White Top Laurel

Several club members attended the recent trip led by our notorious Trip Leader JD Forrester.  Milton Sams, Ed Chamberlin, Phil Sehenuk, Dave Lash and I traveled to far southwest Virginia in search of good times, good fishing and good food.  Luckily, none were in short supply.  We planned on being there from April 22nd through the 28th.  While not all folks were able to be there the whole week, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  Time makes its demands on us all (some un-retired folks more than our retired brothers…) so we were fortunate to have as many as we did for as long as we did.  This is especially true given the distance by car.  It took most of us 5 ½ to 6 hours to get there.  Believe me when I say, it was worth the trip.

White Laurel JD Forrester

The primary fishing location was White Top Laurel Creek in Virginia.  The creek flows into Tennessee and all areas fished well.  By fishing well, I mean that a 15 fish day was about as slow as it got.  There were certainly several folks that exceeded twice that.  Having said that, the river was not giving up her fish easily.  The mornings were generally cold (upper 30’s to low 40’s) and the afternoons would get into the 60’s and 70’s.  You all know what that means…  The mornings were spent either straight nymphing or using a dry dropper combination.  While you can’t call the catching active, everyone caught fish before lunch.  On several afternoon sessions, risers were seen and switching to dry flies proved effective.  As far as nymphs go, the Hare’s Ear, a BH prince, and a soft hackle seemed to work consistently well.  Light Cahill’s, Adam’s and March Browns were good flies for the afternoons.   Highlight fish of the trip were JD’s 18 inch Brown caught on a Hare’s Ear and my 15 inch Rainbow on a Light Cahill.  The majority of the fish in this creek were in the 9-12” range.  JD got the Smokey Mountain Slam on Friday with Brook/Brown/Bow.  That was the only Brookie I heard about being caught on the trip.  Other fishing opportunities awaited on the Beaver Dam, Laurel Creek and the Middle or South Fork of the Holsten.  There is so much un-crowded water that we never left the White Top Laurel.

White Laurel JD Forrester

Let me take a minute to describe the river we fished.  By Blue Ridge/Smokey Mountain standards the White Top Laurel is big.  Many places were 30 to 40 feet across with lots of pocket water, long deep runs and lots of riffles.  The banks of both sides of the river are dense with Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel.  We were probably a couple of weeks away from full bloom, but I can imagine that would be quite a sight to see at the right time in the Spring.  Along one side of the river was the Virginia Creeper Trail which is a highly successful Rails to Trails project that coincidentally was land donated by my employer.  The trail is gorgeous and gave easy access to the river while making for comfortable hiking as well.  Dave brought his bike so he was covering a lot of ground in a short time.  While there is a lot of overhang that provided good shade to much of the river, it wasn’t so much that it made casting a nightmare.  I will say that JD was not unhappy that everyone was losing flies at a 6-8 per day rate.  I know he will get an order for replacements from me.  The Appalachian Trail came through much of the areas we fished so we ran into a lot of outdoorsmen.  The closest town, Damascus VA is known for its support of the trail and the hikers that walk it.  As a result, there were some decent places to eat, and good outfitters.  Despite anything JD may say, there is a well stocked fly shop close to Abingdon called the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop.  The proprietor, Bruce is both knowledgeable and a genuine pleasure to talk to.

I believe these trips are one of the major things that separates our club from so many others like it.  To say the least it can be difficult to throw together individuals with divergent backgrounds and tastes and expect then to get along well.  Without exception, every trip I have been fortunate enough to go on has been a real pleasure.  This trip was just like that.  Everyone pitched in on the cooking, cleaning and the most important part, stories and drinks around the campfire.

Special thanks to JD for pulling the trip together in the first place and ensuring we had more delicious breakfast than we could possibly eat.  No thanks to Seahunt for the hamburger he didn’t cook Ed and I just because of a little rain.  Nothing like processed ham on a piece of bread when your mouth is watering for a burger grilled in the woods…  Thanks to Ed for the scrumptious Red Beans and Rice with Keilbasa we had on Tuesday.  No thanks to Kubota for making me drag an extra tent all the way to Virginia on the chance that he might join us (we missed you dude!).  Dave, Thanks for the Thai Shrimp Stir Fry.  We ate like kings.

