Smoky Mountains

Baby Trout

To some people, fishing for 3-6″ trout is pointless and a waste of time. But for me, just getting the chance to fish and enjoy the beauty of Creation is a blessing. I love fly fishing for trout even if they’re small.

A while back we fished a small stream near our cabin. We caught little baby brown trout, ranging from 3-4 inches.

Dirty hands, beautiful trout!

The stream was beautiful too.

The streams that these trout live in are almost always stunning. Fishing Lake Taneycomo has its place for the big trout; but these small creeks are just as beautiful as the wild trout that live in them.

In November, we took a week to explore the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Just casting my rig up into the current seam and having a tiny trout come up and engulf my fly is really amazing. It’s hard to put into words.

This guy took a #12 Adams

The Smokies have really great waterfalls.

The colors on these fish are incredible!

Baby trout are fun and challenging. I’m looking forward to catching some more in 2013.

Tight Lines,



Smoky Mountains Fly Tying Jam

The first couple days of our trip out to the Smokies in late October were shut out due to some rainy, cold conditions. The hurricane pushed a huge cold front through the mountains, dumping over three feet of snow in the higher elevations! Newfound Gap Road, which cuts through the mountains, was closed for most of the first two days. All that was left to do fishing-wise was to sit down and crank out a bunch of flies. That’s exactly what we did.

First on the menu were some tungsten hare and coppers tied with lemon wood duck flank from a wood duck I shot in September. I always keep a good stock of these in my box, as they work well pretty much anywhere and are quick and easy to tie. The tungsten version worked great to get down to the fish in the cold.

Next, I whipped up a few prince nymph variations, kind of like a psycho prince with some ice dub on the thorax.

Hook: #14 Mustad Signature Series Standard Nymph hook
Bead: 3/32 gold copper
Thread: 8/0 black UNI
Tail: Brown goose biots
Abdomen: Peacock herl
Rib: Copper wire
Thorax: 50/50 mix of olive hare’s ear and black ice dub
Wing: White Goose Biots

Tellico nymphs, along with other yellow flies, seem to be quite popular out there. The Tellico is an old fly that was developed somewhere around the Smokies. Here is my version of the classic, again with some lemon wood duck. I bet a pink version would work well in the Driftless….

Hook: #14 Mustad Signature Series Standard Nymph hook
Bead: 3/32 gold copper bead
Thread: 8/0 black UNI
Tail: Lemon wood duck flank
Abdomen: Yellow yarn (I used yellow GSP on this one)
Rib: Copper wire
Shellback: Pheasant tail fibers
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Grey hen

After fishing a bit and finding fish taking small blue winged olive nymphs, I started fishing a small brown nymph I call the Chocolate Greedo, a brown version of my Greedo BWO. I caught a beautiful 17″ wild rainbow on its first time out. We caught a lot of our trout that week on this fly.

Hook: #20 dry fly hook
Bead: Small (5/64) gold copper
Thread: Black 8/0 UNI
Tail: Brown duck flank
Abdomen: Brown tying thread
Rib: Fine copper wire
Wing Bud: Brown goose biot, clipped to half the length of the abdomen
Thorax: Mix of hare’s ear and black superfine dubbing

Also, check out the fly box, where we post fly patterns that we tie and fish, along with a few step-by-steps.

Tight Lines,



11-3…October Caddis, A Small Stream, and Dry Flies

Whenever I think of fly fishing in the Smokies, I think of dry flies. Beautiful, pure wild trout eagerly grabbing a small, well-tied dry in some pocket water. I, like most fly fishers, find dry flies to be one of the most exciting aspects of the game. The thrill of watching a trout rise up to the surface and eat your fly just never gets old. As I looked at it more and more, I realized that the places more cherished, talked about, and dream-inspiring than any other fishing destinations revolve around dry flies. For me, the Smokies have always been a fly fishing dream, and maybe that is why.

On the last day of the trip, we experienced some dry fly action. The target was a small rainbow trout stream with some awesome plunge pools. The weather had warmed up enough to bring out a small hatch of giant October caddisflies. If we were going to get any dry fly action, this was going to be the day. Braden and I got in at a small stone bridge and started the climb downstream over the rugged terrain. Almost immediately, Braden tied into a small rainbow on a #20 pheasant tail.

As I waded downstream, I spotted a pool on the opposite bank that just screamed trout. A plunge pool flowed under some overhanging brush and rubbed against a large boulder, creating a nice dark hole. I got into position downstream and carefully placed my orange stimulator at the head of the pool. As the stimmy drifted through, a flash of silver rose from the depths, but the trout missed my fly. The next cast produced a violent slash, and a beautiful six inch wild rainbow was soon in the net.

Braden and I continued to pick up fish in almost every pool. A few trout took our pheasant tail or Greedo BWO droppers, but most crashed the dry flies. We could have gone forever. Around each bend, a seemingly-endless series of plunge pools full of good trout lies cascaded down the mountain. Casting was difficult in the canopy of rhododendrons that crowded the creek, but a well-placed cast was usually rewarded with a wild rainbow.

We moved on to another spot further downstream. A lot of the trout were a bit too small to take down my #12 stimulator, so I switched to a #16 tellico-style dry, which quickly got a splashy rise from a 4″ rainbow. The bows were wild and ruggedly beautiful, kinda like the streams they live in. Braden’s Adams Wulff variation got some attention, too. He caught around seven more in the last hour of the day, all wild rainbow trout ranging from four to ten inches. Braden found one particularly good pool at the bottom of a four foot waterfall, where he pulled out a few rainbows from the current seams.

It was a great end to an awesome trip. Winter is here in Minnesota. It’s time to tie some flies and restock the boxes. Ice fishing will be here soon, and hopefully we will get some solid ice this year.

