July Guide Report

The Watauga and South Holston are dam controlled rivers in E. TN that remain cold year-round. Considering our hot, dry, and sunny month of July, these two rivers have been our primary focus for our guided trips. These tailwaters originate from the depths of South Hoslton and Watauga Lake providing us year-round 50 degree water. This cold water runs for up to 20 miles below the either dam, gradually warming as it enters the body of Boone Lake. The result is outstanding summertime fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout in the most gin clear of water environments.

The South Holston sulphur hatch has ebbed and flowed as always, providing guest with shots at outstanding dry fly days. The upper river is boasting the biggest hatches, while the scud, midge, and terrestrial bite is more dominant the further you move down river. High water float trips in the upper river during the afternoon sulphur and bwo hatch can challenge, and also reward the best dry fly anglers. The scene has been pods of 10-30 fish rising to size 16-22 sulphurs/bwo’s, coming up from the deep, gin clear depths. We have also been targeting trophy sized brown trout, throwing streamers late in the day during high water flows, and sight-fishing to the big fish pods in low water when the situation provides itself.

The Watauga has a little to offer every type of angler with various options for float and wade fishing trips. Numerous sections have fished well during both high water releases and low water flows over the last month. Sulphurs, midges, cranes, little black/blonde caddis, and terrestrials seem to be the go to bugs, but hatches will widely vary throughout the river (Hendricksons, slates, etc). During high water generation you can get away with throwing some meat, especially during the evening hours. Trout fingerling, shad, and sculpin patterms have all worked while bigger has often been better. A terrestrial bite is there mid morning, along with a good sulphur hatch most afternoons. Below the Doe River, tactics can vary widely depending on the water temperatures and color. Once they generate, streamer fishing can become exciting, especially when you luck into stormy weather triggering the action. The beauty of the Watauga is that dry flies, terrestrials, streamers, swinging wets, dry drop, nymphing, etc. can all work on the same trip.