Cooler weather has seemingly finally arrived here in East Tennessee. This morning we got the first real frost in the Knoxville and surrounding area. These colder temperatures will hopefully prove to be a welcomed relief to much of our cold water fisheries. The Clinch river has been giving the wading angler sporadic opportunities, with a small window yesterday afternoon even thrown into the mix. I got word last night from a fishing buddy who made it up to the top stretches of the tailwater during that window, and he seemed to be getting more fish in the slot
than we have seen in recent weeks. If you are willing to get down and dirty with heavy nymphs and the occasional squirmy worm (if you can still sleep at night) then you’ll do fine. I also would not shy too far from midges if the bigger stuff isn’t getting it done. We are quickly approaching our main midge season, as that becomes the main forage during our colder months of the year.
Our smallmouth bite is starting to taper off with the cooler temps, but fish of larger size will likely still be found if you know were to look. Brett and I were on the French Broad on Sunday, and saw a pair of fish in the 18+ inch class cruising in some softer water. The smallies have largely moved into areas with less current, so focus your efforts more towards banks and pockets instead of faster runs. The Holston River below Cherokee Dam is still producing smallmouth in the mid to lower river. A report from a customer recently who was at Nance’s Ferry would suggest that smaller bait fish will likely produce best, and this would correlate with what I’ve seen recently on the Broad as well. The upper Holston for trout is likely going to be more of a possibility now with cooler temperatures setting in. As we have said before, I would strongly encourage you to take water temps if you are on the Holston, and adjust your pursuit to either smallmouth and trout accordingly.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is in peak season right now, and the leaves are about as good as we will see. The park got plenty of rain earlier in the week and it has the streams flowing at ideal levels. Cooler temps in the morning means you don’t have to be out there super early, but the fishing should be fantastic from mid-morning through the early evening. Larger browns will likely be moving round on Little River preparing for their spawn. Multiple anglers are spotting these trophy browns on a consistent basis. The name of the game here is largely walking the banks and hunting individual fish, rather than blind casting all day. For all of you who prefer to chase the larger game fish, this is a good time of the year to be targeting Striper and Musky. Dean Vavalides fished Musky earlier this week and moved a couple fish, which if you aren’t aware, is a good day Musky fishing! If you are interested in getting on either of these species, we recommend giving Cpt. Jon Oody of Tennessee Valley Anglers a ring at 865-363- 8180.
After another hot weekend here in East Tennessee, the temperatures have finally dropped here in the valley. This week we will see highs in the 60s and low 70s with lows in the 40s. This cold snap is going to provide some much-needed relief for our fisheries. We are seeing a significant upswing in fish activity on the Clinch River below Norris Dam. Word from the guide boats points to deep nymph rigs while floating on generation. Larger attractor nymphs with small midge trailers fished deep (6ft. plus if you are comfortable) seem to be the ticket. For the wading angler, low water fishing is also improving, but long leaders in the 12-15ft. range are necessary along with 6x fluorocarbon tippet. In these scenarios, small midges and small pheasant tails still reign king.
The smoky mountains are looking spectacular right now. The leaves are nearing peak colors, the air is cool, and our native brook trout are starting to get fired up. Recent rain has also replenished many of the watersheds in the park that were thirsty for water. Per recent reports, the brook trout fishing has been excellent. Fish are still eager to eat a dry fly. We have seen a good number of caddis on the water, so a #14 or #16 Elk Hair Caddis in tan or orange is a great choice for a dry fly. For nymphs, we recommend dropping a #16 caddis pupa hare’s ear or #16 soft hackle pheasant tail. If you are fishing Little River or some of the other mid to low elevation streams in the park, be on the lookout for some of the larger brown trout. This is the time of year the larger fish in the river come out of their deep-water haunts and can be seen staging for their fall spawn. This is one of the best times to catch one of these trophy browns.
The upper Holston River below Cherokee Dam is still too warm for ethical trout fishing. Anytime we see those water temperatures in the 60s or higher, the trout are going to act sluggish and the fishing is going to suffer. We encourage you to lay off that section of river until we get colder weather and cooler water temperatures. However, smallmouth fishing on the Holston River has been outstanding. Recent Fly Fishing 101 graduate, Julian, has been all over the smallmouth recently. Smallies have been eager to chase down streamers, specifically larger wooly buggers and tequeely flies. These fish should have the feedbags on for the next few weeks in an attempt to fatten up before the real cold weather arrives. Carp are still on the move and feeding well on the Holston and French Broad. They have been willing to take a hybrid carp fly or carp nymph that is put in their line of sight. Black or Olive have been the colors of choice most recently.
