Tag Archives: South Holston

Fried Chicken and Butter

FriedChickenThere is nothing better during a long day of fishing than fried chicken and beer. This tradition started in my teens when I would canoe with my parents and friends in southern MO. I carried the tradition with me to college, which typically also included a frosty beverage or two. Ten years ago I brought this tradition with me to TN and most of my friends  have experienced it at some point or another. I’m sure this is not out of the ordinary as we are in the south. Give it a shot and add some fried chicken to your next fishing trip menu.

DrivingRainYeah, so this was a supposed to be a fishing report so let me get to that. We fished the South Holston on 11/09. I think we were as wet as the trout were as it dumped rain most of the day. Weather like this is the reason that we buy expensive wading jackets, but it isn’t fun fishing in a total down pour. The Brown Trout on the South Holston are getting ready for their annual spawning rituals and TWRA has closed the two normal spawning areas of the river. I typically don’t fish that much in the fall due to a hectic work schedule. However the opportunity arose and I figured one more streamer fishing trip before the end of the year was a good idea.

Version 2My third cast of the day would prove to haunt me for the rest of the trip.  I threw a bad cast and instead of fishing it out I tried to pick it back up and as I did the biggest brown of the day decided to eat.  I had the rod straight up in the air and when I felt her head shake twice it was over, I blew it. It seemed like slow motion, but happened in a split second. Just long enough to haunt me for the rest of the day.  I haven’t throw big streamers in quite some time so I was a little rusty, but I know better than that. You don’t get mistakes when streamer fishing, every cast must count and you have to fish every cast as if that cast is the one. When you BenBentRodstreamer fish you are fishing for the biggest fish of the day. Some days it works out but most days you blow it and miss a true monster. Those are the days that keep you coming back. They are the fish that haunt you in your sleep and are topics for many a tackle and fly tying discussions. I guess if I caught everyone it wouldn’t be fun, as hokey as it sounds it really is about the chase and the eat. I prefer to throw streamers more than anything else. I have seen some true monsters swimming in our East TN waters and the opportunity of landing one on the fly keeps me coming back.

We did catch some nice fish throughout the rest of the day, but that fist one was “The One”.

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Who needs to go out west when you have the South Holston

Really, I get the same comments all of the time. Those comments are; “Where do you fly fish around here?”, “I can’t wait to go out west.” and “It’s just different out west”. Most of the time these folks have never fished the South Holston or Watauga tailwaters, or if they have, they have not ventured far from the popular areas such as the weir dam where the crowds are.

We are very fortunate in Tennessee to have some true gems such as the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters. You can get a true western fly fishing experinence right here in the east. Especially if your willing to take off during the week and either do some hiking, floating or hire one of our local guides, you can really get away from everything. The day we took these pictures we saw only one other boat and two wade fisherman all day. Pretty awesome if you ask me, oh and we caught a bunch of fish too.

We also got an odd surprise by the last picture. I think it is a Lake Trout, but not quite sure. I guess it may have come up from Boone Lake or gotten stocked by accident by TWRA.

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March Madness!

Saturday started out like what seemed to be any other day on the South Holston. As my best friend and fishing buddy cruised from Greeneville towards the river, we were full of excitement and nervous energy. Knowing that all the other streams in the area were gonna be off limits for the day, the South Holston offered two trout bums the chance to float high water, deep nymphing the clearer upper river then swapping over to big nasty streamers in the deeper darker water.

When we got to the launch at Emmett Bridge our hearts sank. There were so many boat trailers in the parking lot that after we launched I rowed across the river to pick up Jake Mullins, from the parking lot at the grates.(which itself was nearly full of raft and drift boat trailers) Once on the water Captain Jake guided his Clacka in and out of boat traffic. A lot of our prime spots already taken and boats waiting to take them again. So I was forced to nymph fish other seams and holes that weren’t as familiar to me. I was running a 9ft 5x leader with a huge SG shot nearly 10 inches above a Cream colored caddis larva. Below the rock worm hung a SZ 18 pheasant tail, which seemed to work well in the upper part of the river. Pulling a few fish on board and watching countless others disappear as they flashed as if to say “goodbye boys you should have been watching that indicator, instead of telling that tale”.

After we floated past the cul-de-sac my streamer itch just had to be scratched. So I asked Jake to hand me the “big stick”! The 7wt Hydros was ready for deployment. I had chosen a super nasty Kelly Galloup pattern, that we had picked up last July in Wyoming. After the Galloup’s TA Bunker went to work, Jake and I were back where we seem to be every weekend, chucking big nasty streamers to our East Tennessee brown trout. And within minutes it paid off! Two fish swirled and refused the pattern before a nice, solid browny took the fly. We were like two little kids with a new toy, and the dark deep streamer water had just began. A nice 18 incher inhaled the Bunker just off the bank above Rivers Way. After a 20 minute fight in heavy current, and a boat chase that ended just upstream of Hickory tree bridge, we had another but quite a bit larger sample of the South Holston’s brown trout population in the net.

After floating past Jack Prater’s house, Jake couldn’t take it anymore. He gave up his seat at the oars, which I gladly took, after my morning I was perfectly content to row the Clacka the remainder of the day. He swapped the fly for the soon to be famous “trashy pole dancer” patent pending. And we were amazed as brown trout gave chase to this brain child of Jake’s that had worked beautifully a few weeks before on the Watauga river. After a few short strikes, and tons of interested but wary fish, Jake went back to the bunker. The solitude of pre-spring on the river was shattered by a shout from the front of the boat. “HOLY @!#$”, I sank the oars deep and pulled back hard to try to slow the boat as the hydros bent double! No sooner than we realized what had happened….. the leader snapped. And we stared helplessly as one of the largest brown trout I have ever seen, slipped backwards into the depths of the dark water. Shaking his head side to side with the Bunker inside his mouth. Jake quickly said “Hurry dude I need another one”! I replied, “Man I think that was my last one”. After a desperate gear search we managed to find one more Bunker hidden in a secret stash, well used to be secret stash in my boat bag.

