If you read the fishing report last week, I mentioned struggling on the Holston in the thick of the shad kill. Now that the kill has tapered off, fish are more active and can be caught using a variety of different techniques. Allen got up there last Friday and found some nice rainbows willing to take small white wooly buggers drifted and twitched in the current.
If you haven’t heard the rumors yet, there have been significant shad kills on much of our local lakes/tailwaters. The Holston got an especially heavy dose last week, but before you get too excited, it seems that the fish got there fill quickly, and then settled down. Andrew and I floated from Cherokee Dam to Tampico last Friday. Thousands of gulls swarmed beneath the dam and at various places down river. Dead and live Shad alike were ample throughout the water column. I fished streamers, I dead drifted shad patterns, I nymphed, I midged, I did everything I know how to do with a fly rod, and I caught nothing. Aside from not feeling a bent rod all day, we also did not even see the first sign of a trout, or a smallmouth, or anything that swims for that matter. Water temps are incredibly cold, both on the Holston and Clinch tailwaters. Temps in the low 40s have fish lethargic on the Holston. I would guess they gorged themselves early on the protein rich bounty and now are stuck to the bottom trying to digest in the bitter cold water. Fishing shad kill scenarios are very dependent on timing it right; I’ll likely head back up there sometime this week to see if fish have started feeding again. While cold water may have the Holston trout hunkered down, the fish on the Clinch River below Norris Dam don’t seem to mind.
The water temperature variation throughout the year on that tailwater is much narrower. The cold snap has fish feeding actively on midges and also willing to chase smaller streamers. Brett got out Sunday and waded much of the upper section, finding success through the rain on a variety of sub-surface midge patterns fished below a yarn indicator. Tan, olive, and black tungsten midges with biot style bodies have been working well. If midge fishing doesn’t have your interest, a small streamer pattern fished on low water or generation has been productive recently. A BH Wooly Bugger or a Triple Double streamer will likely pick up some quality trout, especially if you focus in deeper runs and heavy current lines. We like to swing these flies at the end of a drift as well, and many times the swing is where we get fish to strike. If you are streamer fishing from the boat, get the fly in the water as much as possible, and if you are not getting much attention with big streamers, remember to downsize. Brett also streamer fished from a boat with Christian yesterday, and they had plenty of action to stay entertained.
The GSMNP has been very cold over the last couple of weeks, with ice and snow covering the mountains and streams in numerous areas. Temperatures this week look like they could raise water temps back up to fishable but rain today and Sunday may keep flows pretty high. It is probably best to keep you attention focused here in the Valley. If you do head up to the park, I would focus on nymphing deep unless you see some bugs coming off. Tight-lining with indicator tippet is a great way to get flies deep and increase your mountain stream success rates. Whatever you decide to do this weekend, be safe and mindful of other anglers. As always, we are here to help you so stop by or give us a ring and let’s get you ready for your next outing on the water. We would love to have you swing by the shop or feel free to give us a call at 865-200-5271.
After what feels like weeks of a deep freeze here in East Tennessee, it looks like we are finally going to get a break both with the weather and the flows on the area tailwaters. As of today, TVA is predicting favorable flows on both the Holston and Clinch tailwaters over the weekend and with weather temperatures predicted to be in the 50's for the first time in a long while you've got no excuse for not getting out and fishing.
As with any winter time fishing on the tailwaters your fly box should be stocked with an abundance of midge patterns in a variety of colors. The Clinch has been experiencing significant midge hatches over the last couple of weeks despite the cold temperatures with a larger grey midge popping throughout the day. If I was headed that way I'd make sure I had a handful of Griffith's Gnats and grey zebra midges.
Likewise, the Holston should be good to go with the midge hatches provided we get a bit of sun over the weekend. If you do find yourself up there focus your attention on the flat water and not the riffles. During the winter months, when midges constitute the bulk of the food in a trout's diet, the fish tend to concentrate more in the slower water in order to target the smaller food source. If technical terminal tackle isn't your gig, I'd wager that it would be worth your time to chunk some streamers on the Holston. While I haven't heard any substantiated rumors of a shad kill on Cherokee I do know that both Douglas and Cherokee reservoirs have significant amounts of ice on them and those are precisely the conditions one would expect a kill to occur.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to check TVA generation schedules if you are planning on heading to a tailwater. As always, if you have any fly fishing questions for us please come by the shop or give us a call at 865-200-5271.
