View Full Version : Catching slump...

04-25-2007, 07:04 PM
Well, it seems that I'm in a bit of a "catching slump" this spring. I fished for several hours on Bradley Fork and some really nice pools on Chasteen this weekend, and got one 4 inch brown to show for the effort. I'm sure someone out there has some advice( and some of it probably serious! :) ) about how to get out of this slump I'm in. I've never been so skunked, beaten, down or depressed - or so fishless - since I started fishing the park nearly 8 years ago.
Any and all advice welcome. Maybe I need a new rod? ;) LOL I'm no rookie at this game, either - I'm no expert EITHER - but I usually catch my share. It just seems that this year, my share has been about a fish a trip, and a teeny weeny one at that. Plus, it didn't help that an " Orvis Catalog" walked up as I was taking off my boots, - all dejected and disappointed - and the store...errr..fellow... caught a nice 9 inch brown right in front of me! THE INJUSTICE! :biggrin:


04-25-2007, 07:36 PM
I think we have all had the "skunk" visit us from time to time. This does sound a bit ultra-skunky! We could talk forever about your choice of flies,sneakability,presentation etc... If it were me I would get with someone on the board who lives close or get a guide for the day and get a good critique. Best I can offer for now. Let us know how it goes and good luck!!

Hope you "lick" some fish soon!!

* More than likely you just need a good "CONFIDENCE BUILDER" day to get you back on track...


04-25-2007, 07:42 PM
The fishing has been a bit tuff for us average guys... I've been on a half dozen streak the last three trips. I usually do a bit better, but I don't think the fish are turned on all the way just yet. Next week should be the ticket!

Backwards Evolution
04-25-2007, 08:27 PM
Fishing for me has been spotty also in the mountains this spring. Weather, me trying out all kinds of new tackle i have made, getting on the water at not the ideal times... you name it; some days you have the deck stacked more in the trouts favor. I got skunked a 2 weeks ago, and that hardly ever happens. But there is so many factors... guess thats why we go fishing and not "catching":rolleyes:

My girlfriend and I fished Cosby on Monday. We had lots of bites, but only one fish to hand. She was bummed a little because she has never caught a brook trout... I was just as bummed, I wanted her to catch one just as badly. She had some bites but never got to see the fish. We will try another day. But it was just so good to get out and breathe in the mountains. The fish will be more co-operative another day.

I always think of when I lived in Ohio and went pheasant hunting all the time... some days the dogs would bust up birds like crazy, and other days, guns would be going off all around you but you just couldn't seem to find a bird. I would wonder if they had lost their ability to smell!:confused: I got frustrated and I think the dogs could sense it... and they got stressed too. Later I just learned to enjoy the time in the fields of gold and that took all the pressure off the pups. We still got birds, and we all had a much better time.

They averaged 9 grouse flushed a day in Montana last year... I say they still got it!

Many times a good portion of a day has gone by without any success... weather it be in the field or in the stream. And I find that if I just stop focusing on my failure... and just be glad I was able to make the trip out, that I was there fly rod in hand or waist deep in wild wheat fields with the labs bouncing and cutting... that I had all I needed. There was chicken in the fridge... This was just for fun. And more often than not, after I cleared my mind... I got a rise, and felt the weight of a nice trout; or the pups got birdy and I heard the cackle of a rooster lifting off.

Its the memories of all the times in the field that bring me back... for the chance to make new ones.

All things in time... I think you're fishing naturally. Nature is never batting 1000... I raise my beer to the reality check, the good ol' skunk! May it continue to humble me... Lest I become a self proclaimed trout fishing deity.:biggrin:

Best Regards,


David Knapp
04-25-2007, 09:11 PM
This has happened to everyone here so nothing to worry about...;) If I was you, I would do one of two things. Either drastically change methods/flies and stick with it long enough to see if it will really work. Other option, and the best one, spend some time just walking the stream. Watch for risers or fish taking nymphs and look in all water types. A year or two ago in the fall, I was fishing above Elkmont and trying my usual nymphs and softhackles which always produce well. Nothing would hit in the "usual" spots so I tied on a dry. I saw a fish rise in a spot I would generally pass up. You know what happened next, I dropped my fly just above where I saw the rise and a fish appeared as if by magic and the rest is history as the saying goes. I had an excellent day fishing spots I would normally not even glance at. Fish aren't always where we think they should be and a bit of stream observation can help find them...

