Tag Archives: Streamers

Watauga

brown trout logoby Brown Hobson of Brown Trout Fly Fishing

You can find this river description in our Waters > Tailwaters > Watauga through the navigation bar.

Brown is the owner and head guide for Brown Trout Fly Fishing LLC. He started fly fishing in Western North Carolina as a teenager and the passion for catching trout on the fly created in NC propelled Brown’s move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

brown and tyBrown spent 4 years in the ORVIS store in Jackson Hole as a sales associate, fishing manager, and store manager and was fortunate to learn from many of America’s great fly fishermen while there. Seeking milder winters and closer proximity to family, Brown moved to Asheville and started Brown Trout Fly Fishing.

Brown is a member of the North Carolina Fly Fishing Team, Fly Fishing Team USA, is a former ORVIS Trout Bum of the Week, and a 2014 ORVIS Guide of the Year nominee. His fly fishing experience combined with his ORVIS customer service background give Brown a skill set that allows him to provide exceptional days on the water.

  • Species:  Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout
  • Angler Type:  Boat or Wade
  • Access Type:  Public and Private

Guides

Fly Shops

  • Eastern Fly Outfitters
  • Mahoney’s
  • South Holston River Fly Shop
  • Mountain SportsLodges/Cabins/Hotels

Lodges/Rentals/Hotels/Campgrounds

  • Watauga River Lodge
  • Bee Cliff Cabins
  • Merideth Valley Cabins

Good Eats

  • Pals
  • Ridgewood Barbecue

The River

JakeThe Watauga River tailwater flows from Wilbur Reservoir near Siam TN to Boone Lake near Johnson City. The majority of the water that feeds the Watauga is held in Watauga Lake, but just below Watauga Dam is a second smaller lake called Wilbur. Make sure when you check TVA river flows you look at Wilbur Reservoir not Watauga. The river is approximately 17 miles long from Wilbur Dam to Boone Lake and flows through many different sections and townships. The Watauga River is a Tailwater fishery so always check the Generation Schedule before you go.

Click Here for TVA Generation Schedule and select Wilbur Dam from Lakes and Recreation on the right, it is also a good idea to look at the Watauga Dam generation as this is located directly upstream of Wilbur.

The Upper Section – runs from Wilbur Dam to Hunter Bridge. The first half of the river is mostly on private land and is very gorge like. Huge limestone cliffs dominate the sides of the river until the river gets down to Siam. From Siam to Hunter the river is mostly large shallow riffles with deep slow pools between them. The bug life up here is mostly midges, small mayflies, and scuds. Midges hatch year round and BWOs hatch most commonly from Oct-April. This section is the most likely to stay clear if we see big rains. The upper has the highest fish numbers on the whole river.

The Middle Section – runs from Hunter Bridge to the TWRA access at Blevins Rd. The first half of this stretch has many shallow riffles and smaller runs. Once you pass through Elizabethton the river narrows and gets deeper. There are many big ledges separating slow deep pools and even one small waterfall that must be navigated by boat operators. Bugs here are larger than the upper, but many midges are still found along with bwos, sulphurs, caddis, and craneflies. As you move through the middle fish numbers decrease slightly, but average size goes up.

The Trophy Section – runs from Blevins rd to Persinger Bridge in the town of Watauga, TN. This is the stretch of river that receives the most angling pressure, but it has the largest concentration of big fish. Special regulations forbid the use of bait or scented artificial and anglers can only keep two fish per day of at least 14” in length. This allows many more fish to grow to larger sizes. Insects here are midges, bwos, sulphurs, many different caddis, craneflies, and assorted other mayflies. There is no public wade access except at the beginning and end of this stretch.

WataugaThe Lower Section – runs from Persinger Bridge into Boone Lake. The most popular take out is at the River Stone Campground and your shuttle driver can arrange for you to use that access. It does require an extra fee. This stretch has some of the coolest riffles on the river and several long flats that are great for picking off feeding fish on dries. Bugs here are the same as the trophy section.

The Watauga River flow changes dramatically due to releases from Wilbur Dam. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the TVA has a recreational flow schedule they follow. Basically Monday-Saturday there will be no water until noon or so and then they will generate power and release water for rafters. The TVA usually does not release water on Sundays during the summer. The rest of the year the TVA can generate power whenever they want. Check Wilbur Dam for projected releases and always be ready to get out quickly if an unplanned release occurs. The river is not wadeable during a water release and you should plan to float it.  Also, it is important to note that the Watuaga is not for beginner oarsmen and certain sections are very technical and dangerous.

