Taking a canoe would also be an excellent move. You don't get quite the same perspective as standing in a drift boat, but you can easily reach a few choice spots that would be impossible to wade to. I wanna say Happy Hollow is 6 miles from the dam but please don't hold me to that. I would put in at the dam just as they shut off the generation and follow the water down to the first major shoals - about a mile?? - opposite some bluffs and fish there till you can't take it anymore then move on down to some of the deeper pools for a real kick. Drop a vehicle off at Happy Hollow on your way to the dam and you're good to go!
Thanks for the info. I will do that soon.
That's what my dad and I do. We drop my car off at the Happy Hollow ramp, and drive up to the dam, fish under the dam until daylight (last trip he caught a nice ~24" brown under the dam), and start floating down the river. There are a few really great spots on the way down to Happy Hollow when spin fishing, but I'm not sure about hotspots with flies. I'll find that out soon enough, I've got my fly box ready to go minus the midges I have to purchase.
Don, we need to make a fishing date!
To all- what is "bead head?" I don't want to sound like a complete moron when buying flies. And do I have to buy size 12 and smaller? They seem ridiculously small.
A good friend of mine lives right by Happy, retired & does shuttles if you don't want to drive 2 vehicles, with the price of gas,a shuttle is cheaper & you can get updated info
Give me a shout at 615-321-4069 if you'd like his number.
Got to Happy Hollow about 3pm. Water high but falling. Fishing was good. I did better with bugger type patterns. Midging activity was light. Lost a very good fish to a poorly tied knot. I've been trying some new knots recently and obviously wasn't paying close enough attention to this new knot. It is not how many knots we can tie, but how many do we have confidence with.
"Bead Head" refers to a small metal or glass bead placed on the hook right behind the hook eye prior to tying the rest of the fly. metal beads are most commonly silver, copper, and black in color while glass beads can be just about any color you can think of. In addition to providing an approximation of the head/thorax of an aquatic insect, beads provide additional weight to help get the imitation down in the water column and into the fish's feeding zone. Tungsten beads do this very nicely. Some glass beads are lined with a silver flash material that, when submerged, can simulate an emerging insect's gas bubble.
Next time you tie into a 24" fish, take a few minutes to pump it's stomach. You'll be amazed at how tiny the bugs are that make up the bulk of the stomach contents. Midge larva and nymphs are incredibly tiny but they're so incredibly abundant that a feeding fish can afford to find a comfortable spot in or just outside the current flow and wait for the stream flow to bring it's dinner to it like Lucy and Ethel working the conveyor belt!
The bigger the fish, the less energy it wants to expend in pursuit of food, so you'll often see them on the bottom just lazily drifting a little left... then a little right... you rarely see a large fish make a mad dash to the surface and leap out of the water to catch a miniature bug - there's just not enough reward for the effort. They'd have to expend more energy in pursuit of that bug than they'll take in by eating it. Smaller fish will make spectacular leaps out of the water while chasing an emerging insect because for their relative size its a smaller expenditure of energy. This also explains why you'll often see a large brown following your lure or chasing a woolly bugger a good distance... bigger reward that outweighs the expended energy!
So, yes. If you're going to try fishing midges, generally speaking, the smaller the better. Last fall I pulled a decent sized brown out of the Caney on a size 30 black thread midge with a red wire - no bead - on 6x tippet! Imagine my surprise The most common mayfly nymphs can be successfully imitated in sizes 18 and 20, so midges in size 24, 28 and 30 would do quite well.
And THANKS Gerry! That helps a lot, but as soon as I get on the water all of that is going to go right out the window. To be honest, I've looked at some of my larger fish's stomachs, and they contained smaller fish, a lot of the Powerbait I was using (trying to get more into fly fishing, bare with me!), and algae (accidental, I'm sure). I can count the number of times I've had a fish above 14" with insects in it's stomach on two hands. It's odd fishing with a hook that can barely be seen. But all I've heard about fishing on the Caney with flies are midges and nymphs, I bought a nymph assortment from Dick's and they're pretty large, maybe size 8 or 10.
Unfortunately, a nymph assortment from Dick's probably won't do you much good on the Caney. As far as I know, there are no major "hatches" on the Caney so your nymph assortment probably won't match anything that lives there. But if it's "buggy" enough it might work. Unlike the South Holston, which is known for its Sulfur hatches or the Watauga which is known for its Caddis hatches, the Caney doesn't yet have a "Major Bug" that is dependable and predictable season after season. So a "nymph assortment" wouldn't have any relevance to the Caney since there are no substantial populations of bugs that evolve from nymphs. To put it another way, The Caney is not known for its prolific hatches of Cahills or Hendricksons or March Browns or Blue wing Olives or Drakes (Green, Golden, Eastern, Western or any other variety), but it is known for its aggressive, fat browns. Why would that be?
Did you ever wonder why the really big fish in a quality fishery are brown trout and the rainbows tend to run a distant second? Somebody please correct me here if I'm wrong. As I understand it, adult brown trout are primarily piscivorous, whereas adult rainbows and brook trout are only partially. In other words, as brown trout approach adulthood, their diet changes to include fish and crustaceans in addition to insects where rainbow and brook continue to feed primarily on aquatic insects. So a brown trout will follow and attack a Clouser minnow imitation out of need, as a food source, but a rainbow or brook will follow more out of curiosity than a distinct need to feed on a "fish". When you're spin fishing, for the most part you're using artificials that are intended to represent or imitate the activity of various "bait" fish which will attract primarily brown trout. Woolly Buggers kind of confuse things since they can be seen to imitate leeches as well as small batifish...
