September 2015 Newsletter from Trout Zone Anglers
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Fall Is Almost Here!

The best time of the year for fly fishing, fall features crisp cool nights, campfires, brilliantly colored leaves and flowers, oh, and the trout are colored great as well.

While many people would argue that spring is the best time to plan a fly fishing trip, and I won't even try to argue against that claim, my personal favorite is fall. The temperatures are normally cooling off by late this month and the humidity levels start dropping significantly as well. The trout seem to know that the seasons are changing and feed heavily to store up body fat in preparation for the lean months of winter. Dry fly fishing is nearly or even as good as spring and the fish are colored up for the season.

If you love fall fly fishing or if you have never tried it before, find out in this newsletter some great places to go and also learn more about how to approach your quarry during autumn. Also check out the article with tips on taking better photographs of the fall colors. These tips will help you throughout the rest of the year as well!

Middle Prong of Little River in autumn

Fall Hatches in the Smokies

Fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains is great for rainbow, brown, and brook trout during the autumn months.

While many people think of spring as the best time for dry fly fishing in the Smokies, fall features some good hatches and the normally low flows of fall are conducive to rising trout. A variety of caddis, including what we locally call October caddis in #8-#12 (not the true October caddis you see out west however), blue-winged olive mayflies ranging from #18-#24 little yellow quills #16, and perhaps some mahogany duns #16-#18 are all around. Yellow sallies #14-#18 and slate drakes #10-#12 (Isonychia mayflies) may still be holding on from summer as well to keep things interesting. And never, ever, forget your terrestrials when fishing the Park. Inch worm and ant imitations will work up to the first hard freeze and even after, fish will retain a memory of these delicious morsels. Of course, midges always abound in Park waters regardless of the season.

My preference when fishing a dry fly is to fish either an Orange or Yellow Stimulator in sizes #12-#16 depending on the stream and what I'm trying to match. An orange Elk Hair Caddis in size #12 is another good option as is the Yellow Neversink Caddis in #14-#16. If you see fish rising but don't see a discernible hatch, try a blue-winged olive parachute #18-#20 or even a midge emerger.

If you don't mind dropping a fly off the back of your dry fly, consider a small bead head nymph to increase your odds of hooking up. Zebra Midges, caddis pupa, small pheasant tails, and a variety of other small patterns will catch a good number of fish.

Because the fish are usually in lower water, extra stealth and longer casts are often necessary. When there is more water around, I'll often fish 4x to my dry fly and 5x on the dropper. With low clear water, use 5x to the dry fly and 6x to the dropper. If you fish a small blue-winged olive or midge, use straight 6x tippet and skip the dropper. Pick rising fish and work them individually. A guide helps in finding the rising trout.

For some reason, certain pools often feature rising trout while the next pool up or downstream is seemingly devoid of life. A guide can help you take advantage of little nuances like that and may mean the difference between fishing dry flies to rising trout or blindly covering water and being happy with only one or two fish.

The ability to spot fish is essential so don't forget those polarized sunglasses. If you have a hard time seeing fish, take part of your day to just walk and look or even sit on a rock by the stream and observe for a while. You will be surprised how not fishing can actually improve your skills as an angler.
Fall fly fishing in Little River

Take Better Pictures of Autumn Colors

Use these tips to get more out of your fall photography.

