The good, the bad, and the ugly. There is a lot of noise in this week’s fishing forecast as the weather tries to make up its mind on what it wants to do. The weather folks had predicted some heavy precipitation in the area overnight and into today. Thus far their predictions have fallen flat, particularly on this side of the Smokey’s. In anticipation of some additional water in the area, TVA laid off generating on several dams and finally gave the wading angler a break to get out there and enjoy this unseasonably warm weather we have been having. Alec, my youngest, and I did just that over the weekend and here is what we found.
By in large, the small mouth bass are not happy. Not sure if it was the temperatures, flows or simply fishing the wrong part of the water column but whatever it was the bite was off from where it has been recently. I fished one of our tailwaters and one our freestones last week and neither was worth the visit save for the beautiful Fall weather and foliage. On the tailwater I was quick to chalk it up to a higher than average flow. I looked for fish in their normal summers spots as well as their winter holes where I found them the last time I was out. Neither produced much luck. On the area freestone river, water temps had already dropped to an extent that left little doubt in my mind that they were responsible for the slow bite or complete lack thereof. With flows on the tailwaters bumping back up starting tomorrow we may be done with small mouth till next spring.
The bite on the Clinch lately has been sporadic. The fish we are catching are healthy and well within the slot, but they are spread thin. TVA has not exactly been giving us ideal flows to get out there and chase them, but I hesitate to use that as a crutch to explain the fishing. If you have been out on the water lately you know as well as I do that there has been an unprecedented uptick in angling during this pandemic. I suspect that my play a small role in the tougher than usual fall bite on the clinch but there again, I am just throwing darts at the board hoping something will stick.
The Holston had some wadable flows over the weekend and while the water temps were a little higher than I thought they should be they were within an acceptable range. The fish Alec and I found were in good shape, fat and healthy, and per usual he managed to show his old man how it is done. Parts of the river are still choked with summer weeds so the darker and colder days to come will be welcomed as they help alleviate that problem.
As I type this, TVA has already adjusted their forecasted flows for the next couple of days and all the forecasts indicated increased and high water. Looking around the region, it appears that western North Carolina has received more of the precipitation than we did here in East Tennessee. If we manage to dodge the ETA bullet, the mountains should be primed for some pretty good fishing this weekend if you can manage a drift without snagging a leaf. The tailwaters will remain a mystery for another day or so while TVA evaluates what they want to do with the remaining water they have stored. Whatever you get up to this weekend, be safe and have fun!