Do yourself a favor and get on one of these trips.  You will have a blast and possibly make some new friends, learn some new fishing tricks and store some long term good memories.

Michael W. Greene

First of all I want to thank Mike “MGD” Greene for the great write up. He was completely true in what he said except for the fly shop. I must warn you that if MGD or Ed Chamberlain go searching for a fly shop, it would be best for you to go another way!

We had a fantastic time together and White Top Laurel did nothing to change my mind as the best wild trout stream in the Southeast. In fact, I think we were 2 to 3 weeks too early or it would have been mostly a dry fly time. Still it was a great time on the stream. For example, you see a large rock in the middle of the stream and it looks like good holding water is on the right. If I can just put the fly above the rock and get a 12 inch drift beside the rock, then maybe something would give the fly a look. Luckily for me I got a good drift and bam, got a 14 inch brown. It doesn’t get any better than that!

The only thing wrong with the trip wrong with the trip is we did not have more people. (Kubota, where for art thou? Are you alive?) You are really missing out on fun by not going on one of these trips.

JD

May is a good time for mayflies on the Chattahoochee?

While mayflies hatch year-round on the Chattahoochee the month of May is when anglers can expect to see the first great emergence of larger mayflies like Light Cahills, Quill Gordons and Hendricksons to name a few. These three species occur in better numbers  on the lower river downstream of Morgan Falls Dam but do also exist in sparse  population densities extending upstream on the 35miles north to Buford Dam.

From Morgan Fall Dam  down to Paces Mill anglers should be prepared to imitate adults with dry flies as the hatch cranks up with trout often keying in on one size and one color. On the upper reach it is best to imitate the nymph stage with larger pheasant tail nymphs in #12 down to #16 hook sizes.

The Chattahoochee River tail-water has approximately twelve species of mayflies which include all four behavior types or styles of this species in the larval stage which include burrowers, crawlers, clingers and swimmers. These behavior types will help anglers narrow down their selection process while choosing the right nymph and fly fishing tactic. Matching the Hatch by Ernest G. Schwiebert, Jr. is an excellent guide to mayfly hatches and tactics in North America.

As a good general rule of thumb if you see mayflies on the surface but no fish rising it is best to try to match as close to the size of those adults with a nymph imitation with an initial “dead-drift” then a final swing or “Leisenring Lift” as your fly quarters downstream . When fish begin rising you will likely see these larger more visible mayflies actually get eaten by the fish which will allow you to make an obvious choice to switch to dry flies.

Tight lines, Chris Scalley

Club member Gregg Goff competes in Trout Tournament

I was in Helen, GA, March 29th and 30th (Friday and Saturday).  The town’s annual trout tournament (24th overall) was held Saturday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Tagged trout were worth $500, $250, $100, $50, and $25.  The higher the dollar value, the fewer trout were tagged.  No one caught the sole $500 tagged trout.  So, next year’s jackpot will be worth $1000 (rollover with this year’s $500 jackpot).

At check-in time, there was one $250 trout, one $50 trout, and about 10 $25 trout.  I was one of the “$25 trout” anglers.  Something is better than nothing. All tagged trout were rainbows a minimum of three (3) pounds!  Thank you Tellico Trout Farm in Tellico, NC.

I will spare the many details of the layout of the tournament format.  I consider it worth noting that the tagged trout are stocked at different points in the Chattahoochee River in Helen after midnight the morning of the tournament so that no angler knows the exact location of the fish.  Untagged trout, rainbows and brookies, were stocked the day before by the Georgia DNR to assure plenty of fish would be caught (brown trout would be caught, too).  Only tagged trout (again, all tagged trout were rainbows) needed be brought to the check-in.

The one I caught was a 20-incher between three and four pounds.  I gave it away to a family since I was not able to keep it alive at check-in time.  Otherwise I would have clipped the tag and released it.  I kept it alive till check-in time, but then it died for being out of the water for so long.  🙁

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It was a lot of fun.  Admittedly, I did not know what to expect since this was my first competitive fishing tournament.

Everybody around you looks at you when you hook a fish!  Everybody wants to hold it, touch it, get close up view of it, especially the kids and teenagers.  I do not mind.  Showing your catch at a tournament is part of the fun.

