It has been a wet and wild few weeks here in East Tennessee and it looks like Mother Nature isn't quite done throwing us a few curve balls. Today's high temperature has come and gone and we are set to dip back into the thirties overnight tonight. Despite the wind, rain, and snow, the fishing has been nothing short of fantastic with good bug activity on all of our tailwaters as well as in the ountains.
We've been seeing fair to decent hatches on the Clinch River below Norris Dam throughout the day but builiding towards the later part from about four o'clock till dark. At present the adult sulfurs have been on the larger size and I've had good luck with a size 14 Sparkle Dun or a Parachute Sulfur. With the wind up, and it has indeed been up, soft hackles have been a better bet but the standard beadhead pheasant tail in sizes 14 and 16 are sill catching plenty of fish. When in doubt, let that rig swing out at the end of your drift as the fish have really been keying in on the emergers. Both Matt and Brett reported catching a bunch of fish in the faster water and riffles.
I managed to get out on the Holston yesterday afternoon for a spell. With the wind gusting up to 25mph it was tough to tell whether the fish were eating on the surface but there were plenty of caddis in the air being blown up stream. I fished a size 16 beadhead pheasant tail and a size 18 olive soft hackle and brought a number to fish to hand before I had to head back into town. The stockers from November are a respectable 13 inches or so and are rounding out nicely. I managed a couple of holdover fish as well. Like the Clinch, when the wind is up it pays dividends swinging soft hackles through choice water. The report I got from Tony on my way out was that I was leaving way too early (it was about 6). He told me that there's a decent sulfur hatch later in the evening as well.
While I haven't had a chance to chase too many smallmouth the past week or so I'm getting some good reports from the French Broad. The flows on the Broad have been pretty fantastic the last two weeks and that has no doubt allowed the water temperatures to get up into a comfortable zone for smallmouth. Looking at the weekend predicted flows, however, it looks like TVA may be bumping up the generation for a bit. That can mean great things on the lower end of both the Holston and the French Broad with respects to white bass and skipjack shad. If you haen't tried your hand at fly fishing for those two species you really need to give it a go.
By all accounts the Great Smokies National Park has been fishing very well despite this roller coaster weather we've been having. Obviously with temperatures dropping into the thirties at night for the next few days your time is probably better spent focusing on the warmer afternoon hours. A dry-dropper rig should do just the trick and you probably couldn't pick a prettier weekend to get out in the mountains than this weekend.
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, be safe and have fun. As always, check generation schedules prior to fishing any of our tailwaters. Let us know how we can help you get on the water this weekend and this spring. Give us a call at 865-200-5271 if there is anything we can help you with.