Reports for the Smoky Mountains and East Tennessee Tailwaters

Fishing Reports for The Smoky Mountains
And East Tennessee Tail waters


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Ken Murphy, from near Chicago, met with me today and we decided to fish at Greenbriar. The creek is good shape and we spent most of the day there working on skills. Ken had a tough time mastering the casting and mending techniques so we just fished awhile and we went back to a good open area, where we practiced those disciplines, which were hard for him to master. All of the fish that Ken caught were pretty small, but the practice was really the better part of the day. 

 In the middle of the afternoon , it clouded up, so we packed it up and drove back to Townsend. I hope Ken works hard on the skills that we  found to be troublesome and maybe we can get together again one day.

   Hugh        423-586-6198

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I got Boomer out this morning and we drove down to the Holston River, below Cherokee Dam. I have not been able to spend as much time with him as I would like for the past 5 months. Today seemed like a good time to do a little fishing and let him get some exercise.
We didn't have to go too far and we were in the water pretty fast. I just struggle with him most of the time because he is so aggressive when he is around water. No amount of training seems to allow me to get out in the river and fish, without having him swim right along side of me. When I hook a fish, there is no stopping him. He goes right for it. I barely got started when I hooked the first one. I only had him for a second and he was off. I cast again and had another very nice fish to take my fly. He ran from the middle of the river to the near side and stopped. That was only a breather. Boomer went after him instantly and he set my reel on fire. He ended the run with a jump and went back across the river again toward the other side. Boomer was right after him and I was yelling my head off. It took almost 20 minutes to get the fish to settle down and Boomer is right behind him the whole time. He followed the fish right up to my hand. It was a beautiful chunk and it was so thick that I could hardly get my hand around it. I saw that I needed to get out and let Boomer just have some play time, so that is what we did. He had a great morning!

The fish in the Holston River, below Cherokee Dam have sure put some growth on this summer. They are pure brutes and it is looking like they might make it thru another season. If this happens, we are going to have fish in the 20-30 inch range scattered all up and down this stream.

If we can help with a guided wade or float trip, just call us at 423-586-6198.                                             


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Paul Hagans is a friend and customer. He has been in touch with me on 2-3 occasions about fishing the South Holston and Cumberland Rivers. I have sent flies to him and some of them seem to have been effective as well as some of his own. Today, he sent some pictures of his last trip to the Cumberland. I hope you enjoy them.


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Richard Moody, from Chattanooga was visiting the Smokies and he wanted to try a day of Smallmouth fishing on  Little River, outside of the Park. With some help from Gary Troutman to give us ideas of the best locations to fish, we started just behind the Walland Post Office, and worked upstream. This water is beautiful, and just screams "smallmouth ", in every direction that you look. We began the morning, fishing poppers on a 9ft. 6wt. rod, and to my surprise, this young man knew exactly how to handle this rig and did not need any instructions. I was carrying a small ultra light spinning rod to hand over to him when we came to water that was a little too large for a flyrod to cover. We used both thru this area of the river. We moved no fish here, and we moved upstream to a different location. Again, the water was perfect for smallmouth and redeye, but we did not see a single fish. There were none feeding as well. After several hours of this, we had lunch and moved farther down river. We drove down below the second dam and got in the river again. Richard fished with all the skills of a professional, but we could not get a single fish to show itself. We just decided that the frontal system that came through the day before, had caused all the fish to stop feeding. We called it a day and came back to Little River Outfitters. It was great watching this young man show his casting skills and working the water so well. We will wish him well on his next smallmouth excursion. My thanks to him for allowing me to guide him. My thanks to Gary for lending his past experience as well.


