Summer 2018 update

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The cold waters of the South Holston and Watauga provide us with exceptional fishing throughout the summer months. Some would argue the late summer months of August and Sept boast the most productive fishing of the year. “Sluicing” flows of ~300 Cfs to 2000 cfs opened up lots of floatable water, but has limited wade fishing access during higher flows. Both tailwaters are producing both consistent numbers and some of the largest wild brown trout in the country are hitting the nets.

Sulphur hatches, beetle fishing, sight fishing, and low light streamer fishing rule the summertime game on the S. Holston.  Beginner anglers can enjoy the high numbers of both stocked rainbows and wild fish thriving in the upper portions of the river throughout summer. As you travel downstream the river shifts to wild brown trout dominant sections that fish comparable to other great tailwaters across the country.  Extremely large resident and lake run fish (Boone Lake is downstream) will migrate up river as summer progresses and bump around again just prior to the winter spawn. This gives anglers shots (often sight fishing) to some of the largest wild brown trout found anywhere. Hookups with fish over 2ft are not uncommon, and we have landed several just under the 30″ mark this season. The unusually high grass growth this season has the river teaming with scuds, midges, small caddis, aquatic worms, and mayflies.  Things are on the up and up for the upcoming fall run, winter spawn, and overall health of the river. Striper action on the lower sections of the river and into Boone Lake, which is still drained for dam repairs, has been hit or miss depending on weather and water. We have tricked plenty on fly, including some really nice fish pushing 30 lbs.

The Watauga tailwater continues to consistently produce and offers anglers a wide variety of water to fish. Big lake run stripers, smallmouth, and brown trout litter the lower stretches down into Boone Lake allowing  unique multi species float and wade trips. High numbers trout pack the upper stretches of the river and will keep anglers of any skill level busy.  As of early September, the large browns have podded up and begun their prespawn activity and feeding. Like the S. Holston, this is a great time to sight-fish to the big browns during clear water or catch them off guard with big flies in darker water. Bug wise… Sulphurs, slatey mayflies, midges, caddis, little stones, terrestrials, and crane flies will all show themselves depending when and where you are. Dry opportunities will present themselves most days on the Watauga.  Watching the water levels of Stoney Creek and the Doe River, in conjunction with generation schedules, is vital to finding productive water.

We have been chasing the smallmouth bass on the Holston and Nolichucky Rivers this year. Both river’s are producing extremely well and each have their unique qualities that make them special. The Nolichucky is a freestone river and one of most scenic rivers out there. With a combination of breathtaking scenery and feisty unpressured bass, this is a great trip for the adventure seeking angler looking to get on a pure untainted fishery. Shots at trout, musky, spots, and the full range of panfish species will show up as well. The Holston, another tailwater river, is a smallmouth bass powerhouse  and one of the best smallie fisheries in the world. We love sneaking around in drift boats targeting big smallmouth with advanced fly-rod and spinning gear techniques on this year-round bass fishery.