View Full Version : Guided Float Trip

12-27-2006, 08:35 AM
Allright let me get right to it! I got a pretty awesome xmas present from the family! A guided float trip on any east TN, or western NC river system! So my question is this, Which river system would you pick to float and why specifically that river system? Keep in mind my father and I don't regularly get the chance to float and this will be our first ff float trip. I want the trip to be an educational one. I know every river system has it's differences but i'm looking for the one that contains everything from etomology to river specific techniques and technical ff. Basically I'm looking for the key (river system) that will open the pandora's box of all river systems. Which river system offers up the most and why? I know it's a broad question with many possibilities and I'm sure any river system would be good I just would like to get the most from this trip.

Oh I almost forgot to mention this trip will probably be in the early spring but I'm open to any other suggestions!

I certainly look forward to any responses from the great message board group!

Hugh Hartsell
12-27-2006, 10:02 AM
:) Fishermansfly, you have really asked a lot from one particular river system. There are several that could possibly fit into that catergory, but---they all have their own particular little nuances that can make them special at a given time. The thing that is going to be a real problem in finding what system is best may be weather and generation schedules. We could point out the ones that are special to us and if the water levels are high and TVA or the Army Corps says "we've got to dump some water" then that system will not be so good. I'm going to step out on a limb and give you a couple of rivers that will probably be the best systems at the time of the year that you mentioned. Those choices being mentioned, there is still the possibility that another river may be better at the time you get ready to fish. The Holston River below Cherokee Dam will be my first choice. A close second would be the Hiwassee River. Right behind that would be the Watauga River. All these choices might change if the trip is done a little later in the season. Each of these rivers are special and have their own ecosystems and fly hatches. Some of the others are just as good if conditions are okay at that time of the year.
Hugh Hartsell---East Tn.

12-27-2006, 10:04 AM
As much as the stream itself, the guide is very important, especially if you are interested in this being an educational trip. Personally, all you have mentioned have their own little special traits about them, although a specific guide can point out things that are often overlooked by many, including those who fish those streams on a regular basis.

Gerry Romer
12-28-2006, 12:16 AM
'Bout ready to throw this brand new laptop out the window >:( I have tried 6 times to post a reply and each time the overly-sensitive touchpad sends my reply into that great junk heap of unfinished replies in cyberspace before I've finished typing it.

Giving it one more try.

Let's broaden our search parameters here. What I think Brett's really looking for here is a question of etiquette. What's the best way to approach a full-day guided trip?

Having fished with Brett almost every weekend this past spring and summer, I can tell you that what he wants more than anything else right now is to tie into a large (16" - 24"), wild, brown trout :o That was the primary inspiration for the gift certificate. In a way he's looking for the most productive water, but what I think he really wants to know is: What's the best way to use a qualified guide?

Do you tell them what you hope to get and then just follow their lead? Do you ask them to cover as much water as possible in one day? Do you tell them that your heart's desire is to hit a Smoky Mountain grand slam in the same honey hole on only three casts?? Do you ask them to work on a specific style or technique such as nymph fishing vs. dry flies? Do you ask them to critique your casting or your ability to read water?

In short, since this isn't a class we're talking about, how have you folks handled this situation - i.e. your first guided trip? And we'd also like to hear from some guides. What's your favorite kind of client? Fully-knowledgable? Somewhat knowledgable? Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced? Do you prefer a client who gives you a goal and then defers to your expertise in stalking and capture or would you rather spend the day in a give and take with a clent? How do guides function best??

Input from all, please ;)

