Fall Guide Report, Nov 29

The drought has lasted into late fall, but the current rains will help put a dent in the abnormally low water, and hopefully end the region’s wildfire outbreak. Most of our trips have been limited to the S. Holston and Watauga tailwaters, where dam releases have be minimal but consistent. The trout are happy, and water is cold… just really clear. While the fishing has been fairly technical over the last couple of months, the rivers continued to produce when conditions allowed, and most importantly… Leaf catching season is over folks! Now onto blue wing olive hatches, trout migrations, and the yearly spawn…

The blue wing olive, slate, caddis, and midge hatches have increased the past couple of weeks on the Watauga tailwater. Dry fly fishing the shallow riffles has been really productive, as well as swinging wets on most days. Tricky looking, soft hackled PT’s, hare’s ears, and bwo wets in sizes 18-22 are a good choice. Some big blonde caddis have been coming off on the lower river, while slatey mayflies and bluewings dominate up top and through the middle river. Scuds and midges are always prevalent, and are also good choices on most days. The Watauga brown trout are starting to stack on the redds, and lots of nice fish have migrated up river for the spawn. November through December is a great time to book a trip on the Watauga tailwater. For the do it yourself crowd… stop by our shop, which is located conveniently (HWY 321, Hampton, TN) near some great wade fishing spots. We also have maps with put in/take out locations, and we are always eager to offer advice.

It’s boom or bust on the S. Holston right now… it’s just the gin clear water (feeder creeks have been dry) have the trout seeing everything, and mistakes are compounded when they are not in feeding mode. However, for the advanced angler looking to do some sight-fishing, it can be a brown trout dream world. We have landed some great fish this fall on the S. Holston, and the overall outlook for the river is trending up. Despite the drought and low water levels in Boone Lake, the river is as healthy as ever. Lately, daily hourly pulses and several hours of generation in the afternoon have given us nice windows of opportunity. If you hunt around a little in the evening hours you can usually find pods of fish rising on bwo, midge, and slate dries. Size 18-22 compara duns, sparsely hackled midge emergers, and CDC bwo and slate patterns… Such as loop winged emergers and puff daddy’s (~Dwayne’s for the old school crowd), tied slim, matching the shape and color of the bug will help. Getting on pods of big browns eating scuds mid morning can make your day in an hour or two. Fishing big streamers in high water has been hit or miss depending on the weather, generation schedules, and whether or not shiners are being spit out of the dam.

Thankfully, the S. Holston has two closed sections of river to protect some impressive spawning grounds from fisherman. The closed dates are Nov 1- Jan 28. The 1st section is from Hickory Tree Bridge upstream to the cul-de-sac at Riverbend Rd. The 2nd stretch is from the upper end of the island at Webb bridge downstream to the lower end of the island below Weaver Pike Bridge. Brown and yellow signs are located at the end of each island or on the river right side of the river.
These closed sections ensure our wild strain trout can reproduce without being bothered by anglers during their most vulnerable time.

We also mixed in little guide play time.. deer hunting the NC mountains, and a trip to Venice. Pics included.