Heavy rain earlier this week put a damper on any fishing opportunities that were available. However, that residual weather from Hurricane Harvey has since passed and the weekend forecast is looking stellar. Clear skies and temperatures hanging in the mid 70’s should provide an outstanding atmosphere to get out and enjoy our East Tennessee outdoors. For the moment, TVA has slowed flows on some of our local tailwaters. Despite recreational flows being officially done for the remainder of the year, Norris is predicting similar flows for this upcoming weekend. Anytime we see the predicted average outflow around 3,000 cfs, we can usually expect a period of 0 generation during the morning hours, followed by 1 and 2 generators through the remainder of the day. Recent reports from the Clinch have been good during the periods of low flows. The usual fly choices will still get it done this time of year. I would scale down my pheasant tail into the #18-#20 range and continue to dredge the bottom with small midges (#20-#22) in darker colors (black, brown, purple, gray).
The flows on the Holston are looking very favorably as well. Expect some periods of low flows, most likely before noon, this weekend below Cherokee, followed by generation throughout the day. We have heard promising reports of good trout fishing in the upper section of the tailwater as the water temps are lowering into safer levels. Below Nance’s Ferry, the smallmouth fishing has been solid. Good topwater action can still be had in the early hours, followed by consistent action on baitfish and crayfish patterns.
Even with low flows expected on our tailwaters, don’t forget about our fantastic fishing in the GSMNP and surrounding National Forest streams. Recent rain has replenished many of those streams that were flowing exceptionally low. This time of year, is a fantastic time to be in the mountains as temperatures cool and the leaves begin to turn. This is also a fantastic time to scout for trophy brown trout. Lower flows can expose some of the larger fish in the streams that are normally hanging in the deepest darkest holes. Whether you are scouting for trophies, or just trying to catch some wild trout, the water temperatures have dipped below that 60-degree mark. This is a good indication of good feeding conditions for those mountain trout. Terrestrial insects are still present on many of these streams and the trout are still counting on these bugs as a supplemental food source. Parachute ants, foam beetles, and small grasshoppers or stimulators are working well. Additionally, I would have plenty of greenie weenies, rubber-legged pheasant tails and Tellico nymphs stocked in my fly box.
It appears we have arrived at that awesome time of the year we can expect during the shoulder seasons here in East Tennessee when everything seems to be synching up. Get out and enjoy the fantastic fly fishing opportunities we have available on this beautiful weekend! If you need further details on anything mentioned above, stop by or give the shop a ring at (865) 200-5271, we’d be happy to talk.
An unwelcomed rain is falling outside as I type, and though I could complain about it, we are certainly blessed to be inland during the chaos of Hurricane Harvey. Despite the weather, we should see a recreation flow on the Clinch River below Norris Dam this weekend, the last of the proposed rec schedules for our season. Fishing on the Grinch has been feast or famine per usual, with pheasant tails, midges, and some terrestrials making up the majority of proper fly selection. Get out and take advantage of the rec flow pending that it does not change with the incoming weather. Again, it is that time of the year to give trout on the upper Holston a break due to the high August temperatures. With conditions potentially not favorable in the valley, the GSMNP should not be overlooked. This past week our friend Pat Tully pulled a 22" trophy brown trout (Pictured below) out of the park, a welcomed reward to years of commitment to learning and fishing the low ph streams of the Great Smoky Mountains. As we are already seeing temperatures starting to get more mild, the park should come alive and the fall season offers anglers their best shot at a large wild brown trout.
On the warm water side of things fishing has been good on the lower stretches of the Holston River as well as the French Broad. Smallmouth are willing to eat on top and take streamers. While complex patterns may be your thing, simple usually wins, and I’d put my money on clouser minnows and shad imitations of the like.
Carp fishing is top notch and the usual buggy selection of large nymphs and buggers should reap some golden rewards. As we approach September it is not a bad idea to focus your thinking to striper below the dams and also musky in the lakes. If you are looking for more info in that regard we recommend giving Capt. Jon Oody of Tennessee Valley Anglers a call. This weekend is a great opportunity to take advantage of multiple fleeting opportunities like warm water fishing and rec schedules. Call the shop or stop in to get more dialed in on some great local fishing!
Brett and I have just returned from our western swing and the East Tennessee humidity welcomed us with open arms. High water still seems to be the theme upon our arrival, however this doesn’t seem to be detrimental to the bite on most of our local waters. While TVA is releasing a good amount of water out of the dams, some wading opportunity is still presenting itself on rec schedules during the weekends. For boating anglers, the Clinch River below Norris Dam is fishing well. Small pheasant tails and midges will likely still be the bread and butter, but I would not be shy to throw some terrestrials in smaller sizes. Despite the thin hatches on the Clinch this summer, the trout are still looking up. Brett and I have had success on beetles and ants in late summer months, and talk from local guides about recent trips seems to support our successes. If you are on the Clinch, keep an eye out for small caddis while the fog is still heavy at first light. It might not hurt to try a #20 black elk hair caddis if you see bugs and fish rising.