04-26-2007, 12:54 AM
...we both need to make that back country trip I keep dreaming about. I've nearly got all my gear, just need sleeping bag, some time, and a bit more determination :).

I've had a few days, make that trips and wasn't as fortunate as it sound like you've been. One Thanksgiving a couple of years ago I snuck off to Helen and was only able to fish for an hour or so, never got one nip on anything I tossed at them. Of course the moment I drove up to the creek and finally got my waders on and rod rigged, a fellow on a 4 wheeler rode up and tossed a bucket full of pellets in the creek. By the time I got there the frenzy was about over and pellets remained. My best guess was the fish were too well fed to have any interest in my half baked efforts. I ended up turning around that day and driving on back to Florida.

One thing that has worked for me in the park when all else appears to be failing is to fish a soft-hackle tied with a bit of a peacock body and starling feather hackle that has been bleached and died yellow. The Sylvester Nemes (sp?) book has several patterns like this and it is a killer. I like to fish it as a dropper off a big bushy dry. Seems like the dry will often get their attention but that soft-hackle hook them more often than not. I usually tie this fly in 14 or 16 with a bit of lead to get it down. Last trip I made up to the park and fished at Treemont, I was tossing this fly into some seriously shallow runs and had one of the biggest fish ever to come seemingly out of nowhere to take that soft hackle.

My little bit of experience in the park has taught me that with the subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes in weather, fishing is at times quite iffy. Sometimes it has been so difficult for me that I wasn't even sure if a stick or two of dynamite would help :).

One thing I do know is that you're too good of a fisherman to be skunked for long. Like I said to begin with, we just need to pack it in and find some fish that haven't been so well educated.


Rog 1
04-26-2007, 08:47 AM
I agree with most here that we will all hit these rough spots....best advice is to watch, observe and don't be afraid to ask anyone else out how they are doing....most of us here have such a love of the sport that part of the love is sharing what we know....I have often imparted a little local knowledge to a new comer to the mtns and even shared flies just to allow someone to experience what we know the Park can give us....don't be afraid to try something new or fish places not usually on the menu....water conditions can often affect holding patterns and feeding lanes....one of the best days I ever had was fishing a Hornburg pattern as a dry fly one afternoon....so you never know.

04-26-2007, 10:01 AM
Don't feel like you're the only one, dude. I've fished the park for going on 8 years now and I'm catching fewer fish now than when I started. I'm not a pro by any means, but my skills have improved over time. I spent a few hours Wed 4/25 on the lower reaches of the East Prong, and Thunderhead at Tremont and have nothing to show for my efforts except a pair of shorts that are drying at the house from the tumble. I used to nymph a lot under a dry, but lately I've tried a dry only approach. I'll go through 6 to 15 different patterns sometimes, other times it will only be a couple. Presentation is more important in the park than the fly some say, I agree someTIMES and somePLACES. I don't like to be skunked, ever, but when I am it always reminds me to appreciate the times I'm blessed enough to catch a few and to enjoy where I am. The park is one of the most beautiful places on the Earth. Plus, it sure beats the stuffing out of work! Maybe I should consider reverting back to nymphs.

04-26-2007, 11:13 AM
when i'm in a skunk run, i switch from my 5 wt st croix to my 4hp honda generator.......works like a charm. NOT!

04-26-2007, 12:42 PM
I have been in the same slump lately. I get a few to rise but can't seem to get it together. But it will change it is not the first slump I have been in. Hang in there.

04-26-2007, 02:04 PM
I feel your pain. I was down on the NC side of the park a couple weekends ago, fishing Noland. I hiked/fished a little over 8 miles and managed 2 small fish. Not the ratio of miles to fish I was hoping for. The next day I fished Deep Creek. I fished a little bit more deliberate and tried to just enjoy the day. I hiked/fished about 5 miles and caught about a dozen missing maybe a half dozen more. Sometimes I just need to relax a bit and take my time enjoying what I love to do.
Other times the fish just don't want to play with me.

Good Luck on breaking out. I'm sure it will happen sooner or later (hopefully sooner.)


