How To Read The Generation Schedule
Reading the TVA Generation Schedule can be daunting, and the generation schedule differs from one tailwater to the next.
Generally speaking, you want to wade when there is 0 generation. At 1 or 2 generators, the water is too high to safely wade.
It generally takes the water a few hours to reach different places on the river. For Miller’s Island, you have about an hour, and down at the Highway 61 Bridge, it takes about 4 hours to get down. For example, if the generation starts at 10, then you could fish down at the Church until about 2:30.
Conversely, it takes different amounts of time for water to “fall out” after a period of high generation. You can study those times with the chart below:
Where To Wade
Miller’s Island is one of the most easily accessible and beginner-friendly spots on the Clinch. Located just over 30 minutes from the shop, it’s a pretty easy place to go fish before or after work, or on a peaceful summer morning.
The Second Baptist Church of Clinton is another popular spot that’s easy to wade around in and gives you a lot of opportunities to wade well after generation begins.
Where To Float
The best public ramps are at Miller’s Island, Peach Orchard, and the Highway 61 Bridge. Miller’s to Highway 61 Bridge with one generator is an all-day float, taking around 6-8 hours depending on how you anchor up. With Peach Orchard splitting those two points, you could have a float from Miller’s that would take around 4-5 hours, and from Peach Orchard to the bridge takes around 3 hours, making it a great kayak or canoe float on long summer evenings.
Fishing The Clinch During High Water In A Boat
When this area receives a lot of rain, the TVA is forced to release a lot of water to keep Norris Reservoir at the appropriate level. Also, TVA may run big water through the dam when the demand for electricity is high, particularly in the summer. For those with anything from a canoe or kayak to a jon boat can float with relative ease and catch fish. It’s highly recommended that you go down with someone who knows the river and can point out landmarks/places where you can take out and potential hazards.
If the water is a little off-color or there is overcast, casting large streamers on sinking lines can yield some very large fish throughout the Clinch during high water. Sink tips are fine if you’re floating through falling water, but a full sinking line will get your flies where they need to be.
Aside from streamers, fishing a very large and heavy nymph with lots of weight and a more normal-sized nymph (sz 16-20) under it is a great way to hit the big fish lying on the bottom. You’ll want to fish very deep. You likely won’t get a lot of fish, but you’ll have superb quality of fish.
Tactics And Flies
Like a lot of other tailwaters in the Southeast and around the country, the bugs you fish will be a little different than a mountain trout stream. Midges are a very popular pattern, as they are available throughout the year. We like black, purple, olive, red, and flashy rainbow or tinsel nymphs. Sz 18 to 22 is our recommendation for everything except the red midges, where you can get away with something in the 16-18 range to imitate small blood worms.
Small pheasant tail nymphs are also popular, typically in sz 16 and 18. We prefer pheasant tails tied on a curved shank hook, but the other variations of the pattern will work just fine.
In early May through the first part of July, we have a sulphur mayfly hatch that can be very exciting to fish. Later in the summer, small olive and black caddis and beetles become the dry fly of choice.
For leaders, you’ll typically do better throwing at least a 9 ft. leader with 6X tippet, and longer leaders in 12-15 feet are also advantageous, and you can get away with 5 or even 4X tippet as you lengthen your leader. For nymphing, fluorocarbon gives you an advantage in sinking faster than mono, and is also less visible underwater. Mono is a fine option for dry flies.
For streamers on a sink tip or sinking line, a short 3-5 foot section of 15 to 20 lb test fluorocarbon will be more than sufficient.