Gerry Romer

Hugh Hartsell
12-28-2006, 05:54 AM
:) Gerry, since you phrase the question in a whole different set of desires, wishes, cicumstances???--- this changes the answer quite a bit. First of all, it changes the stream to the South holston River if you are looking for a "16-24 in. brown trout". That might not be the best stream "at that time of the year" if you are just wanting a good day of fishing. To be able to catch a fish of the size that you mentioned, really changes the way that a guide would handle the way that he looks at the client. The average flyfisherman, off the street, would really have to have a lot of skills to just even be able to get a fish of that size to hit a fly. Handling a hooked fish of that size really gets into the highest of skill levels for any fisherman to have. Unless you're streamer fishing, you will probably be using a 6X tippet and that really narrows your chances of landing a fish that size down to about 5-10%. I don't know what Brett's skill levels are, but I do know that almost 95% of the clients that I take out need to have a considerable amount of work done on their casting and mending techniques. This is something that takes almost all day to get smoothed out, but when you get to where you can make 50-60ft. cast smoothly and mend properly afterwards, your chances of hooking a nice fish will go up a great deal. I think what I'm trying to relate is that if you have to work these other matters out while you're on your first trip, then asking to hook a real nice brown may take a few trips to get to that level. If he already has good casting and mending skills, he starts off with a great advantage. The guide only has to provide the right flies and show him where the fish are lying, or some that are feeding. The chances then go up many fold.
* This what most guides would do. Brett could tell the guide what he is wanting to do and what his skill levels probably are. The guide would either advise Brett to work on his casting and mending skills before they hit the water or he would immediately check Brett out when they get to a river and start working with the areas that need any improvement. That would probably happen in a wading scenario before the float starts if it's needed. He would also talk about insects and how to determine what the fish are feeding on "ie.dries or emergers" and how to tell the difference. He would show Brett the flies to use for each circumstance and how to present them. When this area is smoothed out , they should be ready to fish. This helps the client and also shows the guide any area that might need some work or attention.
* To get back to the original question, the time of the year will make a great difference on which river will provide the best fishing and I should note that the possibility of catching a large brown on the South Holston River will be much better a little later on in the summer when the Sulfurs start hatching in earnest. June or July are better months. The rivers that I mentioned first will be better in the earlier part of the year for just good all around fishing. I hope this answers some of your thoughts.
* *Hugh Hartsell---East Tn.

Gerry Romer
12-28-2006, 11:38 AM
Thanks, Hugh! I think this is the kind of input/feedback that Brett's looking for. Very helpful. He obviously wants to get the most out of this trip and is prepared for either a full-day wade trip or a full-day float trip. He just wants some help figuring out the best way to do that and what to expect.

Any more guides want to throw in their 2, 4, 6, 8 cents worth?

Heck, we'd even take a penny's worth ;D

Gerry Romer

12-28-2006, 01:14 PM
I vote for the Holston river. There are several local guides who float the river but probably none more than Tim Doyle. He has a reputation for putting people on good fish. I would contact him at smokymountainfly.com. He also floats the Tuck in NC where you can find some big browns! *I like the Holston river because it is a good yearound fishery and I like to flyfish for anything. The Trout and Smallies are abundant but you can also fish for bluegills and carp. The river is full of caddis so there is good dryfly action thoughout spring and summer. The smallies get good in July thru Oct. If you want to learn a lot of different techniques on one river give the Holston a try.

12-28-2006, 02:23 PM
I have never been guided by Mr. Hartsell although he has an excellent reputation. I have fished with others, and would definitely second Tim Doyle, especially if you like to mix up a trip of trout and smallmouth. Tim also knows where the larger fish hang out and will work with you to at least hook one of them. The landing part is up to you.

12-28-2006, 02:26 PM
Spring? Holston. Why? The Holston is a blast in the Spring with all the caddis. Who? Hugh Hartsell (because Hugh knows that river) or Tim Doyle would be good choices. But, considering what you're looking for, wanting a broad experience, I would say wait and fish the South Holston during the sulfur season. Why? I don't want to go into a lot of details and post photos but let me just say that it's something you'll want to experience. Who? Scott Lewis (Alpha Trout Outfitters) Scott knows the river like a brother. He has a Biology degree and is always on top of what's going on up there. Want to go with someone that will teach you just about anything you want to know about flyfishing and have a trip that rivals just about anything in the country? This would be the one for you. If you really watch what's going on you won't believe it. ;) The South Holston has been dubbed one of the most techincal tailwaters in the country by many folks.

I guide but I had to leave Tennessee last year to help my parents out. Scott would be my number one pick for something very much out of the ordinary.

12-28-2006, 02:41 PM
I just read your response. I agree 100% that client skill has everything to do with where and when you take someone. If casting and mending skills need a lot of work then the Holston would definitely be a better choice. Even during the sulfur hatch on the SoHo the guide needs to anchor the boat to fish risers. Casting and mending come into play here more than anywhere else. 2500cfs, conflicting currents, and discerning fish can test the skill of any angler. But, and this is a big but, it forces one to up their skill or go home.

