We’re finally getting a little relief from the heat with highs in the upper 80’s rather than mid 90’s. Hopefully the trend will continue and we’ll have a smooth transition into fall. Rain has been spotty, but when it comes, it comes big! Fishing should do nothing but get better between now and late November.
Mountains: As mentioned above, the mountains have been getting periodic thunderstorms, especially on the North Carolina side, so water levels are pretty decent. Little River fluctuates daily from 70cfs and 400cfs with every storm that hits. When fishing under low water conditions, think dry flies and think stealth. In brief periods of fishing high water, get closer to the target and try nymphs on current edges.
Fly selection is pretty standard with attractors in sizes #18 – #14 producing well. In times of low water, consider a smaller dry fly and lighter tippet. In high water, you may tie on a nymph with a little more meat. We’re still in terrestrial season so don’t forget the ants, beetles, and inchworms. Fishing will still be best at higher elevatons and early in the morning. But if we continue to see rain and the temperatures continue to drop, fishing on the lower waterways should begin to improve.
Tailwaters: Most of the tailwaters are running water right now. Power demand is up and storms are putting more water in the lakes so generation is pretty heavy through most of the day. The South Holston appears to be the best bet for the coming days. Below is a rundown of East Tennessee’s five most popular. As always, these schedules can change, for better or worse, every day so be sure to check before you go. Clicking on the river name below will take you right to the most current water release information for that fishery. If you have appropriate watercraft, your options may be a little better than those without.
Clinch – The Clinch is currently running 2+ generators all day. Wading really isn’t an option right now and floating will consist of pounding the banks with streamers and likely very few strikes. They may relax the schedule for the weekend so keep checking. If and when they relax the generators, expect very little surface activity other than on midges. A griffith’s Gnat might be a good choice. Most fish are coming on small nymphs – #18 and smaller.
Holston – Here you’ll find low water early but releasing water from late morning on. The window of opportunity for wading is small but existent. You could fish near the dam until about 10 a.m. and down near Nance’s Ferry, you’d have until about 3 p.m. The same fly advice as for the Clinch but also keep an eye out for periodic hatches of Cinammon Caddis. The Holston tends to warm up more than most East Tennessee tailwaters so trout fishing can really slow down in the summer. The closer you are to the dam, the better the trout fishing will be. But don’t forget, the Holston is a fantastic smallmouth fishery and this is a great time to catch them. Click on this Holston River link for more information about this fishery.
Hiwassee – The Hiwassee is cranking water all day. Floating is an option but like the Clinch, will mostly involve heaving streamers. If you the generation relaxes, you may see some surface activity on BWO’s and a potpourri of caddis. Otherwise, favorite beadheads in sizes #18 – #14 should be productive.
South Holston – The South Holston is still running an unusual schedule where they are sluicing all day for minimum flow. This kind of schedule has a tendency to provide very good fishing conditions. Floating is a good option and most of the normally shallow areas should be wadeable, just with a little more flow. #16 Pheasant Tails will provide the most activity here along with Sulfurs on top.
Watauga – The Watauga is low in the morning but running a lot of water in the afternoon, so try to get on the water early. Small, dark nymphs are a good bet and also keep an eye out for hatching BWO’s, Sulfurs, and Little Olive Caddis.
Delayed Harvest Streams: Delayed harvest has come to an end. Streams like Tellico and Citico are now stocking regularly. Remember you need a special daily permit to fish these rivers and they are closed to fishng on Thursdays and Fridays.
For more info: Check out my Facebook page and become a fan! I am regularly adding great videos, photos, fly patterns, and updated fishing reports. I also use the page to periodically announce specials and currently have a terrific deal for booking early on fall trips! You can also get up to date fishing reports at our page on Fly Fisherman’s Compass, at Fightmaster Fly Fishing, and Little River Outfitters.