Happy Easter everyone! While it looks like we are finally going to get a break with the weather over the holiday weekend it remains to be seen if we will get a break in the water. As I write, Little River is flowing at 600 plus CFS and the Clinch is rolling at 7800. The upside is last night's rain wasn't near as severe as the weather folks initially predicted. The freestone streams, by in large, have already crested and are on their way back down. Warmer temperatures tomorrow and Sunday bode well for some potentially good fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where we are already seeing some decent hatches of stoneflies, blue quills, and quill gordons.
The forecast for the Clinch remains high water through the weekend but the Holston has some potential with the predicted outflows being 3000 cfs on both Saturday and Sunday. While there is no telling what that will actually mean we will get from TVA, perhaps they'll see fit to through us a bone and give a little wadable water sometime during the day.
The lower end of both the Holston and the French Broad are seeing good numbers of white bass and skip jack shad showing up. And with the Douglas Dam predicted to be off over the weekend you can bet that's likely where you will find me tomorrow at some point in time. The small mouth bass should be in pre-spawn mode so you'll want to search for them in areas in between their typical wintering grounds and their spawning grounds. The mouths of creeks will be a good bet as well once the sun pops up and heats the water up.
Where ever you end up this weekend, be safe and have Blessed day!
The condition of trout in East Tennessee as revealed by this winter’s electrostudies will be discussed on Thursday, April 12, by biologist Jim Habera at a free, public 7 p.m. meeting of the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Due to conflict with a special event at our usual meeting place, this meeting will be in the fellowship hall at Norris First Baptist Church, 149 W. Norris
Road, Norris—kittycorner across the intersection from St. Francis Episcopal Church. The Baptist church fellowship hall is a separate building behind the church; please enter from the lower parking lot.
Habera (pictured) has worked since 1998 for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; his primary responsibility is Tennessee’s wild trout resources. He graduated from Sullivan East High School in 1980 and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wildlife and fisheries science from the University of Tennessee.
If you read the fishing report last week, I mentioned struggling on the Holston in the thick of the shad kill. Now that the kill has tapered off, fish are more active and can be caught using a variety of different techniques. Allen got up there last Friday and found some nice rainbows willing to take small white wooly buggers drifted and twitched in the current.
If you haven’t heard the rumors yet, there have been significant shad kills on much of our local lakes/tailwaters. The Holston got an especially heavy dose last week, but before you get too excited, it seems that the fish got there fill quickly, and then settled down. Andrew and I floated from Cherokee Dam to Tampico last Friday. Thousands of gulls swarmed beneath the dam and at various places down river. Dead and live Shad alike were ample throughout the water column. I fished streamers, I dead drifted shad patterns, I nymphed, I midged, I did everything I know how to do with a fly rod, and I caught nothing. Aside from not feeling a bent rod all day, we also did not even see the first sign of a trout, or a smallmouth, or anything that swims for that matter. Water temps are incredibly cold, both on the Holston and Clinch tailwaters. Temps in the low 40s have fish lethargic on the Holston. I would guess they gorged themselves early on the protein rich bounty and now are stuck to the bottom trying to digest in the bitter cold water. Fishing shad kill scenarios are very dependent on timing it right; I’ll likely head back up there sometime this week to see if fish have started feeding again. While cold water may have the Holston trout hunkered down, the fish on the Clinch River below Norris Dam don’t seem to mind.
The water temperature variation throughout the year on that tailwater is much narrower. The cold snap has fish feeding actively on midges and also willing to chase smaller streamers. Brett got out Sunday and waded much of the upper section, finding success through the rain on a variety of sub-surface midge patterns fished below a yarn indicator. Tan, olive, and black tungsten midges with biot style bodies have been working well. If midge fishing doesn’t have your interest, a small streamer pattern fished on low water or generation has been productive recently. A BH Wooly Bugger or a Triple Double streamer will likely pick up some quality trout, especially if you focus in deeper runs and heavy current lines. We like to swing these flies at the end of a drift as well, and many times the swing is where we get fish to strike. If you are streamer fishing from the boat, get the fly in the water as much as possible, and if you are not getting much attention with big streamers, remember to downsize. Brett also streamer fished from a boat with Christian yesterday, and they had plenty of action to stay entertained.
The GSMNP has been very cold over the last couple of weeks, with ice and snow covering the mountains and streams in numerous areas. Temperatures this week look like they could raise water temps back up to fishable but rain today and Sunday may keep flows pretty high. It is probably best to keep you attention focused here in the Valley. If you do head up to the park, I would focus on nymphing deep unless you see some bugs coming off. Tight-lining with indicator tippet is a great way to get flies deep and increase your mountain stream success rates. Whatever you decide to do this weekend, be safe and mindful of other anglers. As always, we are here to help you so stop by or give us a ring and let’s get you ready for your next outing on the water. We would love to have you swing by the shop or feel free to give us a call at 865-200-5271.
After what feels like weeks of a deep freeze here in East Tennessee, it looks like we are finally going to get a break both with the weather and the flows on the area tailwaters. As of today, TVA is predicting favorable flows on both the Holston and Clinch tailwaters over the weekend and with weather temperatures predicted to be in the 50's for the first time in a long while you've got no excuse for not getting out and fishing.
As with any winter time fishing on the tailwaters your fly box should be stocked with an abundance of midge patterns in a variety of colors. The Clinch has been experiencing significant midge hatches over the last couple of weeks despite the cold temperatures with a larger grey midge popping throughout the day. If I was headed that way I'd make sure I had a handful of Griffith's Gnats and grey zebra midges.
Likewise, the Holston should be good to go with the midge hatches provided we get a bit of sun over the weekend. If you do find yourself up there focus your attention on the flat water and not the riffles. During the winter months, when midges constitute the bulk of the food in a trout's diet, the fish tend to concentrate more in the slower water in order to target the smaller food source. If technical terminal tackle isn't your gig, I'd wager that it would be worth your time to chunk some streamers on the Holston. While I haven't heard any substantiated rumors of a shad kill on Cherokee I do know that both Douglas and Cherokee reservoirs have significant amounts of ice on them and those are precisely the conditions one would expect a kill to occur.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to check TVA generation schedules if you are planning on heading to a tailwater. As always, if you have any fly fishing questions for us please come by the shop or give us a call at 865-200-5271.