This spotlight is with David Knapp of Trout Zone Anglers, I combined some family time with tossing some flies for a win-win outing. Fly fishing is truly an “add-on” activity. As you’ll read, you absolutely can’t go wrong hiring David as a guide.
I try to do a trip with each of my three kids every year. But I have some “Rules” about the activities during our trip.
Rule Number 1 – Fly Fishing must be part of the trip.
Rule Number 2 – See rule number one.
I’m not saying that all I want to do is fly fish, but it needs to be part of the trip. My middle daughter Megan recently finished her Freshmen year at Michigan State University. She had a job lined up for the summer with the MIDNR helping in the state parks. She loves the outdoors and biking so I arranged a week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSM).
So, I packed her up on a Saturday and by Monday we were driving south. We went to Townsend, TN which is located south of Knoxville at an entrance to GSM. The trip consisted of 2 days of biking and 2 days of fly fishing in the mountains.
For the two days of fishing, I contacted David Knapp of Trout Zone Anglers (link to website). To describe David in a single word – WOW! It would be impossible to describe how passionate David is as a Guide. My daughter Megan is pretty much a beginner to fly fishing and Mr. Knapp was incredibly patient with her.
He is probably the most accommodating guide I’ve ever fished with. He arranged everything for Megan, from positioning her for the best chances to catch trout (Megan caught 2X more than me) to finding better fitting wading boots and he brought a fantastic vegetarian lunch for her.
In preparation for the Guide Spotlight, I bring a list of questions and usually “quiz” the guide at lunch. Below are the cool things I found out about David Knapp.
Trout Zone Anglers primarily fishes;
- Streams and systems of the Smokies
- Caney Fork Tailwaters
- Clinch Tailwaters
- Cumberland Plateau
David fishes from a drift boat on the tailwaters and wading trips in the mountains. Fly fishing small pocket water like what is in GSM was a totally new experience for me. Learning the “bow and arrow” cast and drifting little pockets while crawling over boulders is something I’ll do again.
Tip from David forget the hero cast in mountain streams, learn to quietly approach a hole and make short accurate casts.
When I asked what David felt was his strength as a fishing guide, he quickly responded that his education as a teacher provides the patience and correct mindset to provide a great day on the water. I completely endorse this, David’ patience and positive encouragement with Megan was fantastic. A neat thing that David mentioned that it’s usually the folks that want to learn something new makes for an enjoyable time for the angler.
For me, getting David’s guidance on the small waters we fished was perfect. I learned so many things fishing those intimate waters. Positioning and stalking the stream are critical to being successful. Learning how to read those little pockets will improve my fishing skills on my home waters.
David made the leap to guiding full time 5 years ago. This single thing tells you something about any guide. Making a living by guiding is tough work, it means long hours hustling up clients and long days on the water. Word of mouth endorsements and returning customers are what keeps a guide in business.
Just think how tough it would be to connect with your customers when you’re on the water 10 hours a day. Some might look at a day with a guide as an extravagant activity, I don’t – I learned a lesson a long time ago that my vacation time is super valuable to me. It is completely worth it to have a professional show me the ropes on a new piece of water. A subtle reminder TIP your Guide.
When I touched on fly fishing mentors, David responded that years ago he fished with a legend in the Smoky Mtns Walter Babb. In a couple minutes Walter showed him tips from +40 years of fishing in the GSM. Tight lining techniques are essential in those mountain streams and learning from a fellow guide moved David’s fly fishing education immensely. This same education is shared while on the water with him.
What makes a great client A great day on the water really becomes a partnership with a guide. I love fly fishing and treasure every moment on the water. I will say that I’m not a great fisherman. Sure, I catch fish but the reason I have a good time is that I try to communicate with the guide and approach every piece of water wanting to learn. This speaks exactly to what David said when I asked him what makes a great client. A desire to LEARN. Approaching a day on a river being concerned with the number of fish caught or the size is the wrong attitude. Be open to learning.
Have you ever though why BEGINNERS LUCK is said so much? Think about it. All beginners have a desire to learn.
If you’d like to read about how to catch brook trout, I’ve written a complete guide. How to Fly Fish for Brook Trout: Beginners Guide.
Fishing these tiny waters, you get to understand how important catch and release fishing is. Megan hooked a nice Brook Trout, right in the 10-inch class. A beautiful fish with golden colors and fins with classic white leading edges.
We gently released it and David remarked that fish may have been the only one in that stretch of water that size. Big enough to breed and help sustain the fishery. As I looked around at how small the river was and what a gift it was to be with my daughter when she caught it, all I could think about is the Lee Wulff quote “The Greatest Gift”