We are out of the Christmas rush and looking forward to what the new year has in store. We have had some pretty sporadic weather in the last few Winters and that’s an understatement. One year we had record snowfall, the next was one of the warmest we’ve ever seen and this past Winter brought floods that stayed until Spring. In East TN you have to be prepared for anything, so I wonder what we will get this year?
All of the local rivers (Smokies streams/Tailwaters) have been running high this past week due to last weeks heavy rain. The water levels were on their way down when we had another round of steady showers which made the rivers high again.
We did manage to get out a couple of days before the water got high again and it was hit or miss depending on where you fished in the Smokies. The water was cold for the most part at around 40 degrees and the fish were pretty sluggish. The good thing about this time of year is you never know what’s laying in the riffles.
Becky’s first time fly fishing and she scored big at the first spot we hit.
The same ole stuff has been working well, pat’s nymphs, prince nymphs, pheasant tails, hares ears and kauffman stone. If you just have to throw a dry, I’ve seen the occasional fish rise to small black stoneflies in a size 18-16, but don’t count on catching numbers.
The Holston River has been our go to place as long as TVA gives us a good schedule to float on, which has been spotty with all this rain. On the bright side when we have been able to get out the fishing has been fantastic and we are still seeing good hatches of midges, crane flies and caddis. Nymphs are working well in the mornings, but around noon is when we’ve started seeing fish rising to dries.
Rudy’s first time fishing in freshwater and he wasn’t too shabby.
Whether you’re fishing riffles or flat water you can find fish rising, these fish can be picky and need a good presentation before they’ll take a fly. We are blessed to be able to fish 12 months out of the year, but the fact that we can sight fish to risers is awesome. If the fish get a little finicky and refuse your dry, hanging a small midge off the back may just be the ticket.
Sometimes while fishing we’ll see some pretty cool wildlife around the banks of the river such as deer, turkey, bobcats, etc. Yesterday I had the boat anchored while Rudy was casting at a couple of fish and happened to notice a fish sitting on the bottom right below the boat. At first glance I thought “big carp”, but did a double take and realized it wasn’t a carp.
Didn’t expect to see a Sturgeon hanging out so close to the boat.
TWRA started stocking lake Sturgeon in the Holston as well as the French Broad and Tennessee River back in 2000 and from what little we’ve heard they’ve done well in these rivers. This guy was around 4 ft. long and let us get several pictures of him. This was the icing on the cake.
After New Years business starts to slow down around the East TN area but the fishing can still be good. If you’re looking for a quiet getaway where the weather isn’t too bad, the room rates are cheap and you can catch some fish, than look no further than Townsend TN. We hope that you have a happy New Year and accomplish “some” of your resolutions. Take care and have a great day.
Well, it’s December in East TN and we’re seeing pretty typical weather patterns for this time of year. The best way to describe it would be “sporadic”. One week we’re in the 20′s to 30′s and it’s hard to keep the ice out of your guides, the next it’s in the 60′s and we’re in a long sleeve T-shirt. The only reliable thing lately has been the fishing in the Smokies and on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam. If the weather is the only thing to complain about then I think we’re doing pretty good.
The water temps in the Smokies streams have dropped some in the last couple of days which can make the fish sluggish, especially in the morning and the need to eat isn’t as important as saving energy. This doesn’t mean they won’t eat it just means it might take a little more work to get them to take your fly. The good thing is the water levels have also come down which makes it easier to get to the fish and the lack of split shot cuts down on some of the work. LITTLE RIVER WATER LEVEL.
This was Joel’s first fish in the Smokies and though it wasn’t a giant it was a big moment for him.
Your best bet for fishing the Smokies is going to be the warmest part of the day from 11:00am to 3:00pm when the water temps have peaked for the day. This has been the most productive time that we’ve seen, plus the fishermen are happier to sleep in. Keep the flies simple with prince nymphs, pheasant tails and some birds nests and try not to go too big. The water is very clear and big flies can turn fish away in tough conditions.
