Guided Trips


High flows continue across the area but trends are definitely down. A recent cold snap broke the ongoing heatwave so fishing in the mountains has slowed dramatically. Right on schedule, some of our tailwaters should begin returning to more normal flows for this time of year meaning float trips are certainly possible.

For the Smokies, a warming trend should commence as we go into next week. By mid week the fishing should be decent before the next cold front returns us back to winter again. On warmer days, look for midges and possibly winter stoneflies hatching. Some blue-winged olives will be possible on foul weather days as we head towards February. The best fishing is still a few weeks out, but no longer feels like an eternity. Expect good spring hatches to start in late February or early March with blue quills and quill gordons along with little black caddis and early brown and black stones. By April, things will be settling down with the pinnacle of spring fishing usually happening from mid April through the month of May.

On our area tailwaters, high water continues to be the story. The Caney Fork still has at least a couple of weeks of high flows and that is assuming we don't get any more heavy rainfall. This time of year, that is asking a lot. The high water is good for one thing, however. Shad. Yes, the cold months are prime time to try and hit the famed shad kill and catch a monster brown trout. Same thing goes for the Clinch.

Speaking of the Clinch, the good news is that flows are scheduled to begin dropping tomorrow. A steady two generators will feel like low water after the recent period of two generators plus sluicing. Two generators opens up some nymphing possibilities in addition to our favorite winter pastime, stripping streamers for monsters.

The musky streams are settling into fine shape and will be an option moving forward as well. Remember that bouts of high water will get them stained or even muddy for a few days, but as flows come down the fishing should pick back up.

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Monday, June 25, 2007

East Tennessee

Originally planned as a South Holston trip, the Watauga was added into the mix when we discovered that they would be generating in the afternoon on the SoHo. I had been looking forward to this trip for awhile and stayed up tying flies the night before. It pays to be prepared and you can never have too many sulphur patterns.

Sunday morning I was up at 4:00 (central) and headed out the door shortly thereafter to meet my fishing buddies on the east side of Knoxville by 7:00 (eastern). The drive was uneventful but the night before I had another of my premonitions indicating good fishing was sure to follow...and it turned out to be right again. We got to the South Holston by 9:00 and were soon fishing. I got things going quickly with a few stocker 'bows and then spooked a large brown. We worked down the river with everyone catching a few and then the pulse started to come through. The water never got too high and we stuck close to the edge of the river and then worked a bit farther down to continue fishing as the water slowly dropped back out. The rush of cool water seemed to slow things down briefly but it provided the apparent trigger for the sulphur hatch to start and soon the fish were nailing our nymph patterns as the sulphur nymphs started drifting in preparation for hatching. Soon the adults started appearing on the water and things just got better. The day became truly spectacular as fish after fish fell to our dries and nymphs. We had lots of doubles and even a few triples which tells you just how good the fishing was. My buddy Kevin took big fish honors on the SoHo with a nice brown of probably 15 or 16 inches that took his dry softly and then battled for awhile until we got it in the net. I missed at least two good fish but it wasn't the day for a big fish on this river for me.

Kevin's nice brown...

After fishing up until just before the generation was scheduled to start again, we headed back to the car and then off to find some lunch. After grabbing a bite to eat, we headed over the the Watauga to check it out. I hadn't been there before but Trevor assured us that it would be worth our time. It turned out to be an excellent decision as the fishing was just phenomenal. Despite dodging lots of water snakes and lots of lightning, we caught plenty of fish and I enjoyed my first time fishing this river.

Trevor fighting a hefty rainbow...

We finished up the day at a heavily used access and I finally got my nice fish for the day. I was fishing a series of deep and very swift runs with a big Tellico nymph. Working almost to the top of one run, I cast up above it to allow my fly to sink all the way to the bottom of the run. Suddenly my line stopped and then darted upstream. Pulling back gently but firmly, I found what felt like a good fish attached to my line. Thankfully I was able to get it on the reel before it really took off and then the battle was joined. The fish bulldogged at first and then made short scorching runs downstream with my reel screaming. The fish finally came up and rolled a couple of times allowing me to realize that it was a nice rainbow. Eventually the fish tired and I worked it into the shallows where Kevin helped me land it and then we got a couple of pictures before watching it swim away. This spot proved good for a nice brown and another good-sized rainbow in addition to some smaller fish. I also had another big rainbow on but the fly popped out as I was applying a lot of pressure trying to keep it out of the rapids.

My nice Watauga 'bow

Shortly after this, another storm was approaching and we all hurried back to the car and decided to call it a day. The trout of East Tennessee will be glad we don't make it up there often as we all caught lots of fish over the course of the day.


  1. Anonymous1:32 PM

    I don't think I'd ever get used to timing my fishing trips to a release schedule. As if the hatches, fish, weather and my own general mood weren't capricious enough...

  2. all type of trouts, very nice.

  3. TC, the generation issue can be annoying but the quality of fishing on the tailwaters is such that I just have to fish them occasionally. Also, tailwaters are normally closer to me than my preferred mountain streams (mainly freestones...). I don't remember if you've fished the SoHo on your Tennessee trips the last couple of years but if not, you owe it to yourself to try it sometime. It is a special place...



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