The Holston River Fishing Report
The Holston River below Cherokee Dam has been fishing extremely well up until the recent weather events that hit over the past weekend. On low water schedules there has been quite a bit of bug activity around the mid-mark of the day. The fish, fat and happy, are slurping caddis, craneflies, and midges in extremely shallow water. The rain over the weekend will obviously have a detrimental effect on TVA's ability to cut the generators off as the upstream assets become are filling up with the recent rain. If you haven't already heard, TVA plans to bring Boone Lake down 14 feet below its normal winter pool this year in order to accomodate work on the aging Dam. This means that water from that upper reservoir will have to be accommodated elsewhere downstream.
Near Jefferson City Tennessee, you will find Cherokee Lake. An absolutely beautiful body of water that lends itself to some of the best camping and fishing opportunities in the area. Several islands dot the surface of the TVA lake and each year it is the home of a multitude of fishing tournaments. Night fishing on Cherokee Lake is a popular summer activity as the warm nights and an active population of bass keep the action hot and heavy.
Below Cherokee Dam is The Holston River. It is often confusing when entering this river into a fishing discussion as people seem to always think you are referring to the South Holston. This unintentional slight actually works in the favor of those anglers who fish this river. With smallmouth bass and a healthy population of trout, this river has been considered somewhat of a hidden nugget in the are for years. The Holston has very limited public access which keeps crowds low and with low crowds you have less pressure which can make for some very exciting fishing. As far as trout goes, the brown and rainbow population is primarily a stocked group but it has been rumored that schools of fingerling browns have been seen. We have our fingers crossed.
As you go south from the dam, the tailwater warms, deepens and becomes a smallmouth fishery As it rolls under Interstate 40, through a high residential area, and meets its western counterpart, The French Broad to form the mighty Tennessee.
In the upper reaches of the river just below Cherokee Dam caddis hatches can be unreal. It is not unusual to encounter a fleet of caddis popping from the surface so thick that you literally can rake them off your arm like piling snow. When this hatch begins, it is much like playing the lottery. Thousands of bugs coming off at the same time, and one lone elk hair caddis drifting amongst them. However when you do hook up you will bring to hand a healthy fish from limestone rich water.
Much like the French Broad, if you have a crawdad pattern or a wooly bugger on the lower reaches of this water, you should be in fine shape.
Archived The Holston River Fishing Reports:
The only true gem in East Tennessee's tailwater fisheries in the past week or so has been the Holston River below Cherokee Dam. While TVA has been flushing very erratic generation schedules of late there have been more than a few opportunities to get out and have a fish on the Holston. On warmer sunny days the bugs have come out in force and with significant numbers of caddis (sz 16/18), midges and crane flies. The better hatches are coming off on full low water during the middle part of the day and the trout have been responding in kind. The fish are still fat and happy and many good to great fish are being found in the shallow waters on the edges of runs rather than holding in the main parts of the river. In the absence of any bugs on the surface, don't be scared to tie on a oversized Elk Hair Caddis with a caddis imitation dropper. Work the riffles and runs systematically around the shoals. You're liable to get the surprise of your life...
The temperatures on the lower end of the Holston River below Cherokee Dam are hovering in the lower 70s but it's clear that Fall conditions have set in for the small mouth. The sycamore trees have all gone brown and dumped their leaves and the grass from the river bed has begun to tear loose and collect in mats in the eddies and on the dead falls. The small mouth are following suit by falling back and staging up in the deeper holes and runs. These conditions can make for some difficult fishing but if an angler is patient and persistent their effort may be rewarded. This is the time to up size your flies as there is no such thing as too big when targeting trophy fish.
The upper river in the trout zone is beginning to shake loose and reports of some nice rainbows being caught are continuing to come into the store. While the water temperature is still a little on the warm side the shorter days and cooler nights should take care of that in short order. As the river begins to cool you can expect the trout fishing to improve from good to excellent. Try a large dry fly combo with a nymph dropper through the riffles.
The fishing on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam has been up and down lately in large part due to TVA's increased flows drawing down Cherokee Reservoir. Top water action is still happening but not nearly as reliably as it was just a few weeks ago. The big fish are still in the mood to get their feed on but you may have to attempt a more subtle approach. During the middle of the day pull out a crawfish imitation and bounce it through the riffles and runs. While not the most exciting method of fishing it can be highly effective this time of year. The good news is that flows have been reduced this week and there is actually some fishable water throughout the entire system giving both the trout and small mouth angler a shot. With the weather forecast looking great, what's your excuse for not getting out there?
I spent a significant amount of time on the lower Holston River below Cherokee Dam over the long holiday weekend targeting smallmouth bass and it was all smiles all day long for the most part. The days are getting shorter and the bass are taking note and feeding accordingly. The topwater bite is still phenomenal and I had hooked fish that regurgitated their previous meals into the bottom of the boat giving me the chance to see what they've been eating. While the vast majority gifted me half-digested crawdads a number of fish also placed either cicadas or katydids. While I'm sure a cicada pattern would work wonders there doesn't seem to be any reason to get too specific on your top water patterns when a regular popper or stealth bomber will work. If you're wanting to target larger fish then large baitfish patterns will probably work better than anything else as a number of super-sized (5 to 6lbs) attempted to consume some of my smaller catches. The great news on the Holston is the bit is strong pretty much all day long and the flows are adequate to good (particularly on the weekends) so now is a great time for a float. Give us a call at the shop and we can set it up, 865-200-5271.