Probably the best thing we have going for us right now is the Holston River. There are plenty of bugs moving around and the fish are happy and healthy. Nymphs are going to be the biggest producers by far, but during the heat of the day hatches of midges, caddis and crane flies will be on the surface giving us a chance to catch rising fish on dries.
Glenn was having withdrawals from his lack of fishing, but he got his fix.
Pheasant tails, caddis pupa and zebra midges are pretty much all we’ve needed to catch fish as of lately. As the sun gets above head and the fish are most active EHC (tan) and small adams are good choices for surface flies, just make sure to get a drag free drift. Stripping a wolly bugger through the riffles might also get some aggressive strikes from larger than average fish. Apart from the miles of riffles on the Holston it also has it’s share of slow flowing water, some of which can be your best bet for sight casting to actively feeding fish.
You can’t beat sight fishing, especially when the prize is a chunk like this.
Sight fishing is as much fun as it is frustrating sometimes, but in clear flat water it’s neccessary to put the fly directly in front of the fish to get him to eat. If you are blind casting with zero structure to aim for then you can spend hours just practicing your cast. Fishing from a boat gives you the advantage to not only cover water but also adds extra height to see into the water. It’s definitely our favorite way to fish the bigger rivers. Not many places can say the have good fishing in the Winter or even several options to choose from, but if you need to get away and enjoy a quiet weekend and get in some fishing in the process, it’s hard to beat East TN. The mountain towns are quiet and the rates are cheaper.
Let us know if you are getting cabin fever and need to get out on the water, the boxes are filled and we’re ready to go (CONTACT US). Don’t forget about gift certificates for that special outdoorsman as an emergency Christmas gift. Take care and be safe on the water.
First off we hope that everybody had a great Thanksgiving and got to spend some time with family and friends getting as stuffed as the turkey you ate. We traveled a good bit this past weekend through the Midwest to see Ashley’s side of the family and had our fare share of food, family and football. It was nice to see family and have a few days of doing nothing but it was also nice to be back home.
Of course when you get back home there’s plenty of stuff to do. The first thing I needed to check off the list of things to get done was to get some new tires on the truck.
As I was at the shop the guy putting on my new tires had noticed that I had busted a rear shock, so I had another project to get done. Of course when I got home I realized they sold me the wrong shocks and had to go back for the right ones.
Now the plan for the day was to get in a little fishing at some point but with all of the previous projects we only had a few hours to go. We are pretty blessed to live within a few minutes of such great fishing and so many options to choose from. One place we go that is pretty unique is the Lower Little River outside of the Smokies where we do some float trips. TWRA stocks the river with some healthy rainbows in the Fall and Winter and makes for a fun alternative when the streams in the Smokies are cold and the tailwaters are blown out.
Here is Jules with a nice fish from the Little River
Typical stocked trout flies like wooly buggers, egg patterns and any standard nymph will work for these fish. It’s a very pretty and relaxing float to do and is a lot of fun. It does take a certain amount of water to float the section which usually isn’t a problem in the Winter months. If the water does get too low it can get tough to get a boat through and isn’t worth the effort.
We have been seeing better flows on the Holston and Clinch Rivers due to the lakes being at their Winter levels. We are supposed to get rain off and on starting tomorrow so we’ll have to see what that does to the water levels. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that TVA doesn’t have to run a bunch of water next week and we can spend more time on these rivers, but we’ll just have to see. The good news on the Holston is that the fishing is great and we’re seeing caddis, midges and a couple of different mayflies hatching throughout the day and the fish are looking up to take dries as well as nymphs all day.
It’s nice to see fish like these sipping dries in December.
The Holston is known for its big feisty rainbows but occasionally you get a brown trout here and there. The nice thing about the Holston is the ability to get out of the boat and wade fish at any of the many shoals on the river. We decided to do just that and Jules caught a fish on the first cast.
If you are thinking of a nice place to visit for Christmas or New Years with mild Winters and good fishing then look no further than East TN, especially the Townsend area. We will fish through the Winter as long as the weather permits us to so if your looking to get out then give us a call (CONTACT US). Take care and have a great day.