June 2001



Began on the Clinch below Norris. Water temp was as low as 46.7! Clarity 10+ feet. We started with some good gizzards that I had gotten the night before. Had one big blow up and was hooked up for about 10 seconds on about a 10-12 lb fish. Thick fog (as usual), air on the river was cold, 15 feet up it was 75 degrees. Pulled out around 9 and headed for El Rio. Put in about 10:30 and caught a 14 lber on a gizzard at 11:30.

Skipjack were noticeably tougher today. Water was stained and clarity was about 2 feet. Had a few more nibbles and finally hooked up at 3:00 with our LAST bait. The 11 year old super video game expert hauled in a 28 lb moose striper that was 40" long.

And the release:

It took exceptionally long to land the fish because it found a snag on the bottom. The 25 lb P-Line hardly had a scratch on it when the fish came up. We pulled out for dinner and to pick up the next round of guests.

Got back on the water at about 6:00. Skipjack were a little tough, but we had bait in a half hour. First spot didn't yield anything. Next spot yielded a 41" skipjack splitter and a happy guide. We hit that spot some more with no luck. Got more bait, came back up and nailed a 22 lber that I got stretched to 39" on the Blu-Water gator grip measuring board. That turned out to be all for the day. Thunerstorms loomed all around, but all we got was a light spritzing. Air temps were mid 80's early on, but dropped and held in the low 70's for the latter part of the day.



Heavy rains for a few hours today put mud in the river. Fish responded by not biting. Water temp was 67, clarity started out at about 6 inches and got worse. Skipjack were easy, but it didn't matter, the fish weren't. Tough way to get a bite.



El Rio produced 5 smaller fish tonight from 6-14 lbs. However, 4 of them were taken on artificials...very fun. The water came up at 7 and we ran up to the third set of dams and drifted back, casting the right bank descending. They were hitting bucktails with a plastic trailer. Water in the lower spot was 67, upriver it was 57. Clarity was 4 feet pre and about 1.5 feet post water. Air was warm and cold...no wind at all kept the air over the river chilled...very hard to dress for. 85 degrees on land, 60 degrees on the river. Lots of clouds, but stayed sunny. It had rained at the ramp when we got back. Good fishing and catching.



Did a little casting below Ft. Loudon off the bank because Melton Hill wasn't generating like they were SUPPOSED to. Thanks TVA for the info....not. We caught our first two fish in about 5 minutes, about 8 and 10 lbs. Jason picked up another one a little later about 6 or 7 lbs. We did as well or better than the few boats that were there. Only fished an hour and 1/2.



Hit the waters of El Rio at about 5:00. Got big skipjacks. First hook up: broke off. Second hook up: 41 inches. Third hook up: 40 inches. Big storms for a couple of hours earlier today (before I went out), lots of rain. Air temps fell from 80 to 60 and then back up to about 75. High humidity and light breeze out of the NE this evening, dying out at 7:00. From 6-6:30 is was a skipjack massacre. Fish were blowing up, tail slapping and mangling baits left and right. It was horrible. El Rio strikes again. The clarity was down to a foot, temp: 69. Tons of grass in the water. Caught two mooneyes for bait, never even got nervous, but they were still hitting skipjack up until about 8:30. Yesterday's lunker mooneye tipped the post office scale at 12.6 oz. A mere 1.4 oz from the current state record.



Started out getting bait below the dam on El Rio. Medium gizzards. Tried pulling some bait down below 'that' dam with no luck. Caught a mooneye that may be the state record, I'll let you know. Caught one 10 lber on a gizzard in the 'spot' on 'the' river. I then went for some skipjack and more mooneyes (I couldn't bear to use the potential state record for bait). It was about 6:00 and they weren't hitting anything. Buddy Jason showed up at about 6:30 and we proceeded to bust 4 quick small stripes from 8-12 lbs in about 5 minutes on the gizzard shad. That was fun. That action died, so we went for some more skipjack and mooneyes. Jason hit a 38" 23ish lbs fish on a good sized skipjack. I had two fish at a time knocking a mooneye out of the water and there was much, much surface commotion tonight. My blood pressure was up there. Total of 6 stripes and 100% action packed from 8 until about 8:45. Water temp: 57 below 'dam', 67 in Rio, clarity 2 feet (algae bloom, I think). Air temp: 80, minimal wind, crystal clear skies, sliver moon, minimal current, lots of grass and scum on the surface tonight. The fish hit excellent, I'll be back.



