We’ve managed to make it through a relatively mild February. Warm temperatures had most of us daydreaming of Springtime fun and if the first few days of March are any indication, we shouldn’t have too long to wait. Unfortunately, that last week of February was a doozy. The East Tennessee area received close to six inches of rain putting our February total close to nine inches, five more than a normal February (do we have those anymore?). For the uninitiated, that doesn’t mean too much. For those of us in the know, it means that all the area reservoirs are well above their ‘winter pool’ levels. Norris and Cherokee are both around twelve feet above where TVA would like them to be. That’s a lot of water.  A lot of water means it will be a while before we see truly fishable flows on the local tailwaters.

There was a brief window last week, just after the rain, when TVA shut off the taps to hold water back from downstream assets in middle Tennessee. By all accounts, both the Holston and Clinch were in good shape with lots of reports of heavy midge hatches on both rivers. With any luck March will remain warm and relatively dry so we can get back out there sooner rather than later.

March is the month I begin thinking about warm water fish. As I type, white bass are staging up and getting ready to make their spawning run up most of our area waterways. Skipjack, striper, yellow bass will be following closely behind. If you find one you’re likely going to find another, and another, and another. White bass and skipjack are tailor made for kids and the perfect way to get them hooked on a lifetime of angling fun. A novice angler can put big numbers in the net in very short order. It’s a great way to get them to look up from their screens for a few hours. Swing by the shop if you’d like to learn more.

The upside of March’s warm start is that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park should be in relatively good shape by the weekend. While the water levels are still a little bit on the high side, they should continue to fall by the time Saturday rolls around. Water temperatures are hovering in that magical fifty-degree mark where trout start to get active. If you head up that way this weekend I’d drag my heals at breakfast so the water temps can get to that comfort zone. Wherever and whatever you get up to this weekend, have fun and be safe!