I met with Frank Seigler and his wife Kerri, on the 10TH, at Indian Cave, on the Holston River. We started our float to Nances Ferry at about 9:00AM.  Frank had wanted to fish for Smallmouth and we started him pretty quickly with a Deceiver. Kerri wanted to fish for trout. They had both just finished a Beginners Flyfishers  Course at LROs. Since they were still new to the sport, we had to work on casting skills all the way downriver. The trout began taking Caddis that were hatching so Frank switched back to a trout set up. Both members hooked fish, but Frank was the first to land one. It made several jumps and actually made one of the highest leaps that I have ever seen a trout make. Frank's wife, Kerri hooked a very large fish and it really put a bend in the rod. The rod tip went all the way to the water and then tore the hook out. It seems like the fish in the Holston River, below Cherokee Dam are in the best shape this year, because of generation keeping the water cold all the way to Knoxville. They fight like tarpons when you hook one. We continued on down the river until we were hit by a thunderstorm. We pulled the boat over and got out on the bank under a tree. When the storm ended, we moved on down toward Nances Ferry and a Crane fly hatch began. Frank's wife, hooked more fish, but just could not hold onto them. We finished the day by losing another fish right in front of the takeout. We had a great fun day and I hope they learned a lot while we were on the river. Frank wants to come back and do a wade trip in the shoals. My thanks to them for allowing me to guide them. The flies that worked were:
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I received a call from Robert and Julie after they had been to the Orvis Store in Sevierville. They had each bought a new 9ft 5 wt. rod and they wanted to try them out in a local stream. I recommended fishing the South Holston River and we met the next morning. We arrived at the Weir Dam and went down stream to wait for the pulse to start going down. We were in the water in just a few minutes working on casting and mending techniques. Julie was first and she was almost dwarfed by the 9ft. 5wt. rod. She only looked like she was about 4ft. 9in. tall and would not have weighed 100lbs. if she had fallen in. She really worked hard on mastering her skills. Next, was Robert. We had him in the river working rising fish in about 20 minutes. I sent Julie downstream and she had a fish on in a few minutes. She managed to hook and land the first one in about 30 minutes. Robert was having a little harder time fooling them in the slicker water. Over the course of 2 hours, Julie hooked, but lost, several fish. We finally moved when it was close to time for the full generation to begin. We ate a late dinner at Webb's Store and then finished out the evening on Big Springs Road. Julie was exhausted by the 5:00PM and we called it a day. It was great to get to fish with this couple and their daughter. We hope to see them again in the future.

If Carolyn or I can help with a guided trip, please contact us at:                                           

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I had to run back up to Tri Cities again to take care of some business and I stopped in to talk with some of the guys that were getting ready to hit the river. I got to meet several new folks and renew my acquaintance with some that I had known from years past. It's always good to meet fellow flyfishermen on the stream. I hurried with business and hellos and moved down the river to await the pulse. I managed to catch a couple before it arrived. As it started down, I got back into the river and actually did not see many fish feeding at first. That didn't matter. They were just looking for the Beadhead Rubberlegged Prince Nymph to come floating their way. This fly just keeps on proving itself each time that I go up to the South Holston River. If you haven't bought any of the flies to use on the tailwaters, you are missing a special treat. I encourage you to just look at these pictures, and multiply that by 2 or 3. That is about the number that I caught and I did not fish more than 100yards to do it. A small Sulfur hatch took place after the pulse and I hope that it got even bigger as the full generation took place. It was great to be on the water today and I encourage you again to give this Prince Nymph some serious consideration for your next trip. Just tie it in to the bend of the hook onto 24 inches of 6X tippet. Cast upstream, mend properly, and it will do the rest. The fish just can't control themselves.

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I received a call from one of my best friends this week and they invited Carolyn and I to come over to their mountain farm and join in with quite a few others for a good pre July 4th "mountain get together". We were caught up on our guided trips so off to Hancock County we went to join in the fun. We arrived at about 6PM and the crowd was gathering. There are friends and then there are good old East Tenn. mountain friends. This event took place in the hills and mountains of the Chestnut Ridge Community which is located just North of Sneedville, Tennessee, in Hancocke County. This area still looks like it did over 100 years ago. It is the homeplace of Linda Burke, a former working partner in Morristown. She and her husband, Jerry Burke, are the owners of Burke-Ailey Construction Company located in Morristown Tennessee. They had purchased this mountain farm a few years ago and built a small rustic cabin on it. This is their place of retreat when they can get away from work and Carolyn and I have spent many hours there with them, just relaxing or riding 4 wheelers. The views are straight from heaven. The upper waters of the Clinch River are down at the bottom of the many ridges. There is one small trout stream close by. The whole setting is a testament to hard work and determination to succeed, even when you have come from humble beginnings. We can't thank them enough for sharing their good fortunes with us and hundreds of other people.  
Tonight, everyone had brought a covered dish and a large farm wagon was the dinner table for the many people that showed up. We ate first and then we were treated to some great Blue Grass Music. One of the top banjo pickers in the country was a part of the group that performed from the front porch of the cabin. The entertainment was fantastic. We met many old friends that we have come to know thru the years. What could be better and more relaxing than a setting like this.
  Carolyn and I count ourselves fortunate to have friends of this caliber and to be able to just spend time in such a beautiful locale. Our thanks again to Jerry and Linda Burke for asking us to be a part of such a great East Tennessee event. We hope that some of you get to visit this place called "OVER HOME"
at some time in the future.
   Hugh and Carolyn
July 2, 2007 Backcountry Trip to Deep Creek With the Flournoys
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Kathy and Chuck Flournoy from Lynchburg, Virginia met with me at  8 am at the Deep Creek Trailhead in Bryson City, North Carolina.  They had taken their son to camp in Black Mountain, North Carolina and were wanting to get some fishing time in before heading home.  Both are very familiar with backcountry hiking and flyfishing.  Chuck has been fishing since he was a young boy and Kathy has been flyfishing for about 16 years and spin fishing since she was a young girl.   They have fished in lots of places and shared many interesting stories about their travels.  Chuck coaches soccer, and Kathy jogs 3 miles daily, so both were in great physical shape.

