I had the pleasure of guiding Dan from New Jersey and Ed from South Carolina for three consecutive days. Dan and Ed were former work associates from back in the day and they have maintained a friendship for over forty years. For quite some time and on an annual basis they get together and make a trip to somewhere across the globe to go on some kind of fishing adventure. It so happens that their  trip this year was going to take place here in East Tennessee with River Smallie Adventures. Dan had contacted me back in the winter and wanted to know if there were any top water fly fishing opportunities for smallies on the rivers where I guide. I told him that there certainly was, but that greatly depended on the weather and water conditions. Cloudy overcast days offer the best opportunity for success with top waters, however, I have had some great days with poppers even when it was bright and sunny. I contacted Dan a few days before and painted him less than a rosy picture for their upcoming trip. TVA had been running two generators or more for quite some time at Douglas Dam and due to the lack of rainfall the Little Pigeon River was extremely low. I do all that I can to make sure the clients are aware of what the fishing conditions are like and I have no problem suggesting that we reschedule a trip for a later date when I hope that the fishing conditions will improve. I did share that the conditions can change hour by hour on both rivers making one unfishable today  and it can completely change the next a day when you need to be on the water. Even armed with that less than inspiring information Dan and Ed decided that they were going to go for it and give it a shot. We hit the water at 7 am on day one and were greeted with foggy conditions and no wind. Fortunately, TVA was not going to run two generators or more until the middle of the afternoon which afforded us the opportunity to fly fish with top waters on both rivers. They fished with poppers for the first couple of hours, but it was just one of those days where the fish just wouldn’t commit. They would rise up to take the fly, but would short strike or just nibble the back of the fly. Granted some of those were smaller fish, but it became quite apparent that top water was not going to be the chosen method of fishing this day. I said that live bait by far was the most productive method for putting fish in the boat and offered up that option. They both agreed to “go ugly” and stop fly fishing. Over the next several hours they managed to catch seventeen smallies. The bigger fish were on the feed today and nine out of the seventeen were between seventeen and nineteen inches. Day one was in the books and we all were happy that the conditions allowed them the opportunity to wet a line and catch some quality East Tennessee river smallies.

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