This narrows it down to 2 things. If you want to learn flyfishing, go to a DH like the Tuck. If you want to learn trout and their environment, go somewhere technical like the South Holston.

12-28-2006, 03:15 PM
*Scott would be my number one pick for something very much out of the ordinary. *

Well said Rusty

12-29-2006, 08:30 AM
Were getting warmer! *My father has hit on a few key points. *It's a broad question I know. *A fly fisherman can agree with me on three levels: 1st It's great to catch a large NUMBER of fish, 2nd It's great to catch a LARGE fish, and 3rd and what I feel better than either is, It's great to be the only one on the water with the knowledge and experience to be landing fish when no one else is. *Don't get me wrong fella's I love to see everyone on the water catching there fair share of fish just as much! *It's good for the sport! *I love to see some of the old guys and some of the younger guys get out on the water and never miss a beat dragging in fish after fish making it look completly effortless. *Always puts a smile on my face, maybe not at that particular moment when i've been lobbing and whirling flies above my head all day without the first fish. *I guess what I'm really trying to say is, it isn't particularly about a large fish, that day will come, but a technical river system that offers up constant change in stratagey, technique, fly selection etc. *After thouroughly thinking the questions through in my previous posts I'm come to reasoning behind my questioning. *One river system, the Clinch. *My father and I have mad several trips to this tailwater with minimal to moderate success. *When ever you ask a fly shop about technique and or fly selection the first reply you hear is "Well it depends on where your fishing." *So that being said my father and I have really only tackled the wier section to the face of the ****. *Maybe that will clue some of you all into what i'm trying to say. *

So what I'm really truly asking for is a tributary that offers up a strong challenge with many variables like changing water and properly reading the good hides, a change in fly selection from section to section. *A true anglers nightmare tributary, yea.....that's what I want.

Basically I'm looking too take a lot or even a little expierence gained from a more technical tributary that will allow us apply those moments of experience to shine through in another tributary. *Another notch in the ol belt as they might say!

An early happy new year to every one! Cheers and thanks to all of you for your many well thought and well phrased reply's! *I always look forward to logging on and checking what you guys have to say! *Special thanks to Hugh, Fowler, KYTroutman, KC, and Troutman for your input! *Look forward to some more replies hopefully, maybe, this will help! :o :o :o :-/ :-/ :-/

12-29-2006, 11:36 AM
Randy would also be great choice,fine fellow and very knowledgeable.


12-29-2006, 03:56 PM

The Clinch isn't the same river it was 3-4 years ago. I have several theories but no concrete scientific facts. The downturn started in the summer/fall of '04 with the systems that came through from the 4 hurricanes. TVA ran water at an almost constant 2 generators for 6 months solid. TWRA started a capacity study around the same time as well. They were (may still be) doing growth rate studies on fingerlings as well. The Clinch is a put and grow fishery. Couple that with the capacity study and that's why there are so many of little guys. It's almost all little guys up around the Millers Island area. Those little fish mainly feed on emergers. The trouble with that is they key in on movement. Most tiny (down to #30) midge emerger patterns have poor movement because you can't put on much material. Try to match the hatch as closely as you can and put movement on your flies by making small strips. Most takes will come just below the surface. Use a long leader and fish slow.

I was fishing with Rockyraccoon around 4 years ago and caught a 17", an 18", and 19" on three progressive casts right beside Millers Island. Now, unless you put movement on your flies it's hard to even catch those little midgets. Try some tiny streamers as well.

The lower river is more like it used to be but it's still off. I floated it with a friend last week and we caught several nice fish up to 15-16 inches. It used to be more like 18-22".

The didymo started making a showing back in '04 as well so who knows whats going to happen in the future. In the meantime, it's more important now than ever to have an almost identical match to what's coming off. Fishing pressure has increased as well. From flyfisherman to meat fisherman. I've seen it pounded by bait guys bringing stringer after stringer of very nice fish, day after day. A slot limit would be very beneficial on this river unless there's a problem with growth that we don't know about. Although, the bugs seem to be there. I can't really make any real accurate opinions, though. Because I have spent very little time up there in the past year and a half. A smart move would be to take a seine and do bug samples.

If you want to learn the technical stuff then contact Scott Lewis. He will teach you stuff that will make you a better technical angler.