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Fishermansfly 12-27-2006 08:35 AM

Guided Float Trip
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

Re: Guided Float Trip
:) 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.

kytroutman 12-27-2006 10:04 AM

Re: Guided Float Trip
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

Re: Guided Float Trip
'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

Re: Guided Float Trip
:) 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

Re: Guided Float Trip
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

Troutman 12-28-2006 01:14 PM

Re: Guided Float Trip
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 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.

kytroutman 12-28-2006 02:23 PM

Re: Guided Float Trip
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.

RFowler 12-28-2006 02:26 PM

Re: Guided Float Trip
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.

RFowler 12-28-2006 02:41 PM

Re: Guided Float Trip
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.

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