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Toccoa River – Fishing Report

I have made a few trips recently on parts of the Toccoa River above the lake. I was able to really take advantage of the full DH section with the last trip starting way upstream a few miles above VanZandt’s Store by using the little 12′ Stealthcraft driftboat. My first two outings were for two to three hours on Saturday and Sunday about three weeks ago. It was only my second time to use the boat while fishing, so there were still some learning experiences…all passed safely and with no YouTube evidence. Both days I managed to catch quite a few rainbows, brooks and a few browns. Despite it being a weekend with many other waders, I was able to hit less wading accessible waters AND NOT hit any waders. I admit, I did have visions of my hitting waders like bowling pins as I ineptly floated at the mercy of the river. But I managed pretty well only bumping a submerged rock once or twice each day.

But the best day came last Thursday, March 28th. Rob Kissel drive down a day early for his pending Chile fishing trip and met me in Blue Ridge. The guys in the rod and flyshops suggested that with my little boat, the flows were sufficient to put in above VanZandt’s and take out at Sandy Bottom Canoe Launch. After Rob spent some time with Bill Oyster “test” casting Bill’s new bamboo proto-type (a HOLLOW bamboo rod), we finally left for the river.

Rob Kissel

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As the guys said, the water above the DH held and/or produced fewer fish, but it would have opportunities for perhaps bigger fish. The DH section would have numbers of fish. When Rob would occasionally have to re-tie, I would pull out my 6wt sink tip and dredge the deep channels. This rainbow was 21″. Rob managed this nice one just a bit later. THEN he hooked into a fish I told him he couldn’t land because he didn’t have a salmon tag. Unfortunately as he tried to get it to the net boatside, it broke off. It had to be at least four or five inches bigger than mine. After that he kept saying, “This was fun. We gotta do this again.” True to the guys’ words, we didn’t get very many above the DH, but they were some hosses. The wind picked up, the clock spun fast, and we ended up rowing through a lot of water to get to the DH section in good light. Strangely, as warm as it was we never saw rising fish. Next time!

Tyson Reed

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Tyson Reed
AFFC Membership Chairman
706-346-4600

The right flies for fishing the Provo River in Winter

As many of you know, I enjoy fishing the Provo River, especially in the winter. For this trip, I asked Michael Orr to tie a number of flies for me as I was short the typical fly patterns for winter fishing.

This is a great time of year to be fishing western streams as the crowds are much lower and you catch large fish with the only downside being a little cold weather.  There are some amazing midge hatches this time of year which I’ve experienced in the past as being fantastic in the middle of snow flurries.  Your best bet during winter fishing on the Provo river is to fish size 20-24 adults and emergers with a light rod.  Fish feed on adult midges in the afternoon hours and so its not unusual in March to have so many Buffalo midges on the surface that the trout can’t find your fly.  Sparse midge, baetis, and sow bug nymph patterns have been taking some great fish throughout the entire river, as well as soft hackles. Streamer fishing has been productive during the low light hour, early mornings on both the Weber and Provo rivers.

Flows in March are at about 150 cfs out of Jordanelle Reservoir Dam which should continue at this low flow until spring. Wading the river at this flow is very easy; accessing both sides of the river is a breeze! The Middle Provo fishes very much like a spring creek at these flows, which can make for some technical and highly rewarding fishing. Using Flourocarbon leaders and tippet in 5X or even 6X makes a huge difference when nymphing. I suggest fishing small dry flies on a 9-12′ leader with 6X or 7X Supple-Flex tippet.

Now this is where Michael Orr comes in.  I asked Michael to put a box of both adult and emerging midges and baetis flies together for me.  I contacted one of my guide friends out west who gave me a list of local patterns. Many of you may see Michael off in the corner at our club meetings selling flies, but I would like to encourage you to use him for outfitting a box of flies for any of your trips this summer.  The quality of his flies are amazing.  You can reach Michael at
Michael Orr Flies

See this month’s  photo album for more pictures.  These flies were tied by Michael Orr.

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Box of midges

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Chattahoochee Winter Trout Fishing

This 2013 winter fishing season could prove to be some of the best angling ever on the Chattahoochee River tail-water! Many anglers have been disappointed this past 2012 during the fall through Christmas time frame because of the high flows released from Buford Dam making fishing and access almost impossible. These excessive flows were badly needed down-stream in the ACF watershed to help replenish water-tables with the 100 year drought conditions.

