Fishing is starting to heat up around here as the weather cools. We’re getting some generous flow times for the Clinch in the morning, giving you the opportunity to fish the upper end until lunch and the lower end well into the afternoon. The Holston is still to warm for trout and likely will be for the next month, but you can still sight-fish to smallmouth and carp while we have these warm, sunny days on the calendar. The Smokies are still flowing low, but we’re seeing more chances for rain and cooler temperatures on the horizon.

The Clinch is by far the best option for fishing around us right now. Compared to the tailwaters of Northeast Tennessee, the Clinch appears to be producing larger and healthier fish, thanks to great temps, flows, and dissolved oxygen levels. Small, bright midges are getting it done, but those are phasing into small flashback pheasant tails and eggs. The time to be fishing eggs is still upon us, so this is a good time to be tying eggs as the weather cools.

For the French Broad and the Holston, smallmouth are still holding in the riffles, but folks are finding more and more fish in the deeper, slower holes right behind the riffles as the weather cools. Crayfish and streamers should take up the majority of your box’s real estate, but poppers and stealth bombers are still a viable option for sight-fishing to larger specimens.

The Smokies, at least on the Tennessee side, are missing the rain that’s been moving through the area. On the other side in North Carolina, water is cooler and up to a more reasonable level, so you may drive the extra little bit to get into some better fishing until conditions improve over here. An alternative would be to fish rock bass and smallmouth in some of the streams that exit the Park, which fish better despite low and warm water.

Whatever you get into, enjoy the cooler temps as they roll in, do a rain dance for the Smokies, and get out there this week.