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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Small Stream Stealth

A good friend, Mark Law, recently came down from Nashville to hit a few small streams in Eastern Tennessee with me.  Mark and I hadn't been able to fish together in almost a year.  It was far beyond time that we spent a day or two on the water.  Mark is a good fly fisherman and is familiar with areas of fly fishing that I am not, such as saltwater.  However, he rarely gets to the blue lines up high in the mountains.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times he has fished headwaters.  I can't blame the guy.  The nearest blue lines that hold trout are 4 hours from him and with several good rivers in his area, it is difficult to get motivated to travel the 4 hours to the mountain tops around here, not to mention the cost in fuel etc.  Mark arrived a little late in the day, but we were not to be deterred and set off for the mountains of East Tennessee on a mission.  I had high hopes for our day in the mountains and decided to let Mark do most of the fishing and thought that I might do a bit of instructing in the way of some gentle advice.  Now, advice is fine when you are catching fish and are happy.  It's not so wanted once a person has become frustrated due to the many pitfalls of small stream fishing. 


There are many issues that occur when taking on a small stream.  I know what you are thinking; "issues to fishing a tiny mountain stream?"  Yes, these streams are small, clear and the fish are very educated and very wary.  They aren't large fish by any means.  The average fish in these mountains is around 8 inches long, at best, but they are a joy to catch on a good 2-4 weight rod, at least in my opinion (and the opinion of hundreds, if not thousands of others).  We started off well enough.  The very first run I was into a nice little 8 inch fish that fought my 4 weight like he was an Alaskan steelhead (Ok, a bit of an exaggeration).  He was soon off and I thought that it was going to be a good, if not epic day for us.  After watching Mark fish several runs and not catching any fish, I started observing his tactics.  Knowing that Mark was not very familiar with small stream tactics I thought that perhaps I could help him with a few choice words of wisdom;  "Be quiet, go slow, don't wade into the water unless you have to, hide behind a tree or bush if you can."  He seemed to be able to employee most of the tactics, but not all of them at once.  We spent several hours in frustration with only a few small fish to hand.  Many people assume that small streams are easier to catch fish in that large rivers and I think that idea couldn't be further from the truth.  Small streams, especially well fished small streams where the fish are educated via heavy pressure, are some of the most difficult waters to catch fish in. 

We ended up catching one decent mountain brown and a few smaller trout.  Even though we struggled a bit, it was still a good day on the water with a good friend.  Maybe one day we can get to some salt water and Mark can educate me on the tactics that I'll need to catch a few permit, or bonefish or perhaps a tarpon or two.  I think Mark came away with a better understanding of fishing small streams and will improve greatly with a little practice.  Either way, it was a good time with a good friend. 

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