The deep freeze that tightened its grip on East Tennessee and much of the south is momentarily over, but don’t get too comfortable just yet. Temperatures have risen out of the 20s and 30s and into the 50s and 60s this week. Unfortunately, this warm weather is only going to last until Friday. Looks another cold front is on its way and will deliver more precipitation and more cold mornings.
The smokies have felt the worst of the recent deep freeze. I was up there this weekend and got to see the effects first hand. If you can believe it, the picture below is at the Sinks on Little River. In some places on Little River, the water was so cold it was freezing from the bottom up. It is not likely the fishing in the freestone streams will pick back up until we see water temperatures climb back into the 40s. Until then, you should spend your time on our local tailwaters.
Despite the weather, the fishing has been very consistent on our tailwaters. The Clinch has been fishing as good as we have seen in recent weeks. Generation schedules have been favorable for both the wading and floating angler. So, there has been no shortage of opportunity to hit the water. Either way you go, a few things will remain the same: The water is cold, and the trout are happy and hungry, and the midge hatches have been insane. Every time I have been on the Clinch in the past 3-4 weeks, there has been a solid midge hatch. They started off sparse and have increased in both abundance and duration more recently. On our recent float down the clinch, we watched trout sip adults and emerging midges for five straight hours. We saw large (#16-#18) black and gray midges on the water the entire afternoon. Although there was plenty of activity on the surface, it was not so easy convincing these fish to take a dry. We largely stuck with beadhead midges fished under a small yarn indicator. Most of our fish took #16 and #18 black midge patterns. Gray midge patterns were also effective. The streamer rod had its fair share of action as well. An olive grumpy muppet fished on a sinking line brought several slot rainbows to the boat.
Speaking of streamer fishing, our friend Keith Oakes ventured down the Clinch this week looking to bag a big fish. Based on this photo, I think they found what they were looking for.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to check TVA generation schedules if you are planning on heading to a tailwater. As always, if you have any fly fishing questions for us, please come by the shop or give us a call at 865-200-5271.
Over the past week temperatures have been dropping significantly. However, the weather doesn’t seem to be slowing down the fishing action on much of our local water. For the floating angler, the clinch River is fishing consistently. Single generator flows seem to have the fish comfortable and more settled throughout the length of the tailwater. Contrary to the past few weeks, fish are not solely concentrated in the upper stretches. Brett and I floated last Thursday, and found feeding fish all the way from Millers Island to Coldwater Farm before rowing out. We were able to pick up slot fish on a variety of techniques.
The streamer rod reigned king at the end of the day, with Brett bagging a nice brown in the final hour on a Sculpin pattern fished near the bottom. At the top of the river, nymphs were more productive, and we fished larger sized Pheasant Tails deep below an indicator. For our rig we chose a size #12 or #14 tied on a jig nymph hook (commonly our go-to anchor fly), followed by a midge or smaller PT. From what we could tell, a few other boats found a lot of success floating that day as well, a good indication for anyone willing to bear the cold for a few hours.
We also got multiple reports in the shop this week of wading anglers seeing their fair share of success. On low water, the Clinch streamer bite can still be productive, but we recommend sizing down to flies such buggers and sparkle minnows. Midges will likely be the main thing on the menu if you do decide to throw on the waders this weekend. The Holston River below Cherokee Dam is in many ways a similar story. On low water, a few anglers have thrown large streamers recently and done well. Other flies to focus on are midge emergers and small parachute style dries. If you are wanting to watch an indicator, the usual fare of midges and PTs should treat you just fine.
If you are itching to get up to the GSMNP, keep an eye on road conditions and weather.looks like it may be a bit warmer, and this could be a good opportunity to go check on the wild trout in the park. After giving the streams the early morning hours to warm up, deep drifted nymphs in larger sizes would likely get some fish in the net. Additionally, we have been finding some success from small streamer patterns fished in appropriate areas. Focus on little pockets on the edges of current lines, and keep an eye out for larger stream features that provide good ambush points for feeding fish.