good, especially with a warm rain. Mostly you should fish nymphs and midges deep, but don’t hesitate to try some streamers. Always keep an eye out for risers as well. Some pools on Little River probably have fish rising nearly 365 days a year.

Good News About Gatlinburg

Despite lots of bad news lately as a result of the fire in Gatlinburg, there is finally some good news. The town is reopening for business tomorrow! I am still waiting to here about when the Smokies roads will open up fully, but for now you can at least visit Gatlinburg again. The town needs the visitors as well. Tourism is the engine behind this mountain town’s economy. Don’t expect it to be the same town you know and love, yet. That will come again with time. But DO visit and support the local business that are still in operation and hopefully soon the ones that are not.