Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fishing with a legend, Bob Clouser

This past week I had the honor to take one of the legends in the fly fishing industry, Bob Clouser and his business manager, out smallmouth fishing on the Holston River near Kingsport, Tennessee. The weather conditions and water temperatures were not at their best for this float trip, but after getting in tune with the fish and river we were into some nice smallies throughout the day. The water was 49 degrees when we started and there was a cold rain. Trying several colors of flies in one of the better pools on the river gave us a quick answer the the color the smallies wanted, chartreuse. They took these flies aggressively. As you can see it was a day of good sized hard fighting fish. Not only did we get smallmouth bass, but we got some nice largemouth bass in the mix.

Getting the call to take such a legend out on the river makes you nervous and you over think everything leading up the the day of fishing. Bob Clouser is such a down to earth person that he puts you at ease quickly and just wants to be one of your good friends out on the river for a day of fishing. To watch him work the fly rod and flies was a excellent learning experience for me as well. I am a good guide, but there is always room to learn more and Bob is an excellent teacher. He showed me some things that I had been overlooking and this will make me a better guide and my clients will benefit from this as well.

When you come to Troutfest or any other event where is is in attendance, go talk with him and thank him for his contributions to our sport. I am glad that I can now call him a friend and fishing buddy.

Randy Ratliff
Troutfishers Guide Service
Orvis Endorsed Guide

Sunday, March 21, 2010

South Holston and Clinch March 16 thru 19, 2010

My best friend Wade came into to town for a few days to do some East Tennessee fly fishing. He had been working a bunch and really needed a break. We really lucked out with some great weather and excellent fishing. Also another buddy joined us for a couple of days from Indiana. It's great getting on the water and sharing old stories all over again.

Wade and I have a really bad habit of planning fishing trips too early in the year and having to fight blizzards, tornado's and severe thunderstorms. Just name it and I'm sure it has ruined at least one of our past fishing trips. The fishing gods must have been watching over us this trip as the weather got better and better.

Day one and two we headed up to the South Holston. The blue wings and black flies had been hatching in abundance. We got up early, ran into traffic, but made it on the water by 10:00am. Nymph fishing started the day off until the dry fly fishing got good and we switched to a blue wing with a black fly dropper.

We stayed at Holston Castaways, which gave us access to some great wade fishing water. Check out their website at Holston Castaways. They are great people and have really fair prices and perfect fisherman accommodations. Also on the second day we stopped in at Webb's Market for some Breakfast/Lunch. We fished too long in the morning so all they had left was a little bit of biscuits and gravy, so we finished it off with their famous slaw dogs!

Day three and four we headed back to Knoxville to do a little fishing on the Clinch. I have been fishing the Clinch a bunch the last year and wanted to show it off to my friends. The fishing started off slow, but we eventually figured it out.

Small pheasant tails and zebra midges were on the menu. We saw a few sulphurs on the water, but not many. There were a good bit of midges hatching in the afternoon. However I couldn't get them to eat the same midges we used on the Soho, but a size 22 zebra below a dry would get an eat.

Day two we opted to do some wade fishing instead of drifting. We started at the church early until the water rose and pushed us off the water. For lunch we stopped at Harrison's off of the exit and were surprised to find some great wings and good beer on tap!

At the end of day four we all convened on the hill at Miller's island still reminiscing about past fishing trips and stories when we were a little wilder or do I mean dumber. Either way we survived it all and hopefully there will be many more to come.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trophy trout sight fishing

Have you ever wanted to sight fish trophy trout in the 7 to 15 pound class. We have the waters for you to check this off your bucket list. There is nearly 15 miles of water on five different streams that can offer you this opportunity. It is not chucking and ducking with big stuff, these fish feed on the natural environment around them and you have to match the hatch as well as make those needed casts to get them to bite. If this interests you, give me a call or email and lets get you on this water.

Here is a sample from yesterdays trip, one of eight hooked in this class.

Randy Ratliff

Sunday, March 07, 2010

And it begins...

Some folks say that they don't care if they actually catch fish. I am not quite so Zen in my approach. I hate to get Skunked. I really, really hate it. That being said, some of the best, most memorable days I have ever spent on the water were days when I only caught one fish. Maybe the conditions were lousy, and it was an epic struggle to get the one. Maybe the fish were being persnickety and it took all day and all of my skill and luck to catch that fish. Maybe I forgot some important piece of equipment and had to improvise. But these one fish days are the ones that always stick out in my mind. Today was a one-fish day..and it was wonderful.

It was a really long winter. The Tailwaters were blown most of the time, I am not a huge fan of fishing for stockers in the various Delayed-harvest waters, and while you can fish the Park all winter long, it isn't the most productive winter fishery and we have had so much rain that it has been blown a good deal of the time as well.

Niki knew that I have been out of my mind from cabin fever. It is already weeks later than we typically get to fish the National Park for the first time, but the weather this weekend was supposed to be fabulous and for once the forecasters were right.

The first trip of the year is always a bit of a mixed bag. Today was no different. The water level looked perfect, 200cfs. It was crazy-clear, but that is to be expected when the water temp is in the upper 30's low 40's. There was still snow on the ground in the shady spots and North-facing slopes. There was a solid brown stonefly hatch along with a smattering of blue quills and other unidentified mayflies.

However first trip of the year is more about promise than results. The fish were sluggish, they were certainly not rising, there was a short window of opportunity when the sun was on the water and warming things up. This time of year we always want more than the river will give us. We were given just enough to remind us of how good it will be in just a few weeks.

But the day was special because I got to spend it in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, I got to spend it with one of my best friends and favorite fishing partners, and in the end I caught one fish. It was a really nice 12" rainbow that took a Prince Nymph that I was high-sticking deep in a slower slot downstream from the Sinks. It will almost undoubtedly be one of the bigger fish I catch all year. And that one fish will still be special after the dozen fish days, 30+ fish days, etc. which I know are just around the corner.

H. Clay Aalders

Monday, March 01, 2010

SoHo wading

It has been good wading the past week on the South Holston near Bluff City, Tennessee. It has been Mercer's Micro Mayfly in the soft riffles. The rainbows are colored up and spawning. Those beautiful deep crimson red stripes and fins make you truly appreciative of God's work.