Drift boat trips are a great way to cover a lot of water over the course of a day. In addition to being a great way to get down the river, drift boats provide a stable and comfortable perch from which to spend the day casting. The tailwaters around Knoxville are the finest in the Southeast and the backdrop to a day on the water here in East Tennessee rivals none. We fish out of Hyde Pro Series drift Boats and float a number of the tailwaters in the area including the Clinch, Holston, South Holston and Watauga rivers. Our bread and butter is fly fishing the Clinch River below Norris Dam and the Holston River below Cherokee Dam. Both rivers afford outstanding fishing and don’t see the pressure associated with the tailwaters located further east in the Tri-Cities area.
The Clinch River is a true year-round fishery with good hatches a possibility on any given day. The primary draw of the Clinch, though, is the dry fly fishing in the spring. Sulfurs begin to hatch in late April and the dry fly fishing hits its peak in early May. During other times of the year we more commonly utilize nymphs with great success. If it’s a trophy trout you are after then streamers on high water on the clinch is the only way to go. Brute brown trout exceeding 30 inches are routinely caught by diligent anglers willing to put in their time.
The Holston River below Cherokee Dam is a phenomenal dry fly river. A tailwater flowing from below Cherokee Dam, the Holston River in many ways acts more like a freestone river due a unique combination of factors associated with the geology of the area and the nature of Cherokee reservoir. The Holston is best known by local anglers for its prolific caddis hatch which begins in April and can last well into the summer months with larger hatches bringing every fish in the river to the surface. In addition to caddis the Holston has prolific hatches of sulfurs, crane flies, and midges. Action on the Holston heats up in early April and extends into the summer months. By August, however, it’s typically time to give the fish a rest as they water temperatures begin to reach dangerous levels.