If you live in the Southeast and are looking for good trouting this winter, you could do a lot worse than the Hiwassee river. Bugs are coming off everywhere, the fish are eating the bugs, and it's all good right now.
Winter stones were on the water in decent numbers yesterday, skimming across the surface like drunk ice skaters and getting nailed by trout. Noisy, splashy rises punctuated with flashes of silver and pink. A big bushy dry fly twitched and skated caught fish. For awhile anyway. Then the BWO's started coming off too and the trout, for reasons of their own, switched to these tiny flies.
I've never understood this. The trout have the choice between a huge, mouthful of stonefly steak awesomeness or a tiny BWO popcorn kernal, and they pick the BWO. Maybe BWO's just taste better, I guess. Trout have been doing this for thousands of years, so they have this sort of thing pretty well figured out and don't need my input. But still.
So suddenly the dry fly was a no-go. The trout for the most part began to completely ignore it. And the splashy rises were replaced by quiet swirls and dark noses poking up here and there. Ok, fair enough. I tied on a #20 PT, fished it in the film, and was back in business. I did go back to the skated fly every now and then because, let's face it, that's the very best way way to catch trout.
I had hoped to try out some new nymphing methods, and I did that with some success, but when the bugs started popping and the fish started rising, well, I'm a weak man.
So we caught fish and plenty of them. I expect this will continue for awhile. The shad kill should begin any day and this annual gorge-fest will produce some fat healthy trout. The next 4 or 5 months will see the Hiwassee at her best.
|Joe "Toons" Alissandrello working a run.|