We walked about a 1/2 mile or so to the first bridge, where they both fished a little before making the steep climb. There were no strikes, so we headed up the mountain.  We hiked about 2 more hours until the stream came back to the trail and figured we had walked about 6 miles from the trailhead. We saw Rhododendron and Mountain Laurels along the way.  Chuck said the only difference between the two, was the leaves.  Rhododendron have the longer leaves.  Kathy stated that the trail was even more beautiful with the blossoms scattered along the pathway.

Chuck was going to fish dry flies and Kathy, who enjoyed nymphing best, fished behind him with the nymphs. Chuck is also an experienced fly tier, especially saltwater flies.  They both had lots of flies and had also bought flies from Black Mountain.  I gave them some of our flies specific to the area.  

We only saw an occasional fish rising.  There were loads of small sized #18 and #20 black flies everywhere and some small moth like hatches, but no fish were feeding.  The small beadhead prince nymph looked just like the black flies, but the fish weren't interested in these.  In fact, Chuck, Kathy and I tried every fly that we all could think of to get the fish's attention, but they were in lock down mode. We used the 6X tippet and Chuck was even going to try the 7X.  After several hours he said, "I just know that we aren't doing anything wrong".  This husband and wife team were highly experienced and their casting and mending techniques were beautiful.  We figured that there was a frontal system coming across, as the weather was overcast and rain drops were scattered.

About 3 pm we headed back down the mountain, and they fished when we were closer to the trailhead.  Kathy hooked 2 fish with the Smoky Mountain Blackbird Softhackle, but didn't land them. We finally decided to call it a day and arrived back at the parking lot about 6 pm and a total trip of about 12 miles.  Just as we arrived, it started to rain.

Kathy and Chuck are both wonderful people, whom I felt privileged to meet. I wish them and their son the very best.


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Chris Chamberlin and Jim Pierce wanted to get 1/2 day of instruction for their first time ever with a flyrod. We drove to Metcalf Bottoms and got in the water and began working on casting and mending techniques. We finished at about 1:30 PM and let the fellas do a little fishing on their own as we moved upstream. This was a short introduction to flyfishing and I hope they can pick it up near their home, as the summer moves on. The guys both learned a lot of techniques and will be prepared as they get another opportunity this Summer. I thank them for allowing me to instruct them and I wish them well as new flyfishermen.

If Carolyn or I can help with a guided trip or flies, please contact us at:                                      

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I had the opportunity to spend one of the funniest days that I have had on the water this year, with Bill Bolinger and Mike Bates. They wanted to fish the South Holston River while the Sulfur hatches were taking place and they sure got to see a show. They were such a comical pair to be with that they kept me laughing all the time we were out.
 We began the day at about 9:30AM, by going all the way to the twin islands to find water that was not being fished. Some Sulfurs were hatching off and they were into fish pretty quickly. Both guys were taking fish on Sulfur Compara Duns. There was a pulse at 12:00AM and we got right back into the water as it was going down. The Sulfur hatch really began in earnest as the water dropped. The air was full of them and the water was covered.
The men did their best catching by perfecting the Pile Cast and a downstream drift. At about the time the generation was to start, it came a storm. We went to eat at Webb's Store and it came down in buckets. We tried to fish afterwards and the rain just kept coming. The water turned dingy and we called it a day. What a great pair to be on the water with!  I LAUGHED SO MUCH THAT MY SIDE HURT ON THE WAY HOME.
It was a great day of guiding and fishing, and I hope the guys enjoyed it as much as I did.

