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  • Matt Reilly


It's hard to believe, but it's November, already. Fall has been here for more than a month, and it's starting to feel like it. We've had threat of snow and several frosty mornings. The season has changed, and so has our day-to-day. Smallmouth are in the rearview, and our big-fly brown trout and musky hunting is on the horizon.

I ran my last smallmouth trip of the season last week, and our water temperatures are already in the mid-40s on several different rivers. This time last year, the same rivers were a full 11 degrees warmer. The fish are still in transition, feeding and moving around in the river before water temperatures concentrate them solidly in their wintering holes for the next few months. That means that they are difficult to pattern, at the moment, and their activity level fluctuates with the water temperature, day-to-day. The last few days have required low and slow presentations with crayfish and big baitfish in water adjacent to winter water, and when we've been able to do that, we've put some nice fish in the boat. Still, things are slowing down, and I'm shifting my focus until spring.

One of my primary focuses for the next few months will be fishing streamer flies to brown trout on the tailwater rivers of northeast Tennessee during high water releases. When fishing these larger flies for predatory brown trout, we are not targeting numbers of fish, but looking for the large, dominant fish that inhabit these rivers. The fishing can be flat-out tough, some days, but a quality streamer day can change an angler's life forever. The best way for an angler to approach a day of streamer fishing is with focus, and the expectation of spending a day on a beautiful river, receiving an in-depth education in one of the most visual, addicting, and effective techniques for targeting our rivers' largest trout. Both of these rivers also offer the bonus opportunity of striped bass, that sometimes take trout streamers and put up a tremendous fight.

We've seen all of this, already, this year. My first streamer float of the year gave up about a dozen brown trout, along with a 35" striper that engulfed a 5" streamer next to the boat! High water releases have been pretty consistent during the week, and the streamer bite has been decent most days. However, the weather has been fluctuating widely the past few weeks, and most of the rain and dark weather that often creates great streamer fishing conditions has disappeared from the forecast. Still, even in the absence of great conditions, we've put some nice fish in the boat. Bobby and Buck from NC came out this week to learn streamer fishing techniques, and both put great fish in the net!

The mountain stream fishing, as always remains fantastic. Though we still have low water levels, in the right water, the fishing has been fast. Around the end of October, water temperatures dropped enough to push the fish low in the water column and make it more practical to approach the river with double nymph rigs rather than dry-dropper and shallow nymph setups, changing depth and weight before fly. The only annoyance has been the influx of leaves on windy days. That will be behind us, soon, though. The winter months are some of the best of the year to pursue wild rainbows and browns in our fertile limestone and freestone mountain streams. Give me a shout if you'd like to see it for yourself!

I'll start running musky trips again in late-November, once the transitional period peters out and the fish are firmly placed in their winter locations. I've been out scouting for the season to come on our days off, this month, and have seen a few fish in the boat, already. If you'd like to hunt the fish of a lifetime, let's talk!

I look forward to fishing with you!

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