Flows are settling into predictable patterns on the Clinch and the Holston for the summer, and fishing opportunities abound in the tailwaters around East Tennessee. The Clinch is running low and clear, providing challenging conditions during these sunny days, while the afternoon schedule gives boaters favorable flows. Also this week, the cold waters of the Holston are producing very large rainbows.
Folks are finding success with bead head pheasant tails and split-back sulphurs in a size 16 and smaller. Sulphur hatches have been sparse around here, but they are hatching in the afternoon. Midges have also been successful, despite the common misconception that they’re not effective in warmer months. Red or black zebra midges in sizes 16-20 under a pheasant tail would be a killer rig on the Clinch as well as the Holston, so it’s worth sizing down your presentation to get after picky fish.
The mountains are fishing great, though the recent heat wave has made fishing in the lower elevations impossible to do ethically. Just head up into the Park and you’ll find plenty of cooler water in the mid to high elevation streams. Yellow sallies and other light colored dries are performing on top, and greenie weenie droppers are in season. Pheasant tails, hare’s ear, and other nymphs will work as a dropper too or in a double nymph rig under your favorite yarn indicator.
Due to cold water and big flows at night, smallmouth fishing has been fairly slow on the Holston and the French Broad. However, topwater smallmouth fishing will be heating up in the approaching weeks, so stock up on flies and tying materials for poppers, sliders, and stealth bombers now when the smallies really turn on.
We’ll be hosting another Superfly Happy Hour Thursday, May 30th from 7pm-9ish where we’ll hear all about Euro nymphing from Mark Longmire of Syndicate Fly Rods. Mark is very knowledgeable on this effective technique that’s applicable to the tailwaters, as well as the mountain streams.
June 8th is Kids Fish Free day for residents and non-residents. While this is great for getting kids into fishing, just be wary that the water is going to be very crowded on the Clinch and Holston at public access points.
Also, keep on your radar that the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be hosting their annual Big River Clinch Cleanup on July 13th.