Shooting good photographs of the autumn colors is not necessarily as simple as looking through the viewfinder and pushing the shutter release although neither does it need to be difficult. Try these tips to get some better pictures the next time you are enjoying the fall colors.
  1. Use a tripod: This tip applies to every season and unless you have incredibly quiet hands, you will get much crisper images by using a tripod. In the absence of a tripod, consider natural objects that could serve as a tripod, or if you are like me, use your hip pack or backpack as a good platform to put your camera on.
  2. Underexpose your pictures: I know this one sounds a little crazy, but if you use evaluative metering (normally standard on most DSLRs), the camera will actually encourage you to overexpose those bright colors. The bright colors will often be too bright if you just shoot in automatic mode, so put that camera into manual mode and either speed up the shutter speed or increase the f-stop to allow less light into the camera (or both). Your camera should register that you are slightly (not too much) underexposing the scene. It is much easier to increase the brightness after the fact than to try and take it away.
  3. Get the smooth water effect: High f-stop and slow shutter speed are how to accomplish this trick. See the photograph below to see what I mean by smooth water effect, but when you want water to have that glazed look, you have to use long exposures. At least 1/15 of a second and preferably much longer. See tip #1 before attempting.
  4. Spend time looking for shots: This probably should be obvious, but as fishermen we too often get locked in to our fishing and forget to enjoy the scenery around us. Many of my best shots have come when I'm either guiding, or not even on a fishing trip. The truth is that we get so involved with our fishing that the beauty of our surroundings go unnoticed. Carrying a camera while fishing is a good way to help but you still have to stop fishing long enough to look around.
  5. Always carry your camera: This is the corollary to #4 and should also seem obvious, but I have unfortunately missed some fantastic opportunities because I didn't have a camera with me. You never know what you will come across in daily life, so keep that camera handy!
  6. Shoot early or late: This applies year round, of course, but the golden hour first thing in the morning and right around sunset is your best friend. It makes for some pretty sweet fish shots as well. Notice how the big brown trout (main subject) in the second picture below is lit up by the setting sun while the secondary subject, the angler, has his face in shadow. This makes the fish pop out even better.
  7. Don't cut off your subject: I see so many photographs that could have been great except the top of the angler's hat was cut off or something else is missing. It is much easier to crop later if you have problems with getting the whole subject into the frame. Look around the edges of the picture through the viewfinder and ask if you cut off someone's arm, hand, foot, or perhaps a fish tail. There is nothing more frustrating than a hero shot missing part of the fish!
  8. Use the rule of thirds: This is basic photography 101. Imagine drawing lines bother horizontally and vertically across your picture dividing it into thirds. Place your subject near the intersection of these lines for a stronger photograph. Notice on the second photograph below how the angler's head is near the top right third of the photograph and the trout is in the bottom left third. That balance helps make a strong photograph.
Use these tips and focus a little on your craft and watch your photographs start to look great the next time you are enjoying the fall colors with a camera in hand.

Tailwater Angling in Fall

Fall sees some of the best float trip opportunities of the year.

With cooler temperatures, spending a day in the drift boat is much more comfortable than it was in the heat of summer. In fact, during October, November, and December, wearing waders usually feels great. We've traded in the Chaco sandals and shorts for Goretex, fleece jackets, and even hand warmers on some mornings. Hot chocolate in the thermos will warm you up even when it is cold out. Because the larger rivers we float are tailwaters originating out of a dam, the water maintains a constant temperature and produces great fishing on into the cold months.

October and November sees the brown trout spawn and during this time as well as the post-spawn period of December and January, large brown trout are sometimes caught by lucky anglers on float and wade trips on the tailwaters. The large brown trout above came on a fall trip. Streamer trips in November and December can be a great idea if you want to chase these hungry post spawn trout and if the water levels cooperate.

Tailwater trout will eat a variety of patterns but the staples of midges, sow bugs, and favorite nymphs will keep the fish steadily coming to the net. Each day may feature a different flavor of choice so change early and often if you aren't catching trout. With your midges, you should go through a large variety of color schemes before discounting them altogether. Here are some ideas for effectively fishing a Zebra Midge.

Guide Trip of the Month

A stealthy young angler enjoys a fantastic day of terrestrial fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

August normally sees people heading back to school, but one lucky angler received the gift of a guided fly fishing trip in the Smokies from his parents for his high school graduation. Since it was almost time for him to start his next level of schooling, he needed to get the trip in before fall.

With low flows and spooky trout, I was not sure what to expect, but as it turned out his casting skills were up to par and his ability to sneak around the stream were superior to most other anglers. His other favorite pastime is hunting so it does make some kind of sense.

To make a long story short, Jordan took a day with tough conditions and put up some excellent numbers of both brook and rainbow trout. We fished beetles almost exclusively so the takes were extremely visual and exciting.

We will still be fishing beetles up in the Smokies for another month or two so if you want to try your hand at this exciting terrestrial fishing, contact me to schedule your day on the water.

Streamer Floats Still Producing Opportunities for Large Trout

Recent streamer floats have not been great in terms of quantity, but some fish have always been caught and opportunities for big fish have been had.

On a trip this last week with my buddy Tyler, I saw what was possibly the largest trout I've seen on the Caney Fork ever when it rolled on the fly he was working (a PB&J of course). Unfortunately it didn't connect with the hook and despite the fact that we tried, we never could get that fish to come out and look again. Fortunately, I know where he lives and will be back again!

Tyler had the excitement of catching his first trout ever on streamers and is definitely hooked, pun intended! I'm guessing we'll be streamer fishing again soon.

Other streamer floats this month have also seen some nice fish including this chunky rainbow (below) caught on a trip by angler Nathan Stanaway. 
Interested in a guided fly fishing trip with Trout Zone Anglers? Visit my website, or email me at You can also call/text me at (931) 261-1884. 
Copyright © 2015 Trout Zone Anglers, All rights reserved.

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