As mentioned in my last column, “She Who Must Be Obeyed” and I have been spending time in Tennessee. This trip was designed to get us out of Durango’s mud season. Well, it’s been beautiful in Durango, and, until yesterday, Tennessee has shown us six weeks of rainy and cold weather.
There has been so much rain in Tennessee that I was beginning to think this is where Noah actually floated his boat. So, with all the rivers blown out and the lakes full, deep and chocolate brown, what is a dedicated fly fisher to do?
I poured a scotch, lit a cigar and created a new game plan. I decided to fish every pond and small lake, in every subdivision, I could find.
In my new quest to fish subdivision ponds, I discovered several really cool things. First, the grass around ponds is so deep, lush and soft that going barefooted is a requirement. Next, since I didn’t have to travel long distances to find ponds, breakfast at restaurants became common place. Here I found waitresses could use y’all, sweetie, honey, and darlin’ in the same sentence. With the grass, sweet-talking waitresses and great pond fishing, what’s not to like about Tennessee?
When I started fly fishing the ponds in earnest, I found the fish in them ate the same things they do in Durango. The pan fish would eat anything that floated. I even saw some youngsters throw potato chips in a pond and then watched the pan fish just push them around. I have to admit that was fun to watch.
The bass were a bit more particular. They would occasionally take poppers and Woolly Buggers. I did fish a river with a guide and found a species of bass that I hadn’t caught in a long time; I was reintroduced to white bass. They loved streamers slowly stripped back to the boat. They would hit the fly like a ton of bricks and pretty much set the hook themselves.
The ponds were also home to carp. For carp, a heavier rod – 6-weight – was needed. They liked my green bugger tied to look like a piece wilted lettuce. Here again, a local youngster explained to me that carp really like a small bite of hot dog on a bare hook. I didn’t try that. I do have my standards.
When casting to carp, I found if I placed my fly about a foot in front of their noses they would slowly glide over to it and softly eat it. They also took a small tan foam fly.
Ponds are also home to lots of turtles. They liked the tan foam bug, as well. I didn’t find any trout in the ponds; those I found in the swollen streams. As the streams were off color, a white streamer with some flash tied to it worked just fine. I suggest you use a 4- or 5-weight for the bass and pan fish. For carp, step up to a 6-weight. Floating lines work just fine, and flies of the same size, color and material used in Colorado are great. Leaders and tippets should be 8- or 9-feet.
Since the “Wild Bunch” now live in Tennessee, I will get to come back on a regular basis. When I get back, I hope it will be when the rivers and lakes are at normal levels, and I’ll target the bass. In Tennessee, you will find large and small mouth bass, plus stripers and white bass. If it’s rainy and cold, I’ll repeat the experience above.
Just as in the other states I have fly fished, I found the people of Tennessee to be welcoming and wonderful. Also, a state where grits automatically come with breakfast and can be made into gourmet entrées with dinner, has to be high on the list of anyone who enjoys southern cuisine.
Reach Don Oliver at email@example.com.