August temperatures are implementing their wrath on our region, and itis definitely time to give trout on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam a break. While trout are out of the equation, I have heard great reports of steady smallmouth action in the lower sections of the tailwater. We have had good results ripping streamers and plopping topwater bugs. Chartreuse clousers and jawbreakers in olive and crayfish orange have been our go-to flies as of late.
The topwater bite has been better earlier in the day and on the days without much sun. Stealth bombers in black and chartreuse are must have patterns right now. For all you carp chasers out there, the carp fishing is good and getting better. The carp are still feeding regularly, with good numbers of fish feeding in the morning and quality sight fishing to cruising fish in the afternoon. Eric’s UV Carp Legs in black or orange is a good fly choice.
As we approach September, striper should certainly be on your radar if they aren’t already. Typically, this time of year is the best chance at getting into the striped fish on flies, as they start to bust bait on the surface below the dams and in the lakes. If you are well versed with your boat, and can safely navigate some bigger water, it’s time to pull out the heavy tackle and try your hand at something that is sure to pull harder than anything else we have access to.
If you do get out this week, keep an eye on the generation schedules and the radar. There is some rain expected this week, so be sure to take advantage of the days that offer some warm temperatures and clear skies. If you need further details on anything mentioned above, give the shop a ring at (865) 200-5271, we’d be happy to talk.
-Brett & Matt
The weekend looks to be hot, hot, hot so there is no better place to be than on the water. Hot weather also means that TVA will probably have the generators running for the later part of the day on both Saturday and Sunday due to peak power demand. At present, however, the generation schedules on all of the Valley's main rivers (Douglas, Cherokee, and Norris) look favorable for good flows early in the day when fishing is most likely to be good.
The Holston River below Cherokee Dam is still maintaining temperatures cool enough for the trout to remain comfortable but that situation cannot hold too much longer. Early morning wading opportunities abound and my suggestion is to be on the river at first light and fish until about the middle part of the day when the fishing falls off significantly. Most of the major hatches have moved on but there is still a spattering of caddis and sulfurs coming off in the morning before the flows catch up. Your best bet will be subsurface but I would not hesitate to give a terrestrial or two a try as my indicator fly above a nymph. There is an abundance of beetle activity in the Valley at present and the fish are as aware of that as I am. Top water action on the middle and lower sections of the Holston has started to get hot as well so popper fishing for small mouth bass best be on your list of activities to try!
If you are headed to the Clinch on Saturday don't forget that the Big Clinch River Clean Up is going on in the morning. To accommodate the volunteers, who are pulling all manner of trash from the river, TVA will have the generators off until one in the afternoon on Saturday. The normal recreation schedule will return on Sunday. From all accounts, the lower and middle portion of the river has been fishing better than the upper. Standard bugs (bh pheasant tails and midges) are the flies of choice with little to no surface activity present with this heat.
The mountains are suffering from hot and low water. What a contrast to the high water and cool temperatures we had early in the spring and summer. You can find comfortable water temperatures in the higher elevations so if you are going to the mountains this weekend go early and go high!
If you are looking for something fun to do next weekend don't forget that the 3 Rivers Carp Cup is being held on Saturday, July 29th!
Aside for the rain in the forecast the fishing forecast for the weekend looks nothing short of fantastic with a ton of opportunities on almost every piece of water we have here in East Tennessee. At present TVA is predicting no flow on the Holston and French Broad rivers with a mixed schedule on the Clinch (probably off in the morning and one generator in the afternoon). While those schedules, as you well know, are subject to change, it has been a long time that all of the Valley’s tailwaters were available for fishing in a single weekend.
The Holston River has been fishing extremely well for both trout and small mouth. On the upper portions of the river there are still sufficient numbers of caddis coming off to fish a dry fly for the better part of the day. The lower trout zone is also seeing a decent sulfur hatch later in the day (size 14). The better dry fly fishing still seems to be concentrated in the morning hours and the evening, but pheasant tail nymphs are producing throughout the day in both size 18 and 14. With the arrival of the hot days of summer comes the time to throw your terrestrial box in your vest. Beetle patterns are solid producers on both the Clinch and Holston when there aren’t any other visible hatches occurring and they make a fantastic indicator fly when nymphing during the middle parts of the day.
Reports coming in from the Clinch have been very positive in the last week with guides telling me that pheasant tails nymphs are producing good results on low flows provided you can get your cast out there and you use a relatively long leader. TVA was having issues with both generators in Norris Dam but seem to have that sorted at present which means flows are much better for the boating angler. I have not heard of any credible reports of hatches on the Clinch recently so if you head that way pack your nymphs and streamers.
Speaking of streamer fishing, the small mouth bass are settling into a pretty predictable summer routine and the fishing has been good to great. My favorite thing in the world to do is sight fish for cruising small mouth bass riding on the back of common carp. If this is something you haven’t experienced it is an absolute must and now is the time! Give us a call at the shop and book your trip. Where ever and however you spend your weekend, be safe and have a great time!