So the downside of fly fishing in small mountain streams and tailwaters is that, for the most part, the artificial you're using is designed to attract rainbows first and adult browns second. Browns will hit a BHPT (Bead Head Pheasant Tail) as aggressively as any other fish, but a rainbow will be more interested in a properly presented size and color BHPT or midge pattern than a Clouser minnow in any size or color. Does this make sense??
Lemme try one more analogy. Browns and rainbows are both meat-eaters, but browns are a bit more cannibalistic than rainbows. Rainbows and brookies prefer insects as their diet staple whereas browns will eat insects as well as other fish and crustaceans.
So, with fly fishing, (especially on a river like the Caney) its kinda like you decide in advance what you're going for and you adapt your "bait" to meet your needs. If you're primarily going for big browns, you'll throw a lot of streamers or "fish" and "crustacean" imitations, but if you're going for rainbows you'll concentrate on throwing a lot of insect imitations. In the case of the Caney, that means mostly "midge" imitations because there doesn't yet seem to be any dominant nymph population.
Now, at the risk of pi$$ing of Paula and a few of the more vocal members of this board, I'd like to offer a thought or two on the great debate of fly fishers vs. the rest of the world and vice versa.
Let me preface this by saying that the problem with generalizations is that they are too general... and this is clearly not intended to pi$$ off any one or any group of individuals. Just my thoughts on the matter (which has been hashed out before on this board).
The "bait" of choice for a fly fisher-person is a thing designed to look, act and be worked like something that is a part of the fish's natural diet. The "bait" of choice of a spin fisher-person is a thing that is somewhat designed to look like something that would be part of the fish's natural diet and is worked generally like it is attempting to flee. So far we're both fishing along the same lines. Bait casters use natural (sometimes some certainly unnatural) food items that may or may not be a part of the fish's normal diet -- but they generally will just let that bait sit, and wait for an opportunistic fish to come along and take the bait...
I think this is where the debate starts to get ugly and charges of elitism start to fly. IMHO... to be successful, the sport of fly fishing requires that the fisher-person first think like a fish. To be successful, a fly angler has to study and understand the lifestyle and habitat of his quarry, to be able to both select and present an imitation that (hopefully) represents or resembles a food item that the particular species of fish he/she is going for will bite on. That's a lot of work and time invested in that fish before even making the first cast. Spin fisher-persons and bait casters rely more on flash and evasion or blind luck than a serious understanding of the entomology, habitat and lifestyle of the fish. To put it another way, a successful fly angler will study a body of water and be able to put together a plan of attack that is based on the fish's wants and needs and lifestyle and then implement that plan in a way that is minimally intrusive and in a sense works with nature, whereas spin anglers and bait casters in the same setting tend to rely less on knowledge and more on luck. This may be the core of that "elitism" thing. It's not the catch and release issue, it's that fly anglers feel they've invested more time and effort into understanding their prey and should therefore be granted a loftier spot on the ladder of angling success.
It's kinda like a few years ago when the entire medical community looked down on chiropractors. Medical doctors looked down on chiropractors primarily because they felt they had put in far more time, effort and $$ to earn their right to be called "doctor" than the average chiropractor had. It didn't matter that the chiropractor might just be doing something that worked... chiropractors had just taken a short cut to get a license that entitled them to be called "doctor"... a license they felt was phony. Today, thankfully, the medical profession has finally begun to accept chiropractic as a legitimate medical practice/field and many medical doctors have even begun to refer patients to chiropractors and/or include chiropractors in their practices.
Have I jumped the tracks here completely?? I don't think so. In our own sport - Fishing - we've seen some real blurring of those old traditional lines. I've been on the Clinch at times when the only way you could tell who was what was by getting a good look at the rod they were swinging. From a distance the techniques of fishing the Clinch are nearly identical for both fly and spin anglers. And the increasing popularity of warm water fly fishing, I think, is the result of the fly fishing community recognizing the knowledge and the abilities of the spin fishing community. For years now the fly tying community has been stealing materials first developed by spin fishers and adapting them to the needs of the fly fishers. There's a kind of cross-pollenization going on that will further blur the line and, I hope, further reduce this notion of "I'm better than them just because..."
Incidentally, my own chiropractor is a bait/spin fisherman and he regularly kills them on the Clinch. I've taken some good advice from him and I'm really looking forward to taking the opportunity to fish the Clinch with him once he gets my back fixed!!
Last edited by Gerry Romer; 06-29-2008 at 01:03 PM.
Dang Gerry, what a post! I am trying to get into fly fishing, so is that not enough for the purists, that someone wants to come try out their sport? I know in paintball, I love it when kids come over from airsoft (rivalries) and try out paintball. I'm not ignorant, and I really want to learn. I'll take a picture of my fly box later, I also got a grasshopper assortment, streamer assortment, and some others like brown and black wooly buggers.