Tight Lines,





11-2…Little River Rainbows

Today Braden and I fished a stream in the Little River watershed. It was still pretty cold, so we tied on tungsten hare and coppers to get down to the fish followed by Chocolate Greedo droppers, all under an indicator. Braden caught two scrappy rainbows on the Greedo, one at about 6″ and the other a little baby 4 incher, but that was all the action for the day.  

Fishing was slow in the colder water. I fished for about two hours without even a bite. I found myself wanting to fish the deep bend pools with undercut banks, more like the brown trout water I’m used to back home, rather than the fast seems and pockets that these rainbows seem to like. Lost a few flies, but still had a fun day on the water.

Like all Smokies streams, the water was beautiful. The creek had a lower gradient, but still had some awesome falls. Great day to be on the water, even though the fishing was slow.

Tight Lines,


11-1…Wild Rainbows in the Smokies

This week the crew is on vacation in the Smoky Mountains for a week of fly fishing, hiking, and hanging out. Fly fishing in the Smokies has been a dream of mine since I became a fly fisher. Maybe it’s all the videos of trout eagerly crashing dry flies in small streams, or the pics of beautifully colored wild rainbows, but the small, rushing streams of the Smokies have always captivated me. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has hundreds of miles of cold mountain streams ranging from tiny high elevation brook trout streams to small rivers with larger browns. I was pumped that we were actually there.Weather has made things tough. For the first few days we were stuck inside as Sandy dumped over two feet of snow on the mountains. The road through the mountains has been closed most of the time since Sunday. While the rain poured down, we hit the Orvis shop in Sevierville and got the latest fishing conditions and the hot flies. The snow pretty much ends any hopes of fishing high elevation for brook trout, so we will hit the lower elevation creeks for wild browns and rainbows. Wednesday was the first day it wasn’t rainy and freezing cold, so we got out for about an hour in the evening and fished almost until dark. Noah and I didn’t catch any, but Braden nymphed up a great 9″ wild rainbow. The water out here is beautiful, mostly pocket water flowing swiftly over moss covered rocks and boulders. It’s a trout fisher’s dream. There is something like 900 miles of streams in the Smokies, each containing endless pockets and pools that hold trout.

We stopped at the Smoky Mountain Angler in Gatlinburg for some fly tying stuff on Thursday. It’s a great little shop. The guys were very helpful, and pointed us toward some great fishing spots. We sneaked in another couple hours of fishing before dark on Thursday. I spotted a few fish in a huge pool, so I crept into position and sent my tungsten hare and copper through the pool a few times. I hooked a small rainbow for a second, but my hare’s ear was getting mostly refusals, so I tied on a #20 Chocolate Greedo nymph dropper (its like a Greedo BWO, but brown). A few drifts later, my indicator twitched, and I set the hook into a hard fighting rainbow. After a good five minute battle on 6x, I got my first Smokies trout into the net, a fat 17″ rainbow! From what I understand, the rainbows don’t get very big in the park, so this was a great fish. This fish was in great shape, very strong and thick shouldered. I released him, and we called it a day.

So far, the trip has been great. Even though they often don’t correspond with good fishing in high elevation, snow covered peaks are a dramatic background for fly fishing. The cold water will make things a little tough, but the bite should pick up as it gets warmer towards the end of the week.

Tight Lines,


Spring Break

Spring break this year was a blast, although the fishing was a bit tough. Over forty hours in the car brought us to the Smoky Mountains, South Carolina, and Florida. I wish I could say we caught tons of fish, but it was great just to go fishing.

For some reason, ever since I started fly fishing I have wanted to fish in the Smoky Mountains. The videos of brookies smashing dry flies, and the pictures of small mountain streams with pockets and pools just begging to be fished captured my mind. When we drove through them I just had to stop and fish, even for just a few minutes. The weather was not on my side, as it rained almost all day, just enough to prevent fishing. However, there was a brief window of opportunity when the rain lightened as we drove by a stream. A small bead head tempted one small trout in the fifteen minutes I had to fish, but he popped off.

South Carolina brought saltwater fishing in tidal pools and creeks adjacent to a jetty. Redfish would go into these creeks and pools at high tide to escape the dolphins. One problem. It wasn’t high tide when we had time to fish. There were still some fish, but it made for a tough day that ended without any fish caught and only a small pod of reds tailing at the other end of a pool for a few seconds.

The fish gave us the hard treatment again on our second day of fishing and kayaking in a salt marsh, but it was not as harsh as last time All three of us tried dredging the creeks and channels with no luck, but I did manage to hook into a hard fighting redfish. I was dragging a rabbit pattern along the bottom of a pool when all of a sudden the line came to life. A strip set later the reel was screaming with a refish on the other end. However, my luck was about to change. After two minutes of runs and hard pulls the line went limp just as I was tiring the fish out. Nothing seemed to be going our way.

The next time I picked up a fly rod was on a brackish lake in the Florida panhandle. Braden and Noah chose not to fish, but to hang out on the beach and I can’t blame them. The coastal “dune” lake connects to the ocean for part of the year, but had been closed off for some time. Near the ocean the water was brackish, but it became fresh as it got farther inland. Dredging flies near the outlet didn’t pan out, so Dad and I drove farther inland to try another spot. A deep, narrow channel bordered by shallow flats and partially submerged grass greeted us. This looked good. After an hour of fishing various flies the only action was a lazy swat at a small popper. Things were looking grim. At this point I was desparate. Even a small bass would be awesome. I tied on a yellow deer hair bug hoping to catch one. After several casts along the weeds I was rewarded with an explosion on the surface. A frisky one pound largemouth had inhaled the bug. It wasn’t the redfish I was hoping for on this trip but it sure beat getting skunked.


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