last wednesday i got up at 4am and headed over to the Clinch River above clinton, tn. i had heard there were some nice trout in that stretch of river, and i was there before sun-up to try my hand. it was brrrrr cold! close to freezing that morning and i could see my breath. i fished the old zebra midge nymph which i had had so much luck over on the caney fork a couple weeks back. fished it hard for an hour and not so much as a bump. switched to a pheasant tail and also no luck. i didn't even see a fish in the water, only some "pops" on top which looked to be small fish of some kind. finally the sun came up over the hills and i was drenched in warmth. there were several pairs of large geese all around me which would start honking loudly. i thought they might be upset at me and perhaps i was too close to a nest or something. they'd come screaming by 2 feet over the surface of the water but there target were other pairs of geese which apparently invaded their space. so, the four geese would head up river honking loudly with the two being chased apparently fleeing for their lives. they'd come back in 45 minutes or so and repeat the process. also saw a bunch of deer on both sides of the river. some nice big white tailed doe.
well, i was discouraged. since the dam was going to start generating at 8am, i figured i only had another hour or so before the water got down this far, and i decided to change locations and try fishing up by the dam. i walked all the way back to the truck, where i bumped into a nice guy and i jokingly asked him, are there any fish in this river? he said, yup, and some nice ones. i was just too early he said. the sulphur hatch doesn't start til 9:30 or 10 and will last a couple hours. can't beat it he said. so, i downed a pilsner and some almonds and retraced my steps back upstream. sure enough, a *big* sulphur hatch was on (size 8!) and the fish were rising all over the place. they were hitting the emergers and the adults. i tied on a pheasant tail nymph which was the same color as the adults and caught a nice rainbow. but the top-water action was so fast and furious i tied on a caddis fly (i didn't have any sulphur flies :( ). well, i just started bustin the shit outta some trout now! aaa-eeeee! i worked a nice 50 yard stretch of river that i had all to myself for awhile. eventually, some guys fishing below me were watching the action and started moving my way. unfortunately, i had to take a dumpski and hated losing my position, but i had to go! i was surprised the guys downstream respected my space and i eased back into the water to resume the action where i left off. but the trout had stopped hitting. more specifically, biting. they were just coming up and smacking their tails at my fly and knocking it under. they must have gotten full or knowledgable about me and my fly. by this time, there was a guy just below me looking to move up, so, since i had a nice run to fish, but was no longer hooking them, i eased upstream and let him take over (i looked back later and he was indeed catching some, and very happy). as i moved upstream into some more or less featureless water i did notice a couple of submerged bolders with a nice current between them and a big hole just downstream. aaah, there must be a big bow in there i thought. so, i made a cast (for once a decent one) and got a nice drift right between the rocks. sure enough, just over the whole a fish emerged and BAM! he nailed it. wow...it was a whopper. he jumped out of the water, where i saw he had a golden belly (a real nice brown trout) and when he hit the water he dove under a and my line snapped. the whole thing didn't last 5 seconds. i let out an involuntarty 4-letter scream which i am sure the whole river of fisherman heard. not only did the big brown steal my fly, he also cut my leader about half-way up which meant i needed to retie my tippets. i waded up to the whole, and there i saw a big rock, which surely the fish was hiding under to keep out of the noon-day sun. it had a sharp jagged edge at an angle, about perfectly made for cutting a fly line. what a crafty old brown. i bet he was 20-24 inches and fat as a small pig.
anyhow, it was a glorious spring day and my first day of really good dry fly fishing in TN. i will take some pictures on my next trip and repost them to this article. the river was absolutely gorgeous. tight lines my friends.