Take advantage of the cooler weather and abundance of fishing opportunities that are available right now. Whatever you decide to do, have fun and be safe. As always, if you have any questions feel free to swing by the shop or give us a call at 865-200-5271.
Matt and myself completed the last leg of our incredible summer experience by visting Washington D.C. this week. Trout Unlimited hosted us at their headquarters in Arlington, Virginia for three days. We had the pleasure of meeting with staff members of our respective state senators as well as key members of the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and the Bureau of Land Management. We capped the trip off with a fantastic evening at the house of Trout Unlimited's CEO Chris Wood. This was a great opportunity for us to expose the value of our public lands and native trout through our experiences this summer. Here is a short video highlighting some of our favorite experiences this summer. Enjoy!
Although the mercury is not as low as we would like, today marks the first day of Fall here in East Tennessee. Temperatures are going to remain in the 80’s for the next few days along with clear skies and cooler nights. The fishing here is good and only going to get better. The French Broad is fantastic right now. Recent trips to the FB have yielded many great smallmouth bass on both stealth bombers and wiggle minnows. The carp still have the feed bags on as well as they prepare for cooler weather and cooler water temps.
The lower Holston continues to produce consistent warmwater action. However, water temperatures below Cherokee dam are still at dangerous levels to be fly fishing for trout. We urge you to explore some of our other fishing opportunities until those water temperatures drop down to safer levels. The Clinch might have seemed unusually grinchy the last week or so. This is likely due to the turnover of Norris reservoir. We saw water temperatures climb well above the average and saw an increase in turbidity. No worries though, the Clinch is working its way back to its normal self just in time for the weekend.
Lack of rain has kept the streams in the smokies and national forest low. Your best bet is staying stealthy and working the higher elevation streams where the water temperatures are going to be a bit cooler. Whatever you decide to do this weekend, stay safe and have fun!
It looks like any of the strong winds and heavy rains stemming from the two recent hurricanes has subsided, and it was a pleasant surprise to not get as much water as we were preparing for. This weekend is looking to be our first taste of some pleasant fall weather. With temperatures in the 70s and little rain it should be the perfect combination for good fishing. As temperatures drop, larger trout in the tailwaters should start to get more active, and I would probably focus my efforts towards the early morning bite before the fog layer burns off the water. In recent years, sunrise has proven to be excellent during the fall months. This also means that you may beat the crowds and be able to claim a section of water for yourself, as it is likely many folks will come out of the woodwork due to the comfortable weather. The Clinch River below Norris Dam will have wading opportunities throughout the weekend, with predicted flows around 3,00cfs or lower for Friday, Saturday, and most likely Sunday. For those of you still learning flow charts, this means that the mornings should be generator free, followed be a recreation flow in the afternoon. This accommodates the needs of both the wading and boating angler, along with kayakers and the like. The Clinch is fishing about the same as past weeks, with small midges and pheasant tails being the main flies to be throwing. It may not be a bad idea to throw small streamers as well, particularly olive in color.
While the Grinch is a good place to be this weekend, I would not be fishing on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam for trout of any kind. The water on the Holston is far too warm right now, according to a report from one of the more prominent guides in our area. That being said, hunting for smallmouth on the lower stretches of the river, from Nance’s Ferry down should be top notch. Our warm water bite has continued to be strong and a recent float from our usual lunch crew proves it, as Mike was able to bag a nice smallmouth without even trying! Along with the lower Holston, the French Broad tailwater below Douglas Dam is also fishing well. Brett was able to get out there this past weekend and had a truly stellar day fishing for carp. The rubber lipped fish seem to be happy and hungry and the usual selection of buggy looking nymphs should coerce them into playing the game.
Though most of the valley is a bit more accessible to people, this weekend will be an amazing time to be in the GSMNP. The park will have very mild temperatures and beautiful weather. All of the wild trout in our mountains streams should be out feeding actively. Larger nymphs, greenie weenies, and even small streamers (according to a recent report) will likely get some attention. As we have mentioned before, the next few weeks offer anglers the best shot at tangling with a large wild brown trout in the park.
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, give us a call at (865) 200–5271 or swing by the shop to get more details on how you can be successful on the water. We hope everyone gets out and enjoys our local outdoor resources. Be safe and have fun!