If you want to get in on this great Sulfur hatch on the south Holston River, please contact Carolyn or me at:                   

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Greg Zecharias and I fished the South Holston River today and he really put forth some hard work while we were there. Greg teaches school in Columbus and he and his wife had decided to come down and spend a little time in the Great Smokies. I had told him that the water conditions were getting pretty bad and we just decided to make the trip to a tailwater.
We just did not find many bugs hatching at all so we tried many different combinations to see what they might be interested in. The Sulfur Compara Dun seemed to draw the most interest and I carried another rod that was rigged the BHRLPN. Greg hooked several fish, but had a very difficult  time landing them. We just called them long distance releases. We had a great time on the river and I enjoyed the company of Greg very much. We hope to see them back in the future.
If Carolyn or I can help with a guided trip, please contact us at:                                             

 June 27, 2007 A Half Day on Little River With The Walker Sisters 
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Renee (Walker) Eppard and Melissa Walker are the Walker sisters.  Renee is from Florida and has a vacation home in Wears Valley.  Melissa is from Chicago and is here visiting Renee.  Renee and her father (from Nashville, TN) had taken 1/2 day flycasting instruction several weeks ago.  Renee is  attempting to get Melissa interested in flyfishing so that they can fish while spending  time together. 

The day was filled with instruction.  I had forewarned them that the fishing conditions were not good due to the recent drought, but hopefully we could rouse a trout or two. My goal for the day was to teach the ladies enough so that they could fish by themselves, even if no fish were caught today.   Instructions were given on how to rig the rod, stretch the fly line to straighten it, the difference in the size of tippet, using dry flies, nymphs and emergers and the use of droppers from drys and nymphs, streamside etiquette, safety while on the water and at the streamside, how to land a fish, remove a hook from the fish and themselves as needed, read the water for location of fish, how to look for and match the flies that were hatching and look for terrestrials, and nymphs on the rocks. I also instructed on the  double nymph rig that Hugh and I use frequently.   We drove around to point out the best fishing sites.

We started and ended at the Elkmont area.  The water was very low, so we used 6X tippet and the Smoky Mountain Blackbird Softhackle for starters.  A while later and after only 1 strike, we added the Biot Bodied Cahill as the lead fly and the Blackbird as the dropper.  There were no more strikes, but these 2 ladies became proficient at the roll cast and casting short distances, while staying out of the trees.  

I feel that the Walker sisters are information-equipped enough to go fishing by themselves.  Sooner or later they will start catching fish.  I told them to call or email for questions that would arise as needed.  Renee stated that she had learned so many new things, that it would take her a while to absorb everything.  I told her that everyone learns something new every time that they go out.

I wish these 2 fine ladies the best in their future flyfishing adventures.

If Hugh or I can assist you with a trip, just let us know.


June 26, 2007 Rick Pitts on Little River With Carolyn
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Rick is from Omaha, Nebraska and was in Knoxville on a business trip.  He was able to squeeze in a half day of fishing before catching his plane on Tuesday afternoon, so we met on Little River at 6 a.m. We were the first on the river that I could see.   I told him that the river conditions were not very good, due to the drought; but he was just be glad to be in the outdoors in a beautiful mountainous area.  Rick stated that his goal was to catch at least one fish. 

Rick is an accomplished fisherman and has fished many rivers in the West.  He has never been to the Smokies.  I instructed him on the double nymph rig that Hugh and I use in the Smokies. He started with nymphs, and I loaded my rod with drys; so that he could alternate between the 2 kinds as needed.  We saw small caddis flies flying around of various sizes, mostly #24 and #26, but no fish were feeding on the Caddis.  The only other fly that I saw was a  Sulphur.  About an hour after we started, Rick hooked a small Rainbow with a #18 Beadhead Rubberlegged Prince Nymph.  We were both in hopes that this was a good sign and more catches were to be soon had. We used many combinations, including a Zebra nymph from a Stimulator, Caddis and Sulphur.

Finally we moved on up the River about half a mile and started with the Biot Bodied Cahill and Smoky Mountain Blackbird Softhackle dropper.  About 30 minutes here,  we were excited when a #12 inch beautiful Brown took the Blackbird.  Rick was very happy, as he had exceeded his goal.  We both wished that he could have fished longer, but he had to head back to Knoxville.  

Rick was fun to fish with and I wish him the best.

If Hugh or I can assist you with a guided trip, let us know.