Took my dear old mother fishing on THE river. We acquired bait in Bull Run Creek for the trip. Gizzards are everywhere in there if you need bait by the way. Water temp was 67, clarity, 4 feet. Air was a perfect 78, light wind out of somewhere, no clouds. She caught a 15 lber (5 times the weight of her previous biggest fish), and was thrilled. I hooked up on a monster that I couldn't handle before it decided to wrap me around a snag and break off. Brand new spooled-up-the-night-before 25 lb test big game. Oh well. It was a fun and beautiful evening.



Went fishing, but can't remember what happened for the life of me. Mustn't have caught any.



I was hooked up two hours ago. Total for the evening: Unhooked 4 and cut the line once. Excellent evening of catching. Tons of action, surface hits and blow-ups, boils, running baits, tail slaps. It was awesome. Fish ranged from 18-25 lbs. No big mommas, but real drag strippers. Water was 70, clarity 4 feet. The river was way down tonight. Air was 90 and NO wind, very humid. Probably 100-120 lbs of fish in about 2 hours. I expect the fishing to be really hot for the next two months.



Conditions were right on El Rio again except for the East wind. Water temp had dropped to 71 to my surprise and clarity was 4 feet. The air was beautiful: partly cloudy clearing out by evening, temp was 83, but cooled quickly. Skipjack are very available still. Hooked up and boated a 42.5" 30+ lb fish at around 6:30. Hooked and fought another beast of a fish for about 30 seconds before he was able to saw my line in two around a snag. That's 25 lb Big Game broken like a wet noodle. Oh well. Had a few more chases and saw a couple of good fish hounding the baits on top, but they weren't hungry enough. Off the water at 8:15, gotta get ready for tomorrow's trip.



Got serious on some big fish tonight. We got out before the "storms" rolled in. Storms in quotes because they looked nasty on the radar, but fizzled out to almost nothing by the time they got here. Just a bad looking line of black clouds and some gusty winds. We were using virtually any skipjack we caught and they were hitting them. Some of our baits were 16-17" long. Landed a total of 5, missed several good hits. That's just the way it is with huge baits. We had 3 fish top the 30 lb mark, one in the mid 20's and a vicious 10 lber that I caught on a BIG skipjack. Water temp was 73.4, clarity: 4 feet. Some current, stiff breeze from the SSW at 15-20, air temp: 84 and muggy. Jason caught his biggest fish ever. He's pumped. It was a thrill to see those skipjacks hauling ass with a big striper right on their anal fin, then POOM, POOM. Yep, awesome.



Catfishing with Jason in the pond. Had one hit, but no catches. Just a couple beers and good company.



I should have learned my lesson the last two times, but I went below Melton Hill again. Bait was a bit tougher than I expected, but succumbed to 8,537 throws of the 58 lb Calusa. They were running water and I tried as hard as I knew how, but couldn't hook up and stay hooked up on a fish. They beat and chomped bait after bait, and the one time I hooked up on something, the line broke....I guess too much bottom bumping although the line looked like a gar had been chewing it like nicorette. I had one bait come back gashed up like a sauger or walleye hit. I left at 9:00, fed up. Water's too warm: 70 degrees, clarity is 2 feet. Hopefully they will start turning water out of the Norrisses, Cherokees and Douglases....that will get some fish hitting.



I'll tell you what tomorrow was like....today. Weather was about the exact same. The water was NOT, therein lied the problem. Temp started out at 66 and hit 71.7 at it's peak. There was also minimal current all day and the fish responded by being unwilling and sluggish. We did see several stripes, and I had one barreling down on a redfin early on. To sum it up, we hooked up twice, didn't land either of those, and had lots of other hits. Gizzard shad didn't work, they wanted skipjack. Caught a kajillion more skipjacks going for the small ones. It was tough, but we had a good thrill watching a 30 lber about 8 feet from the boat nudge our bait with its nose. Just couldn't push them into eating today. It was a good day still.



Started off bad. I had 7 gizzards and the tank sprung a leak...the water was only about a foot deep and the bait was all red. They went in the dumpster. We hit the water at about 9:30 and had bait and a fish by 10:30. It was 43 1/4 inches and 35.4 lbs.

We used up the skipjacks and headed for more. They wouldn't touch the bigger baits, so we struggled for some small ones. Caught the second fish at 1:21. It was 42.5" and 34.6 lbs.

We fished more for bait, had lunch and fished more for bait. We must have landed in excess of 300 skipjack on the day. Had fish #3 at about 7:30, weighing 26 lbs and 39" long.

