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John's Journal... Entry 206, Day 1


Fishing For Trout At The Sipsey Fork

EDITOR'S NOTE: John Eisenbarth, owner of Riverside Outfitters and Fly Shop, and his wife Elizabeth, have fished the Sipsey Fork, the tailwaters of Smith Lake, for 13 years.

Question: How long has there been trout in the Sipsey Fork?
Answer: Since the mid-1970s.

Question: How often are trout stocked?
Answer: The Sipsey Fork is stocked six times a year, and additionally we are stocked twice in the spring if the fish are available. This year we received nine stockings because there were extra fish.

Question: How many fish are stocked each time?
Answer: Between 3,500 and 4,000. Depends on the size of the fish. The bigger the fish, the fewer fish the state stocks.

Question: What size trout are they stocking?
Answer: They stock 8-to 10-inch fish. Occasionally we get stockings with 13- and 14-inch fish.

Question: Where are the majority of people coming from who trout fish below Lewis Smith Dam?
Answer: All across the state of Alabama. The bulk of them come from Huntsville and Birmingham. We get several people out of Montgomery and a substantial amount from Mobile. Our largest out-of-state population comes from Mississippi because we have the closest trout waters to that state.

Question: How far have you had people come from before to trout fish with you?
Answer: I've taken people trout fishing at Lewis Smith Lake from Vermont, New Hampshire, California, Canada, New Mexico, Alaska, Japan and Germany.

Question: How did these people find out about you?
Answer: Mostly from our Website and by word of mouth. The trout fishermen from other parts of the country really help spread the word because it is unique for them to come and catch trout in the Deep South is a unique experience.

Question: Are we the farthest south possible to be able to have trout?
Answer: Just about. The Chattahoochee River, which runs through Atlanta, Georgia, is located a little further south than Sipsey Fork, but the river there has tail waters too. The Guadalupe River in Texas is a lot farther south than the Sipsey Fork. The Guadalupe River is a spring-fed river with some tail water and is run by a Trout Unlimited chapter.

Question: What does a day of trout fishing consist of here at the Sipsey Fork?
Answer: Just after daybreak, trout begin rising and feeding off of small insects on top of the water. It takes sunlight to get the insects to start hatching. Once the insects start hatching, the fish start feeding on them.

Question: If a day of fishing starts at 7:00 a.m., how long do you fish?
Answer: During the summer, we fish until the turbines are turned on. Weekends or weekdays when they don't turn the turbines on, we fish late in the evening or early in the morning. Mid-day fishing is always tough because fish tend to stay on the bottom when the sun is bright.

Question: How many trout will a party of two catch?
Answer: At least their limit of five trout each. Of course, the success depends on the type of people fishing. When I'm teaching someone to fly-fish, I'm glad if they just catch a couple of trout because trout are tough fish to catch on flies.

Riverside Outfitters and Fly Shop is located in Jasper, off Hwy 69 N, 4 miles below the Smith Lake dam. For more information, call John Eisenbarth at (256) 287-0050, go to www.1flyfish.com or e-mail him at JE@1flyfish.com.




Check back each day this week for more about FLY-FISHING WITH JOHN AND ELIZABETH EISENBARTH ...

Day 1 - Fishing For Trout At The Sipsey Fork
Day 2 - Eisenbarth's Favorite Flies
Day 3 - Eisenbarth's Clientele
Day 4 - Tying Flies with Elizabeth Eisenbarth
Day 5 - Fly-Fishing With Karen Jordan

John's Journal