Hey folks! I sure hope the holidays have been special for you. The older I get, the more I love them because it gives us an excuse to get together with family and enjoy catching up. The rest of the year, it seems like we are so busy with work and everyday life that we just don’t take the time to sit and talk with our loved ones. I’m probably more guilty than most as with the guiding, I’m so busy during most of the year I just don’t ever seem to find the time I need. I guess I’m lucky to have a job where I get to spend time seeing folks having so much fun. It’s hard not to feel like you’re a part of their family.
One of my Funniest trips this year was with my grandson, Coy. We had such a great morning watching the bears on the shoreline and catching big spotted and smallmouth bass. I hope he’s like me and will remember these times for years. I can remember when I was a boy, too young to fish myself, following dad up the creek feeling so important holding the forked stick that held the fish dad had caught. It was years before we got a creel to hold the trout we caught. I still remember the first creel I ever saw Freelon Woodard was fishing Alarka Creek and he was wearing a wicker-type fishing creel. Fishing gear has come a long way since then, with the advancement of rods and reels and fish finders, it’s mind boggling. I love spending time with family in the outdoors whether your catching huge bass or small bluegills, one thing’s for sure…everyone’s going to be smiling.
As for a January fishing report, it’s been really good. The spotted bass have been the dominant species hitting on Fontana. Due to the exploding bait, they have been a little tougher to catch but we are seeing some real pigs. Santeetlah an Nantahala have fished as good as I’ve ever seen, with the catch being mixed with smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass, along with some huge yellow perch and a few nice crappie. Techniques are really varied; I’m a live bait guy so I’m throwing minnows but have had good luck on Rapalas and soft plastics. The top water bite has been a little off, seems more of my catch has been 20 to 50 ft deep.
As much as I love saying take a kid fishing. This may not be the best time for that as the cold sometimes is a little more than they can stand. If you do take them out, just dress really warm and take lots of snacks. I guess we’re lucky with the heated jackets and the hot pocket hand warmers. Just make sure to make it an enjoyable trip and you will have a fishing buddy for life. Happiest of holidays to all and I hope 2023 is great to you all!
Ronnie Parris is owner and head guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, N.C., heart of the Great Smoky Mountains www.smounlimited.com; (828) 488-9711.