04-26-2007, 08:25 PM
I think a lot depends on the stream. On Wednesday, I caught 4 brookies fairly quickly on Cosby - there were all sorts of mayflies buzzing around. I then went over to the other end of the park to Lynn Camp - the same amount of mayfly activity, but hardly a bump on a dry. Finally, I was able to catch 2 small rainbows on a prince nymph - they just weren't looking up. Byron mentioned on the fishing report that the fish might have been a bit "off" before the rains.

04-27-2007, 03:19 PM
I think the big guy knows when we get over confident. February 06 after having had a good winter of fishing and catching big fish on just about any method I tried, and then catching the monster on the streamer and sink tip (just like I knew what I was doing) the end of February, I started thinking I was one of the trout "masters of the universe".
As payback for that arrogance I caught very little last summer and my fishing for winter run fish this year was way less than impressive. My catching of numbers seems to have returned ok, but still the big fish are eluding me. I think the big guy is still making me eat Humble pie.
So................... did you have a really good year last year? And maybe experiencing the same thing I have?
Let me hear your thoughts!

Flying Trout
04-28-2007, 10:31 AM
Did pretty well last year and had great confidence. Not doing so great this year. Seems when I fish a dry I can't get anything to look up. Fish a nymph I must have the wrong one or wrong place. Fish a dropper it still doesn't mean a hill of beans or fish. It'll get better at least I am not missing hook up after hook up.
Flying Trout

04-30-2007, 06:10 PM
Thanks all.

I had an average year last year I guess. I'm not a "counter" though, so I really don't know from year to year if I've had a better year than the one before. But I do know this year it's been really slim pickins! :) I've read through this thread twice though, and I'm going to try to follow the advice given. Also, thinking about it more as I read through the posts, there is one big difference that I overlooked from this spring to last spring...I hardly fished last spring...or last year...and I can't believe I didn't think about this sooner . . .

you see,....I was bitten by the sportbike bug and I spent all of last year riding the mountains instead of fishing them. Perhaps....I'm just out of practice? I always thought flyfishing was like riding a bike, and you'd never forget....but maybe i'm not being as sneaky or fishing as well as I did...wow...two years ago.

Thanks ya'll! Maybe it's just that I need time to get back into fishing form!

I hope! :) LOL

04-30-2007, 07:58 PM
With this sort of fishing, it's more similar to golf; if you don't practice your swing, it deteriorates rapidly, and it takes a while to get it back. In my case, I know that every time on the stream, I tend to miss fish early on the hookset - it takes a while to settle down.

05-07-2007, 11:49 AM
well, maybe it's not just me. A friend of mine went with me to Smokemont this weekend and we dodged the thunder and got in a little fishing.....including a 2 mile hike up BFork. nothing. nada. zip.

Between the two of us we caught about 4 all weekend, all small. Maybe I'm just onthe wrong side of the park. we fished beech flats, bradley fork, collins( caught my only good rainbow there -a bout 8 inches and fat), and the lower oconaluftee just inside the park. Saw turkeys, groundhogs, a ninja squirrel, some really strange human activity, some bear prints on a dumpster( that bear tried his best to turn that thing over! LOL ) but the fishing wasn't anywhere near what it should be according to all the fishing reports i've been seeing here and elsewhere. I've been up Bradley Fork now four times over the last 3 years, and each time I narroly avoid wearing the skunk. Next trip( this weekend) I'm going over to the TN side to try and change my luck. I even took a "lucky pig" with me, and we made bacon with him Sat night. ;) LOL

and the rain....uuuugh.

We just kept plopping flies into backeddys and between runs, then through the heart of the fast runs, along the seams....nymphs, wets, dries, everything we could think of - i even tried a san juan in brown and red... we got our few fish on a stimmie i think, a light cahill and a day-glo yellow prince nymph. every time we'd put a fly into a hole, with a perfect drift and the little guy would just drift on through, we couldn't help but talk about the fish in our fav. wild stream in GA, where anything buggy plopped(gently) into a likely holding run or backflow would get a fish - even if he was only 3 inches long.

I just hope the skunk didn't follow us home after we barely knocked him off our backs.

How about prayers for me? If you pray, how about asking if there's maybe some way I could have a normal fishing year again? ( just a thought. maybe i'm being punished. :) )