Recently the Clinch Valley Times interviewed Daniel Williams, an associate of Clinch Life Outfitters in St. Paul. Not only is Daniel the store’s fishing guide, he provides expert advice and training in the art of fly fishing. Locally, this sport continues to grow in popularity as more fishers discover the possibilities afforded by the Clinch River.
Daniel is a Castlewood resident, having returned to the area after spending several years in northern Virginia. He is a graduate of UVA Wise and St. Paul High School, where his mother was a faculty member. Daniel loves sports and the outdoors, which is immediately apparent when you speak with him. Here’s what he told us:
I have preferred places in the Clinch River I like to fish. One has a spawning population of brown trout, part of which is stocked. Down below there is a single-hook-only regulation sign; a wild spot for brown trout. It keeps out power bait and night crawlers. As far as fly fishing goes, it sort-of levels the odds a little bit.
The Clinch has a lot of features other rivers around here don’t have. For example, the river is open and the banks are open. When fly fishing in other places, you are sometimes trying to cast in a laurel tunnel. This can be very frustrating when your hook keeps getting caught in every bush around. In the Clinch, you have a lot of room for a back-cast. Also, it’s easy to wade down there.
There are some great opportunities for trophy fish in the Clinch. The water is extremely clean, and it is also extremely challenging. It’s a wonderful fishery.
Other well-known fishing places are very crowded. I prefer to guide on the Clinch because you’ll probably have it to yourself seventy-three out of a hundred days. You can park your vehicle, walk a hundred yards, and it feels like you’re a hundred miles from anywhere. If you go to the Holston on the coldest, windiest day in February, you’ll still see fifteen other people.
Fly fishing is more like hunting than fishing. One of the most important things is to actively target feeding fish. Stalking the edge of the water, you can see the fish feeding. When you present a fly to a fish, it’s like you’ve hit a button on a remote control. The fish come to you. Though it’s possible to sit on the bank with ten rods and catch catfish quickly, it’s not the same pursuit as fly fishing. It’s not the same skill.
When I started my guide service, I chose to separate what I offer from what is being offered elsewhere. Most other guides offer drift boat floats. They float you down the Holston River or the Watauga River, trying to maximize fishing from the boat. While this is easiest, it’s essentially glorified bobber fishing.
I will be offering something new this fall – “Fly Fishing Friday.” I tie my own flies and will teach others to do so.
We enjoyed our visit with Daniel. He’s personable and intelligent – and he knows his business. His enthusiasm for the Clinch and fishing are contagious. Stop by Clinch Life Outfitters and ask him about tailoring a river experience just for you.