He fished the Bunker hard for the rest of the float. Fighting the strong wind and the nagging taunts from his oarsman that kept reminding him of the one that got away. A couple of very nice brown trout later, and countless curious fish that wouldn’t fall for the bunker, we arrived at Rock Hold. Which was our scheduled take out for the day. However the excitement was far from over! A snapping turtle had decided to make the ramp his place of choice, to soak up the last few rays of sun, before the shadows took over the river bank. After a few fun snapshots and stories of the monster still lurking in the depths, we decided that it was time to travel back to Greeneville.

Days on the river are always an adventure. Whether it be mother nature or swarms of fishermen instead of flies. Sometimes the obstacles that we look at as a challenge, force us to explore other sides, seams, and parts of the water. A beautiful day with a friend like Jake, will always be a joy. And a friend as crazy about the sport as I am makes it easy to always find a reason to hit the water. I am reminded of a famous quote that seems to sum up all the excitement and wonder that March Madness on the South Holston brings. “Perhaps fishing is, for me, only an excuse to be near rivers”. -Roderick Haig-Brown-

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Are we Old School!

Man, I recently had my computer crash.  I had everything on that machine. I was shifting through some you tube videos this evening and wouldn’t you know I found an old video of some buddies and myself. Boy do we look look young and it’s only been about four years. We fished a lot back then and fished hard. Not sure if I could hang today. Check out the vid and enjoy.

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South Holston and Streamers

I kicked off the new year to a good start. On Tuesday I made it up to the South Holston River to fish with a couple of buddies, Jake and Ben. We floated from the wier down to Weaver Pike Bridge. TVA was generating from 6 am to noon and we put on the water around 9:30am. Jake loves to throw streamers and I had dreams of catching big post spawn brown trout. We didn’t get that pig, but we caught some quality fish and had a great time. I had not been in a drift boat since before Thanksgiving and it was a needed retreat.

We had some really great follows throughout the day and saw some big fish.  Most of the time they wanted them striped fast, but other times slow and steady seemed to work good.   We never really got them dialed in, but still caught some good fish.

It’s funny how you always seem to get a hit when you least expect it.  I am usually looking around at the scenery, others may be sipping their favorite beverage or even looking for the next sweet casting spot.  Whatever your story is it always makes for some interesting hook ups.  I won’t say who did this one.

I’d like to say thank you to both Ben and Jake for a great day on the water.  Tightlines.

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Warm weather and a New Year

Warm weather is on the way! I hope everyone is planning on fishing this weekend.

I’ll be working in the shop, Orvis – Sevierville, so stick one for me. If I did have the day off I’d would hit the Smokies and fish Little River for big brownies. They should Start getting active with the rising water temps. Be careful if the water is high.

Another good option would be the South Holston or Watauga rivers. Zebra Midges, Sulphurs and Blue Wing Olives would be great choices.

Tightlines and Happy New Years!

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Its all about location…

We are blessed here in Tennessee to have several great spots for trout.  Tailwaters and wild streams abound here in the Volunteer state, and no matter where you live, you are close to great opportunities to fly fish for Rainbows, Browns and Brooks.  This brought a thought to mind.  What spot in our state is the best place to live if you fly fish for trout?

The primary criteria I used in my assessment was drive time to various locations.  It might be that you live five minutes from Tims Ford, but if you want to fish the South Holston you better be ready to drive.  I was in search of the single spot where, with a reasonable drive time you could reach more than one trout fishery within the state.  It was very tempting to expand the search so that I could include the wonderful opportunity found in North Georgia, Southern Kentucky, and North Carolina; but Tennessee is the criteria. 

There are several bodies of water that I did not include.  Not because they are bad locations, but I just thought it would be easier to use the high producing locations that can easily accommodate a lot of anglers.  The rivers/ locations I used are: Caney Fork, Clinch, Holston, South Holston, Watauga, Hiwassi and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I also tried to avoid an “as the crow flies” philosophy when determining distance.  Anyone who is familiar with Tennessee and East Tennessee in particular knows that you might be just over the mountain from a location, but getting there is a little more involved than just hopping over the ridge.  It had to be from point A to point B drive time.

After consulting several mapping services and calculating the quickest drive time to each location, here is what I found. 

If you are an avid fly fisherman in Tennessee and your primary target is trout, the best place to live which gives you the most opportunities to fish multiple rivers in pretty much the same amount of drive time is….

Masterson Road in South Knox County Tennessee.

If you are a fly angler for trout and are lucky enough to live on Masterson Road, here are your relative drive distances to fish each of the subject waters.

129 miles to the Caney Fork (2 1/2 hours)

129 miles to the South Holston. (21/2 hours)

104 Miles to the Watauga. (1 hour 45 min.)

65 miles to the Hiwassi. (1hour 15 min)

39 miles to the Holston (45 min)

38 miles to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (45 min)

31 miles to the Clinch River (30 min)

Keep in mind that this is drive time based upon legal driving speeds.  Depending on how badly you want to be in the water, your drive times may vary.

If you live within a good rock throw of any of these waters, consider yourself lucky.  Those who live in Clinton, Bristol, New Market, or Townsend have immediate access to trout and if you are one of those people my hat is off to you for your selection in location.

But if you are like the majority of us and have to drive more than ten minutes to get to the river, then you might want to consider Masterson Road in South Knox County.  I mean its always good to have options isn’t it?

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