The dogdays of August are upon us and we’re all feeling the heat, fish included. The current situation is par for course this time of year so you may have to get outside of your comfort zone if you want to get out and chase some finned creatures. Here’s the lowdown from where I’m sitting.
The Holston is currently sluicing 3400cfs in addition to running a single generator for a combined output of around 7100cfs. That combo would seem to suggest some work is going on inside the dam on one or more generators. The fact that this is a sustained 24-hour flow makes it a somewhat interesting to me. It might be worth a visit if it continues. Staring into the crystal ball, however, has revealed that TVA is going to start backing off flows starting tomorrow. Given that we are in drought conditions or near drought conditions, coupled with the fact that TVA is well ahead of schedule on drawing down Cherokee, may portend good things to come once temperatures begin to drop here in a month or two. It looks like Saturday may even have some low water, wadable times on the Holston. If you head out, please be mindful that water temperatures may be near the dangers zone for trout in the upper stretches of the tailwater.
The French Broad has had favorable day time flows consistently throughout the last month or two. At present Douglas is sitting at around 987 feet in elevation. For perspective, last year it was about a foot above that during the first week of October. Now, that’s not to say that Douglas is well ahead of schedule in terms of the draw down but rather just to say we are seeing similar conditions on Douglas as we are on Cherokee. This shouldn’t change barring a big bump of water from a hurricane or two. Small mouth fishing has been consistent but not fantastic. I typically associate August with early morning work ups; small mouth busting baitfish on the surface from about first light until the sun burns the fog off the water. For whatever reason, I’ve yet to witness any bust ups this year despite many early morning assaults. To that end, I’ve been having the best luck with topwater poppers fished slow and methodically. Bouncing a crayfish imitation along the bottom would likely also be productive. The ability to spot and sight fish to cruising bass has been severely hampered of late by the haze produced by the western fires. Hopefully that problem will go away sooner rather than later for everyone’s sake.
The Clinch has presented itself as the Grinch far too often this year for most anglers liking. Most guides have been off the river for the better part of the summer and even most recreational anglers I’ve spoken to left it alone looking for greener pastures. If you’re concerned about the state of the Clinch (and you should be) at present and want to voice your concern, I’d drop a line to Frank Fiss (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bart Carter (email@example.com) and let them hear your voice. Better reports have been trickling in over the past week or two but still not too much to get excited about.
The mountains are, of course, pretty darn hot (not in a good way). Flows are a little better than average, but the lower elevations are above the danger zone for trout temperature wise. If you got to go, get high and fish the faster water. I’d try a beetle dry with a nymph dropper of some sort, probably a greenie weenie.
With cold water being at a premium, a safe bet might be trying to target striper on the fly. Food for thought… Wherever you go, have fun and be safe.