Friday, July 26, 2013

Searching for Elivis

Elvis Shaking Dem Hips
What do two steelheaders do when they find themselves in Tennessee? They search for Elvis of course. ….. Well not the hip shaking, pelvic gyrating, ladies’ man that made Memphis famous, rather the head shaking, line ripping, non-anadramous red-headed step child to the Northeast Striped bass.

Yes, Tennessee is well known for Bill Dance and BASS Pro Tournaments, Tailwater Browns and Rainbow Trout and numerous warmwater species, but Striper fishing has always intrigued me. Though not native to the area, this non-native species has been introduced and flourishes in many of the rivers and reservoirs of the South. The Tennessee state record is sixty five pound six ounces and forty to sixty pound fish are caught in the Cumberland River every year.

Striper Photo: Brian Chou

Stripping and swinging flies for stripers is not an easy game and though similar to their Northeast cousins, it is not the same, or at least that is what I have been told. Striper fishing has always been on my list regardless of location. Fishing for them as a child, I never caught one of size or on the fly and finding myself in Tennessee I finally got my chance.

This year the rivers and reservoirs were filled, dams were pushing water higher than normal and decreasing our odds for fishable water.  Weird, kind of used to them odds. But despite the conditions, Brian and I were able to find some fishable water with some assistance from our friend Mike Anderson.  I have heard striper guys are a lot like steelheaders in the Northwest and after all, I had to give it a try.

Mike Anderson Photo: Brian Chou
Brian had fished for stripers in the Northeast, but fishing for them in Tennessee was a little different. From what I gathered it falls somewhere in the middle of streamers fishing for trout combed with tactics gathered from Northeast striper fishing. Oh that and our flies where larger and had the colors of shad and rainbow trout that were stocked in these river systems.  The local live bait fishermen also used trout for stripers, ugh. Over the years it appears that they have learned to love the stocking truck.

Check! Photo: Mike Anderson

The patterns used were basically clousers hybrids, but with the size of saltwater flies I had only fished in Baja. They were tied on 4/0 hooks with mega large dumbbell eyes. The retrieve was purposeful and erratic with pauses between every other strip.  These flies were matched with 9-10 weight fly rods and 350-500 grain shooting heads with 20-30 pound leaders.

Fishing was tough but despite Elivis’s perfect conditions to hide, we found a few. I wish I could compare them to their anadramous relatives, but found the fights to be full of heavy head shakes, strong steady runs and at times, backing. Though 9-10 weights were heavy, on the larger fish, the backbone helped to gain leverage, especially if one sounded under the boat. Though they never jumped, the smaller ones would thrash a lot at the surface.

Yes, the Fish Was on the Other Side of the Boat Photo: Brian Chou

This is easily a fishery I wish I could find the opportunity to fish more. Tennessee really does have a vast variety of fishing opportunities as well for numerous species to catch on the fly.  The cultural heritage and Country Music History makes of the Tennessee a well chosen location to vacation with family and friends and one I will return to in the future.  Searching for Elvis was just the icing on the cake for a great family vacation.

Elvis Photo: Brian Chou

On another note, not that far away.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Chou is excellent with the Camera!