June 24, 2007 Bob and Nate Powell On The South Holston River

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Bob and son Nate, picked up where we left off, the next day on the South Holston River. I made my mind up to work with Nate on his casting and mending skills as hard as we could, so that he would eventually catch a nice fish or two. The scheduled pulse turned out to be a full hour of generation, so everyone got back in the water as it was dropping down to a safe wading level. This was when the Sulfurs started hatching and the fun began.  I started just above the islands with Nate and we worked upstream. This was intense, prolonged work and it was designed to ingrain all the movements that long delicate casts and mends require.  Nate had a difficult time allowing the flyline to slide thru his fingers as he was making his casts. Many clients struggle with this as did Carolyn a few years ago. It is hard to tell the muscles on the right side to grip the rod firmly and tell the other hand and fingers to very lightly allow the flyline to slip thru them as the false casts are being made, or on the final casting stroke. Doing this repeatedly, and having someone to instruct you of what you are doing right or wrong, is a slow tedious process. It is absolutely required and it will pay off in the future. We continued to do this as we worked upstream and as we came to some slightly broken water, Nate had a real nice brown to take his fly. When he set the hook, it was a little too fast. We talked about using the method of saying "one thousand" AND THEN SETTING THE HOOK. He has about 4 strikes and missed each one of them because he was a little too fast. We were now beginning to approach a set of riffles and I told him that he would have a lot more strikes in this area. They began to happen and he hooked his first fish. I showed him the correct way to land a fish without a net and he used the technique from that point on. After catching two or three, he hooked a very nice brown and the battle was on. It took about 12-15 minutes because it was his first big fish and I wanted him to be able to land it by himself. He followed everything that I had shown him and landed a beautiful 15 in beauty. I took several good pictures as he was playing the fish and Carolyn and his Father looked on from downstream. It was a great moment to remember, for him. Bob was downstream doing some catching of his own. Both guys worked hard and had great fun for the rest of the time catching several more. We broke for lunch as the time for generation was about upon us. We finished up the evening farther downstream as thunderstorms approached. We had a wonderful time with Bob and Nate. We hope the bug has truly bitten them.

If Carolyn or I can help with a guided trip or with flies, please contact us at:                                           

June 23, 2007 Bob and Nate Powell on Little River
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Today, I met with Bob and Nate Powell. We fished Little River and worked on casting and mending skills for the whole day. Bob had many fish to take his Snowshoe Sulfur, but he had trouble hooking up with many of them. I believe he holds the record on missed strikes. Nate had some of the same problems but he worked diligently all day on skills and techniques. Tomorrow we will hit the South Holston River for some tailwater fishing. Be back tomorrow.


JUNE 23, 2007 Fishing with Pete Klara on Little River 
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Pete lives in Tullahoma, TN near Nashville and drove to Dandridge Friday night.  We met on Saturday morning and drove to Metcalf Bottoms.  Pete had never been to the Smokies, because he hasn't lived in Tennessee long.  He has done quite a bit of flyfishing before, but we reviewed the basics.  I showed him the Pitzen knot, and he was able to tie one after only a couple of tries.  Pete is a neurosurgeon and is very familiar with tying knots in surgery.

We started at the Bottoms with a Stimulator and then added several droppers.  There were several strikes from small fish, but no connects.  We moved on up the river to see if we could find an area with more water, since the river is so low. I showed Pete the double nymph rig set-up that Hugh and I use.  We tried multiple combinations of drys, nymphs and emergers.  I would keep one rod loaded with a different combination of flies, and he would switch out rods, when the water was unproductive.  Pete got several strikes with no connects, and then a small rainbow hit a #18 Beadhead Rubber Legged Prince Nymph.

Some of the flies we tried were: Stimulators, Caddis, Sulphurs, and Ant dry flies: Beadhead Rubber Legged Prince Nymphs, Biot Bodied Cahill Nymphs, Smoky Mountain Blackbird Softhackle,  and Blackbird Deerhair Emergers.

The fishing was very tough due to low water conditions, temperatures and the weekend crowds.  Pete is a very nice gentleman, and a very good fisherman.  I wish him the very best in his future fishing endeavors.


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Brad Demink and I met this morning at LROs and we were off for a half day trip on Little River. Brad had some experience at fishing for smallmouth bass and other fish on the Great Lakes. This day would encompass some small stream fishing under very low water conditions and water temps that are getting pretty warm. We started off with lots of flies hatching ,but only small fish were feeding on them. We had a dry fly on , but there didn't seem to be a whole lot of interest in it. We switched to the trusty Blackbird and after some initial casting work, we were onto fish. Brad caught a good 1/2 dozen small to medium sized rainbows and made himself look pretty good by early afternoon. I was proud of him because he had mastered many new fishing techniques throughout the day. This is the way that I like to see new fly fishermen develop. They start the day off with more tangles than they have ever seen in their life. By the time we have finished, they are catching fish and doing much better at their basic skills. What a way to enjoy the day in the mountains. I hope to see Brad again in the coming year and I wish him good luck on the Great Lakes.

If Carolyn or I can be of help, just contact us at:                                           


Phone Number:  423-586-6198 or



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