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Welcome to the River Journal! It's my intention to post trip reports, events and happenings of interest, and some" how to" articles ranging from fishing techniques to boat repair. I have been a full time professional guide here in East Tennessee for the past twenty years and our main focus is still being on the river helping others enjoy the fascinating and endless pursuit of fly fishing. I will try to do updates at least bi-weekly but if I get behind it's probably because we're out doing what we love..chasing trout!  While you're here be sure to check out the archives for past posts, the picture galleries, and the guide service information page if you're interested in booking a trip with us. If you have questions, suggestions, or something you would like to contribute to these pages email me at, or by signing the guestbook at the top of this page. I'd be happy to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the read..Mike Bone


Spring 2016

2016 is starting out to be a pretty good year! Warm weather has moved in early and the rivers and rainfall are at normal levels. It's still March so anything can happen, but so far, so good! We've be en fishing all the trout sections of the Clinch and Holston rivers in the past couple of weeks and things are looking promising. It's a bit early yet to see any hatches, but the fish we've been catching are in great shape and appear to have been eating pretty good over the Winter! I'm looking forward to getting the season started and what better way to kick it off than a picture of Kae holding a nice Clinch river rainbow! See you on the river soon!! 





River Journal 2014 Video Slide Show..

What better way to kick off the 2015 guide season than with a wrap up of the season before. I was asked to do a presentation for the Clinch River chapter of Trout Unlimited recently and even though I had all but quit doing presentations, I readily agreed because of my involvement with these fine folks, and all the good work they do for the river and fly fishing as a whole. Shortly after hanging up the phone however I began to consider what I actually had to show them! Inventory came up with one very outdated slide in, about slide, about next slide, get the picture. So I sat down with my hand me down Macbook from my daughter and began putting pictures and music together and although its obvious I'm no Ron Howard..I think it came out pretty good! Good enough at least to be something I plan to do at the end of each season. I'm  sure there is a way to upload it here,  but until I figure out what that is,  you can view it on YouTube at the following link....

Im pretty excited about the coming 2015 season for a number of reasons which I will be publishing in following posts. In the meantime think Spring!! 



Business as usual on the Clinch..

How can you tell it's Spring on the Clinch? The hills green up, the sulphur hatch begins, and the poachers show up. Now we're not talking about your clandestine, under the cover of darkness type poacher. These guys violate the regulations in wide open areas during the middle of the day, near parking lots in full view of God and TWRA, and apparently have no fear of retribution from either. God is a tricky call, but in the case of TWRA the lack of fear is justified. Now mind you it's tough, for the past month the water has begun generating at 2 PM, everyone wading the river has the choice of either exiting or drowning. Most take exiting. Everyone coming out must walk up the bank to get to their cars just like the guy in this picture we took yesterday. If you wait until 4PM when the water has been running for two hours to swing through the parking lot our good friend the poacher will be at home enjoying an over the size limit trout dinner. However our friend the poacher could justifiably state that he didn't see any signs stating there are regulations..all the paper signs tacked to area trees have been torn down, like every Spring. Wouldn't it be nice if we had some permanent metal signs in place like the ones that abound on the Caney Fork and South Holston rivers. Guess somebody has to be the red headed step child of cold water fisheries, might as well be the best quality holdover river in the state. Welcome to the Clinch, patron river of nobody gives a damn.


Is it Spring yet??

Well no..probably not, but at least we've begun the countdown! January was a rough one for us here in East Tennessee and I guess for most other parts of the country. Record cold temps on at least two occasions, busted water pipes, and not much chance even for the most insane of Winter fly fishers to get on the water. The good news is there hasn't been a whole lot of rain like last January and the lake levels have remained normal if not even a little low. All we needed was a little warm weather. This past Sunday we got it. With temps climbing close to 50 degrees and TVA water schedules looking favorable, we headed out to the Clinch for a preliminary run to check things out in the lower river. I was joined by my old friend, long time fishing buddy, and ex owner of the Creel fly shop in Knoxville, Scott Rodgers. Scott and I don't get the chance to fish together much anymore so we were both looking forward to hitting the river Sunday morning.
Despite the wind howling at times, Scott, I, and another fishing fanatic Sam Lewis all managed to land some fish, with the nicest one being the rainbow in spawning colors you see Scott holding in the photo. Although fishing was relatively slow at times the fish we were picking up were in great shape, not a lot of stocking has occurred yet, at least not in the lower sections of the river so most of the fish we contacted were all holdovers.
I was definitely encouraged by what we saw and with a little help from Mother Nature, we should have a great Spring on the Clinch!



Better late than never! In case you haven't heard the smallmouth bite is on! Water levels are finally down on our rivers and popper fishing has been great! 'Ve been chasing them the last two days and it has been some of the better surface fishing I have seen in a long time. We've been casting smallish (size 4) poppers pretty much all day long and have been catching some really nice fish. Now don't get me wrong, I love to streamer fish, but seeing a smallmouth smash a popper has very few equals in the world of fly casting. The best part about popper fishing is your normal trout gear works just fine. Weight forward floating 5 or 6 weight lines work well and you don't even have to worry about soft presentations. My normal popper routine goes something like this..plop the popper onto the surface, hard enough to make a small splat! Let it sit a few seconds until the ripples subside and then give it a small twitch with the rod tip..let the ripples subside again, and then begin a jerky retrieve for a few feet, pick it up and start over. Most of the time hits come shortly after the popper hits the water. Sometimes in ripples smallmouth with chase and hit it on the retrieve but most of the time bringing the popper all the way back like a streamer is a waste of time. SPLAT..REST..POP..REST..SHORT RETRIEVE..REPEAT!
Give it try..I guarantee you the first time a smallmouth destroys your popper, you'll be hooked for good!