The good news is that Lake Lanier is extremely low and it will likely take months for the Army Corp of Engineers to fill the lake to Winter & Spring-rule curve levels. This means Buford Dam will release primarily minimum flows about 650 Cubic Feet per Second(CFS)** for the remainder of this winter making for mostly ideal and safe fishing conditions on the entire 48 miles of trout water.  Please note that the Corps will release or “burp” the lake with the occasional one to three hour releases which will cause dramatic fluctuations (5 – 9feet water level rise and fall) during this time. Please visit www.Atlantaflyfishingclub.org  for a river safety flow chart.

Anglers should call Buford (770) 945-1466 or Morgan Falls (404) 329-1455  dam release schedules and visit their web site http://water.sam.usace.army.mil  Also, anglers should note that excessive rain events will cause high muddy flows from storm-water run-off and may need to migrate upstream to find low clear water above blown-out tributaries. A good plan “B” or “C” is to go to Buford Dam where the water is always clear but anglers MUST wear a PFD from the Buford DAM to GA Hwy-20 Bridge. For a free hatch chart for selecting the right fly for winter angling go to www.chattahoocheefoodwebs.org

**Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) – a rate of the flow, in streams and rivers, for example. It is equal to a volume of water one foot high and one foot wide flowing a distance of one foot in one second. One “CFS” is equal to 7.48 gallons of water flowing each second. For example, if your car’s gas tank is 2 feet by 1 foot by 1 foot (2 cubic feet), then gas flowing at a rate of 1 cubic foot/second would fill the tank in two seconds.

Tight Lines,

Chris Scalley

Float the ‘Hooch

We will have a float trip Saturday (1/12) from Jones Bridge to Holcomb Bridge. Be at the Fulton County side at 9:30am sharp. Bring your float tube, pontoons, etc. Jones Bridge also has plenty of water to wade for those who don’t want to float.

As an added bonus, Ed Chamberlain (FFF master caster and AFFC casting guru) will be giving casting lessons starting at 8:30am (Jones Bridge, Fulton County side also). Come early for casting instruction and stay to fish! What more can you want?

Since turnover has just ended, I would venture to guess that some of the flies that might work are y2k’s, zebra midge, copperhead soft hackles, Sawyer pheasant tails (and regular pheasant tails), blue assassins, lightning bugs, princes, hare’s ear, and maybe-adams and october caddis.

Hang around after the trip is over. We will go out for some vittles!
JD

The ‘Tuck is Hot!!!

This past Monday and Tuesday I was lucky enough to be invited by Bob “NASCAR” Chambless to fish the ‘Tuck. What a great two days. We had at least 80 each but it was not the number that was the great attraction, it was the number of fish on a dry and the size of the fish.

About half the fish I caught were on a dry (Adams). The first day NASCAR got a couple of nice 18-19 inch fish and I got a big boy ‘bow of 21-21 inches-on a dry! The next day NASCAR got two in the 20 inch range and I got one about the same plus a nice 17-18 in brown. NASCAR had never gotten fish this big this time of year on the ‘Tuck.

I recommend having some October caddis, Adams, black zebra midges, Sawyer pt’s, Cousin Pat’s secret fly, blue assassin, and the PB midge.

JD

Jackpot on the Saluda River!

Hey Guys, I trust you all had a safe, meaningful, and enjoyable holiday season.  My time off was made more special by the trout I caught on a guided fishing trip with Michael Frank, again.  I was home (Columbia, SC) for the Christmas, so I hired Mike to take me and  buddy out on the Lower Saluda River (below the Lake Murray Dam).  In short, JACKPOT!  I landed a 22″, 4 lbs 10 oz. brown trout.  It was the bigges trout known by the guide to be taken from the Lower Saluda.  It actually broke his record of a 21″ brown.


I caught several rainbows, too.  Two were tagged by the SC DNR.  I plan to submit the tag numbers to the DNR for accoutability purposes (as requested by the DNR).  Plus, I caught one bow on one of Craig Reindau’s chartreuse Wee Willie Wigglers.  I included two pics of it, too.

See you next Wednesday.  Happy 2013!

Take care,

Gregg