The Holston River below Cherokee Dam continues to fish extremely well on moderate flows. TVA has begun the draw down process in earnest in advance of the upcoming holiday weekend in order to put enough water into Fort Loudoun to accommodate the fiberglass brigade which will advance upon downtown for the football and fireworks. While flows are not perfect for the wading angler on the Holston for either trout or small mouth, if you know where to look for the lower water, the angler in a boat can still mop up. The top water bite continues to be your best bet with suspended deer hair streamers being a close second. The fish are all looking up and in most cases they are already beginning to school up into their typical Fall pattern. Hook one and in all likelihood that fish will be swarmed by a host of comrades.
While the abundance of rain early in the Spring and Summer made finding good fishing water tough, that same predicament means we are in store for a heck of a Fall with respect to fishing for both bass and trout. Provided TVA does a graduated drawdown giving us some fishable flows I expect this to be a fantastic if not out of this world season on the entire river. The upper portion of the river now has at least three years of hold over fish in it with 25" to 26" rainbows now being a relatively routine affair. The lower river, small jaw country, is arguably the best small mouth fishery in the South.
The Holston River below Cherokee Dam continues to be the gem of the moment in the super hot fishing that is still going on in the greater Knoxville area. While we would typically see a slowdown in most if not all of our fisheries this time of year the whacky whether has things turned literally on their head. The Holston is still producing great numbers of small mouth on the top water bite and a good proportion of those fish are wearing their post-spawn colors. Fishing is so good, in fact, even a seasoned five year old can sneak out with his old man for a couple of hours on the Saturday before school starts and whack a few good ones before the rains caught up with us. Stranger yet, I ran in to a mess of carp which were spawning in the shallows on the Holston on Sunday morning. This activity is so long overdue that it caught me completely off guard when I encountered it. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and given that we are just a few days in front of the 3 Rivers Carp Cup, I suspended my pursuit of bass to catch a few Big Lips. Now's the time to be out there folks, I am not kidding.
I managed an unprecedented 24+ hours on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam over the course of three days this weekend and that impressive sum in and of itself should be a reliable indication of how the lower portion of the river is fishing currently for small mouth bass, carp, and the occasional striper. The small mouth bass are finally settled into a predictable feeding pattern and the top water morning bite continues to be exceptional. After about ten o'clock, the topwater bite slows but the fish are still willing to chase streamers. Lower flows during the heat of day is pushing many good fish into the tails of pools and the riffles at the the head of larger runs. In my favorite stretch of river I was extremely pleased to find the larger bass holding in less than a foot of water just off the bank searching for terrestrials, crayfish, and forage fish. They've been in short supply this year due to the presence of a number of nesting eagles which have, thankfully, moved on. One larger fish I caught on Saturday displayed some battle scars, presumably from one of the nesting eagles.
Flows continue to be good but not great. Similar to the French Broad, TVA is generating a 12 on 12 off schedule meaning you will have to search out the lower water in the system. The good news is that low water is hitting prime mid- and lower-portions of the river during the heat of the day and allowing for some fantastic topwater action early or late depending on which section you're floating. If you've got the kids back in school and are searching for a distraction, give us a shout at the shop 865-200-5271.
The Holston River below Cherokee Dam has nearly perfect flows for lower river small mouth floats at present and the fish are respondng in kind. Having been covered up in high, cold water for the majority of the summer the fish are finally settling into a healthy and happy normal summertime routine. The topwater bite in the morning hours on poppers, beatles, and stealth bombers is nothing short of phenomenal. Later in the day as the water falls out the bite gets a little bit tougher as the small mouth aren't yet fully accostomed to the lower water conditions. The warmer water, however, has the carp out in full force feeding with reckless abandon and the small mouth are never too far away seeking a free meal from their aquatic cousins. Just like permit hanging on the back of rays on the flats off the coast, small mouth bass will set up just off the shoulder of a feeding carp in hopes that the carp will kick up or spook an easy feed for the small mouth to pick off. The result on the Holston river is a situation where you can literally sight fish for trophy small mouth in low water conditions. Frankly, next to top water action for small mouth, I'm not sure there's anything that makes me happier than casting to a large small mouth in shallow water eagerly looking for a freebie from a carp. If you've not experienced this phenomenon now's the time to do it. Give us a call and set up a trip today, 865-200-5271.
I spent a great afternoon with Dr. Bruce Avery on the middle portion of the Holston River below Cherokee Dam yesterday in the vacinity of New Market. We managed to find the low water in the river and the fish were extremely happy as the water temperatures were perfect. The small mouth bass were definitely looking towards the sky and poppers were working well. In between the topwater bite we also had good success on tequeelies drifted and stripped. The small mouth are finally coming into their own and they are hungry.
Dr. Avery got off the water early and I was forced to wait out a thunder boomer as it passed before I made my way downstream to the take out. During that time TVA's generation caught up with me and the water coming out of the dam was shockingly warm relative to what it was a month ago. This does not bode well for the well being of the trout upstream. If you've got to fish for them then please use heavy tippet, get them in quick, and be sure to revive before you release.
TVA has finally exhausted the bulk of the coldwater reserve in Cherokee Resevoir after an unpresedented season of rain and near constant generations schdules. The only upsdie of this declaration is that the small mouth are finally settling into a summertime routine. With predicted generations of two or more generators during the daylight hours for the remainder of the week the trout fishing is more or less done, which isn't a bad thing considering that the water temperatures in the upper river are bouncing around the 70 degree mark depending on when and where you measure. This means that the best float & fish options are going to be on the middle and lower portions of the river from Nance's Ferry down to the Forks of the River area. Where fish were previously keying on larger bait imitation patterns up to five inches there is now a healthy dose of smaller fry in the river and clousers and sinking lines are again doing the trick. The other good news is the fish have begun to look up for a meal and so poppers may be an option at any time of the day particularly in the slack water along banks and in the riffles with a large nymph dropped below a popper (popper-dropper).
Page 1 of 4