Neil hooked another REAL good fish which pulled drag for about 2 minutes and then gave us back the circle hook. That was it on the day, 3 fish: 95 lbs total weight. Water temp started at 60, ended up at 67. Clarity was 5 feet. There was some good current early that died throughout the day. Air was mid-upper 80's, very humid and variable wind. Mostly sunny skies offered little relief from the photons. It was hot. Ended up good. What's tomorrow going to be like?

What happens to all of these fish you might ask....



Fished below Melton Hill with my most beautiful counterpart. It was more of a bait run than anything. Did pull some boards in likely spots. Not even a nervous bait, nada. Got gizzards for tomorrow.



Hit the river to pre-fish for the guide trip this weekend. Water temp was a perfect 63.3 at 5:00 pm. Bait was no problem, and we even used some bigger skipjacks 15" and up. I fished with a buddy from work, Jack. We boated 2 fish, about 25 lbs and 30 lbs. Big fish was 42.5 inches long, small fish was 38. It was raining everywhere but where we were, thick overcast, low ceiling, no wind, air was about 70 degrees. Great fishing weather. Clarity was about 5 feet. The water had come up a couple of nights and left lots of mud on the ramp. Great for my 2wd truck, especially with the vertical drop on the ramp. I wound up burning about 1/4" of rubber off of my right rear, but got out nonetheless. When we got 2 miles from the ramp, it was raining hard. It rained all the way home.



Hit it below Melton Hill tonight. Did a little bit of everything. Pulled planers, drifted the boils and casted lures. Too bad the fish weren't on a feeding binge. We managed a measley 3 lber on the artificial. Not to say that we didn't have lots of action on the baits, just no hookups. Water temp was 69, clarity: 2 feet. It rained about half of the time and air temps hovered in the high 60's even after dark. No wind. Yet another learning experience. River fishing tomorrow, YES!



Hit it below Melton Hill off the bank with the trusty leadheads and plastic bodies. Got a brand new reel from 1 limit tackle shop in Farragut. Caught a 25 lb striper on the VERY FIRST CAST with this reel, my new favorite reel. Had my second and only other fish @ 15 lbs about 10 minutes later. It was enough to break a sweat down there. The humidity was high today, air was about 81. Some am thunderstorms in the area, but it cleared up to partly cloudy for the rest of the day. ??water temp, clarity: 4 feet. They were running the near generator. Good way to break in the new Ambassadeur.



Photo Contest Winner, Ron Atchley's Free Trip Day

Had some leftover gizzards from yesterday for today on the river. Ran all the way up to the second set of check dams, couldn't catch any mooneyes, so planed those gizzards instead. They got bothered a bit, but must have been smaller fish, no takers. Put a load of skipjack on the tethers and made for the striper 'hole.' Ron caught one 'small' 15 lb, 34" on a skipjack. Had a nice 30 lber attacking a large skipjack for a minute or two. Wound up with another striper that was 39" and low 20's, one of Ron's personal biggest fish. The rains came at about 4:00 and we made for cover for an hour or so. It was windy, 15 mph and gusty from the SW until after the rains, then it was calm. Air temp barely broke 75, then the rain chilled it back down. It was partly cloudy going to overcast. Water temp started out at 59 and ended up peaking at 64, then dropping back to 62. Clarity started out at about 2 feet and ended up about 4 feet. The scenery was as breathtaking as usual. Mr. Atchley enjoyed the trip and the excellent fish catching. We wore monster skipjack out trying to catch some 1 year olds for bait. His first time catching a skipjack. He also saw his first mooneye in person. Good experience.



Piddled a bit below Melton Hill today fishing with Jodi. Water temp. was 63, clarity: 2 feet. Air was 75, but got cooled by a brief shower. It was windy 15-20 mph out of the WSW, but died down calm at about 8:00. Boated 2 stripes: 3 lbs and 8 lbs. Not too spectacular. We got there right when they had shut the generators off...aparently a bad time to go. Bait was no problem.



Went to Ft. Loudon on a hot tip from yesterday....NOTHING HAPPENED! Well, the bait was just not there folks. My advice for fishing there is to bring your bait for the sure thing because the fish are in there thick. I talked to two gentlemen in a jon boat who had caught 18 stripes. I just piddled until about 8:00 and went home. Water temp: 69.8, clarity: 1-2 feet. Air temp was about 75, 10-15 mph winds from the SW. Learning experience.