Foscoe Fishing Company Guide - Jay Waide
Jay's Fly Fishing Tales
Follow along with Jay as he shares his flyfishing adventures in the freshwater streams of North Carolina and Tennessee. Jay posts to this blog regularly so be sure to check back often or subsribe to our newsletter for digest updates.
With the leaves changing and the cooler temperatures settling in, fishing in the High Country is heating up. The wild fish have become active and are feeding voraciously, while the DH waters are full of eager to please stocked fish. The tailwaters present the opportunity to cast to paired browns as well as boat high numbers of fish. Don’t let the cooler weather keep you from some of the best fishing of the year. Tight lines and I’ll se you on the water.
The past weeks on the Watauga have been amazing. Floats with clients last week produced multiple 50 fish days, and fun-fishing floats Sunday and Monday boated two fish of nearly 18″. The caddis and blue wing hatches in the evening are bringing some of the larger fish to the surface, while the nymphing action is hot for the better part of the afternoon. The cooler weather, and the end of recreational releases from the TVA allow for longer and more comfortable floats. Call the shop and book a float trip to enjoy this phenomenal fishing before Old Man Winter decides to settle in.
The past week has seen a return of caddis on the Watauga tailwater. I spent yesterday evening fishing dries to rising fish and was rewarded with a 17″ wild rainbow and several smaller fish for my efforts. The afternoon bite has seemed to be better, but the recreational release tends to hamper angler’s abilities to fish late into the evening. Most of the best dry fly opportunities and nymphing runs are not accessible to wade fishermen, so anglers should check with the shop for float trip availability.
The South Holston sulfur hatch has been extraordinary during high water generation. The prolific hatch typically appears around three and lasts a few hours, during which the dry fly action is hot. Sulfur patterns in sizes 14-18 matching the color of the naturals as closley as possible have been fooling plenty of fat, 12-14 inch browns. The bugs have also brought some of the bigger fish to the surface, so a 20 incher is a very feasible goal every time on the river. Call the shop and ask for Jay for a shot at some late afternoon dry fly action.
The past weekend I had the opportunity to fish with Steve Morin. Steve fished Thursday afternoon and Monday morning on our trophy section in search of massive browns, and he was not disappointed. After landing some gorgeous browns and rainbows with subsurface patterns, we switched to larger terrestrial patterns for some topwater action. After a brief thundershower, we ended the afternoon on a massive brown which left everybody smiling. Steve returned Monday with his in-law Art. Despite heavy rains, the morning was very productive, with both anglers landing “golden trout” within the first few minutes. As he had done Thursday, Steve concluded the trip with a stud brown, which measured 23″ in length and had a 15.5″ girth.
I floated the trophy section of the Watauga with clients Rob and Bill Bass, two fishermen who have been celebrating Bill’s birthday with Foscoe Fishing for the past ten years. We began the day wade fishing the South Holston to avoid morning generation on the Watauga and landed the best fish of the day, a 16″ brown. A couple of dozen dinks and a few nice rainbows later, we took a lunch break and headed for the Watauga. The afternoon float was spectacular, with fish cooperating in just about every hole we fished. A handful of beautiful rainbows and browns in the 13″-15″ range were landed, along with several smaller fish. Let’s hope the fishing stays this hot all season long.
Tuesday afternoon offered temperatures in the 60’s and a beautiful blue sky, so naturally I coerced my roommate Joey into floating a section of the Watauga in his canoe. We began our float just below the DH section in search of the season’s first smallie and possibly a large trout. Armed with my six weight and a pearl Murdich Minnow, we eased downstream and began pounding the banks. We beached the canoe alongside the first likely looking riffle and I was rewarded with an aggressive strike from a headstrong wild brown. What he lacked in size he more than made up for with his tenacious headshakes. Continuing on, we fished riffles and tail-outs picking up fish at each stop. I was surprised, but pleased, to hook into several stocked fish well downstream of the DH section. As the sun eased behind the clouds and the mercury dropped, Joey and I decided to put down our rods and pick up the paddles in order to arrive at the takeout before dark, not to mention our feet had become ice blocks after wet-wading riffles all afternoon. The total fish count for about two and a half hours of fishing came to eight–one wild brown, one wild ‘bow, three stocked ‘bows and three pale stocked brookies, all on streamers. No smallies, but a good day all in all. I assure you, nymphing would have produced several trout, and once the water temperature warms some the smallies will be moving. Tight lines until next time.
After sitting in the house for most of the day I decided to take advantage of the sunny, yet still cold, weather. To give you a sense of the air and water temperature, the hog you see below, along with my rod and net, are all resting on ice at the edge of the river. I geared up and headed to a DH section of the Watauga I hadn’t fished since the fall, but knew held some nice fish. Needless to say my efforts were rewarded. An hour into the trip I had only brought three fish to hand, so I decided to move downstream to a nice little run where a client lost a good-sized brown during a trip last October. The 22 1/2″ beauty you see above ate my trailing soft hackle within the first ten drifts through the run. After settling myself down, I fished meticulously and caught five more fish from the same spot, none comparable to the nice holdover ‘bow, but fun to catch all the same. Determined to reach double digits in fish caught, I returned to a deep slow pool I fished earlier in the afternoon. It didn’t take long to pull a feisty little rainbow of the bottom to attain my goal of double digit numbers. The day ended when I hooked a second monster who broke my 5X tippet after some vicious head shakes. I never saw the fish, but I’m almost certain it would have put the pictured ‘bow to shame. Of course they can be as big as you want when you fail to actually bring them to hand or see them. Losing that last fish left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but anytime you land a fish over 20 inches it’s a great day on the water regardless. Tight lines until next time.
Winter can be a good time to trout fish. The key to winter fishing is to put the fly on the trout’s nose. The trout are not going to expend much energy going after food in cold water.
They will eat but the food must be right in front of them. Read the water to determine where a trout might be holding and then present a nymph fished deep so that it drifts to the fish’s level.
There can also be some good dry fly fishing on certain days. Use a small dark midge pattern again presented so that it drifts directly over the trout. Another good thing about winter fishing is that there are fewer anglers on the water so the fish are under less pressure.
October has been a great month for fishing in the High Country. The onset of the month brought floats down the Nolichucky for smallmouth and the return of Delayed Harvest regulations on local trout streams. What were probably the last smallie floats of the season produced good numbers of fish up to two pounds as well as some feisty wild rainbows in the 15-17” range.
Delayed harvest has been fishing well, providing an opportunity for me to guide a 12-year-old boy to his first trout on the fly and giving more seasoned anglers a shot at some true hogs. As November nears, anglers should layer appropriately and seize the opportunity for some of the best trout fishing all year. Tight lines and I hope to see ya’ll on the water.
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