It was a cold day yesterday, but in between frozen guides and finger warming sessions, in the afternoon I was able to catch 9 browns. Most of which fell subject to a Oregon cheese colored egg. The others where happy to take a small blue wing nymph. I was fishing falling water, and I was by myself on the South Holston in 22 degree weather with the wind blowing 25mpg. I feel it was a pretty successful 90 minute trip. Snow was falling the whole time. I just love to fish in the snow regardless of how the fishing is. It’s somehow even more peaceful. I did make it out with my newly acquire MK Lanyard yesterday. It was very useful to have everything I need at the ready. I’ll give it a full review and how I set it up on a later post. Until the next time, Josh McFadden
Author Archives: mcfaddenjosh
Kevin and I made our annual trip to fish New Year’s Morning. We headed over the mountain to do a little small stream fishing. The first few hours didn’t yeild much as it was still cold. It started to warm up a little before the storms moved in. This was the prettiest wild rainbow of the year that was more than happy to take a blue wing olive nymph. I landed 9 fish this morning which is a great morning in the mountains. There were some small winter stones coming off. The South Holston had been very busy yesterday so it was nice to get out away from the madness of the tailwater.
Happy New Year
“First Cold Day”
A cold front blew in yesterday evening and carried on through this morning with some rain and good cloud cover. I met my clients up at the fly shop for a day out on the river. We had a wade trip today starting at 9. There was an early morning pulse this morning on top of a 340 sluice to give a cool burst of water for the morning fishing. We arrived at the river with several layers packed on a piece. You know that first day that it really gets down cold, it seems much worse than even the coldest days of the year. We had rigged up blue wing nymphs and midges to start out. It didn’t take an hour before blue wing olives started pouring off. You could get away with a size #20 CDC comparadun or a simple cripple. For a little while there were sulphurs coming off as well in the mix when we had burst of sun. A good tandem rig ended up being a sulphur up top with a smaller olive simple cripple on down below. The blue wings continued hatching off strong all afternoon. Just about everywhere you looked there were fish popping blue wings on the surface. It was a dry fly fishing day for sure. I encourage everyone who’s considering taking a trip to the South Holston to spend some time out in the yard on some casting practice a few days before your trip. You really do have to bring your A-Game on casting. You really do need to be able to hit a pie plate at 35-40 feet consistently to put numbers on the board in the dry fly fishing game. The South Holston is definately if nothing else, a year round dry fly fishery. In the CDC dry fly game there is two products that every savvy Soho angler needs.
The first is some preen oil ( Pictured on the left). The preen oil is a pretreatment to use on your CDC flies. The second necessary evil is a few bottles of frogs fanny. Not all dry fly dust is created equal. Frogs Fanny is in my opinion a far superior product than any of the dry shakes or the like. You do need to take some time and really work the powder into the fly. Not only does it do a good job of getting your flies floating high again. But it also changes the color of the wing. It gives gets the color of the wing that natural light dun color like the naturals have making the patterns look even more realistic.
There was some good size fish out eating today. The rain kept a lot of fair weather fishers off the river. A good dry fly fisherman could have racked up today and cleaned some clocks. Everyone in the group had fun and caught their fair share of fish but admitted to needing some more casting practice. It was very cool to hang out with this group of long rodders. Everyone had their own 10 footer which is a perfect fishing tool on the big river.
As a reminder to those of you to fish the South Holston you’ve got a month before the the two spawning sections of the river will be closed. Now is the time to get out and have a chance at some good sized fish as they fatten up pre-spawn. I didn’t manage to take any pictures today as my finger weren’t up for the challenge of digging for the camera. A moose knuckle lanyard would be the perfect tool for a rainy fall day keeping all of your important tools at bay on top of your rain gear.
Until the Next Time
Josh McFadden – Contributor
“The Crisp of Fall”
Finally, the temps have come down at least for a few days. There is a crispness to the air, and wild fish on the rise on the South Holston. I got a late start today, I was up most of the night with a fevered 1 year old, I was due some quality fishing time. Most of the upper stretches of the river were already covered up. So I headed downstream to my favorite place to fish. I think that there are two different kinds of trips that we take in our angling pursuits. There are those times when we try to have a brand new experience. Whether it’s trying out new fly patterns, or exploring new waters to fish, to have the thrill of it all being new again. Then there are those trips like the trip I had today. Where you go to one of your favorite waters or favorite spot you’ve been so many times before and try to tap into some of your past angling experiences. The water where you find yourself the most comfortable. The place where you’ve caught fish and had many memorable experiences. In our angling pursuits we are at times the sum of all of our experiences both situational and conditional. I was definitely in need of some solitude today. I was fortunate enough to find just that today, which is not an easy feat on a busy Saturday
There was more flow on the river today, due to the sluicing that’s been going on. There’s nothing like fishing the sluice water. It’s just enough extra flow to get the fish fired up and eating very well. I got down to the water and rigged up the 4wt with a double nymph rig. A pheasant tail nymph dropper and a small blue wing olive nymph on point under a yarn indicator. I was working my way up the first run and hooked up with 3 fish on the pheasant tail in short order.
There were some really nicely colored wild rainbows in the mix. These fish get so strong fighting this extra current. Even an average sized fish will give you a run for your money. I picked up several more fish on nymphs before making my way up to some good dry fly water. It was about 2pm at this time and there was a decent little hatch of blue wing olives going on so I tied on a bwo puff daddy and began picking of some more risers.
I made my way up around the bend to find another pod of fish working over some late season sulphurs. I swapped out to a Sulphur Puff Daddy and picked up several nicer fish from this run.
There’s nothing quite like watching a fish take in a dry. It’s during those moments when that split second of time slows down and it all comes together as the fly disappears back underneath the surface and it’s fish on.
This run has been so prolific for me and clients in the past. I’ve had people stand in this same spot for hours on end railing fish one after another. The dry fly fishing was on in a big way this afternoon. It was a simple formula really. Cast-Drift-Sip-Set-Release-Frogs Fanny- and repeat as necessary. The fish were acting like someone shouted out last call on sulphurs and they were picking off every natural that floated by. When the hatch began to slow down a little I took a break to contemplate my next move over a pack of nabs and a water.
The angle of the sun had changed quite a bit and seeing the puff daddy became more difficult. So I tied on CDC Sulphur Comparadun “Old Reliable” up top and dropped the puff daddy off the eye. I picked up several more as I worked over the end of the hatch, including this nice rainbow.
I This last fish on the dry had fouled up my dry rig, so I swapped back out to the nymph rig to finish out the afternoon and nymph fished my way back downstream to the truck. What an afternoon. No monster fish or anything but healthy wild rainbows and browns giving me a good tug on the end of the line. I’m ready to welcome fall with open arms.
Josh McFadden – Contributor