Alas, we’re still seeing big water running through the Clinch and French Broad, but it looks like there’s a favorable chance for wading opportunities on the Holston this weekend! We’re all eagerly anticipating and preparing for promise of lower water Saturday morning to pursue some very hungry and healthy fish. On the Clinch, you have to try to catch small fish. When the water is high, the nasty, big-shouldered fish come out to feed. This simply means we expect quality over quantity under these conditions.

The name of the game is to fish a normal, go-to nymph under a very large and gaudy nymph with plenty of weight to punch the whole rig down to the bottom. Suspend everything under a large bobber, and you’ll attract the larger fish that have a lot more room to move around in big water. An alternative would be a big articulated streamer. You’ll want a full sinking line to help get you down to the strike zone, but the payoff is likely to be epic.

The mountains have continued to be fishing super well throughout the unseasonable rainy weather. After striking out Sunday in the wake of the storm, good fish were actively feeding in the deep, middle portion of plunge pools. Doing so protects the fish from overhead predators in the rain, but also gives them a productive feeding lane to take advantage of nymphs, worms, and other tasty organisms that are jarred loose from the influx of rainwater.

Just go higher until you find cool water. Not only is it bad for catch and release fishing to catch fish in water over 65 degrees, but the fish will also be lethargic and harder to catch. Having a stream thermometer is pretty handy for determining where to fish. In the Smokies, it’s crucial to figure out where you can fish ethically, so a thermometer helps you find the threshold that you can fish at, while still hitting bigger water where quality fish hang out.

Carp fishing is becoming a hot item these days, especially with the Carp Cup being just a month out. You can find carp on muddy flats, the shallow inside bends of rivers, or under mulberry trees, and they’ll soon become one of your favorite fish to pursue in the hot, muggy days of summer.

The water is big and wading is limited, but the fishing will be phenomenal for all anglers when the water is run out. Both trout and smallmouth will be healthy and robust, so the best days of the season are still upon us.