Gear Recommendations

  • Waders- because the water is cold
  • Felt Bottom Boots or Rubber with Studs the rocks are very slick (No Studs in Boats)
  • Wading Staff
  • 9’ and 10’ 4 and 5 weight rods
  • 3x-6x tippet. Fluor when nymphing Mono for dries

Popular Flies

  • Zebra Midges of all sorts, sizes, and colors
  • Pheasant tail nymphs
  • San Juan Worms
  • CDC comparadun baetis and Sulphur
  • Elk Hair Caddis
  • Beetles and Flying Ants
  • Wooly Buggers
  • Tiny Parachute Adams
  • Eggs

Tips and Safety

• Be very careful when wading. If the TVA begins to generate, get out of the water.
• TVA toll free number 1-800-238-2264

Click Here for TVA Generation Schedule and select Wilbur Dam from Lakes and Recreation on the right.

Fishing Regulations

Please be sure to check current regulations if you are unfamiliar, many of our tailwaters have unique regulations.

Tennessee Fishing Regulations

Click here to purchase a Tennessee Fishing License

Public Access Points

  1. Wilbur Dam
  2. Siam Bridge
  3. Hunter Bridge
  4. 19E Bridge
  5. Blevins Road Access
  6. Highway 400 Access

 

Getting There

From Interstate 81 exit to 57A on to Interstate 26 South to exit 31 on to Highway 321 east towards Elizabethon, TN

Click here for local weather forcast.

Click here to buy a map of the Watauga River!

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Spring Fishing Report Southeastern Style!

Spring

                       Fishinghttp://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/woolly_bugger/jpeg1-1.jpg

                                             Report

                                                                       Southeastern Style…

Hiwassee River Update…We have a great spring situation occurring on the river now. TVA is doing some work to the penstock in Apalachia Lake so we are getting a constant flow from the dam which is the equivalence of between one and two turbines. This should persist through April and is a perfect flow to fish the upper river from the powerhouse to Reliance and the middle section. We very rarely have these flows. I believe it has been about eight years since the last opportunity. What this means is we get to fish the upper and middle sections from the drift boats and that is where the best mayfly action occurs. We have Hendricksons with caddis mixed in turning to Sulphurs late April into May.

http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/woolly_bugger/jpeg1.jpg Bottom of the World Almost…Our Patagonia trip this past February was fantastic as always. The fishing is always epic, but what makes it so special are the people and the place. We have a great group go every year and this year’s group from across the country was no exception. Our Chilean hosts and local guides are some of the most hospitable on earth and the country is mysteriously enchanting with another stream or river around every corner.

Chile is home to some of the world’s best and least explored trout fishing. We continue to fish new water every year. Plans are already underway for our 2012 trip which happens to be the big hatch year for the Cantaria beetle; a fierce looking but harmless insect, up to 4.5 inches in length and a favorite meal for the rainbows and browns. Join us for the fun next year.

The Crystal Ball -Trout Fishing in the Southeastern U.S….Every year about this time people start asking, “How is the fishing going to be this year?” Well, one thing is for certain – every year is different. But based on our winter and early spring weather summary, we are set up for one of the best seasons in east Tennessee and north Georgia. We had a good cold winter with rain and snow which provided us a stable supply of cold water for our mountain trout streams and a cold water reserve in our reservoirs. We have had an extremely wet March which has given us quick lake fill in the TVA reservoirs. So, we should have good stable and predictable flows for spring into summer. Combine all of that with the fact that our trout went through minimal stress last summer and fall and it all adds up to some good rod bending in 2011.
Southeastern Anglers Update…We are celebrating our 12th year as the premier drift boat guide service in the Southeastern USA. We are proud to be able to say that we have been around for a while. It all equates to experience and knowledge on the water and a high quality experience for you, the angler. Take a moment and visit our new website www.southeasternanglers.com. We have added some new services and faces, all without increasing prices for 2011. One great new feature is our new PCI compliant credit card processing system. For only $15.00 per transaction you can be assured that your trip payment via MasterCard or Visa gives you full identity theft protection. The Fishing Reports tab will be updated weekly with “what’s going on.” You can follow us on FB, twitter, or as an RSS feed to stay in the know.

Captain Dane Lawhttp://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/woolly_bugger/png1.png

423-338-7368 / 770-655-9210 (cell)
danelaw@southeasternanglers.com
www.southeasternanglers.com

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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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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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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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Clinch river 11/15 and 11/16

Sorry for the late post, but go fish!

We floated on Monday on the upper river as TVA was generating almost all day.  picked up fish on red zebra midges and pheasant tails on deep nymph righs.  We also threw Kelly Galoup’s Articulated Sex Dungeon on a full sink line and caught a couple of browns and bows.  Great day!

I had some errands to do on Tuesday morning so I did not get on the water till around 11:00am.  However I did fish till dark.  Big surprise, but zebra midges did the trick.  There were a few sporadic caddis hatching, but I did not catch any on top.  Water was off most of the day so it was all wade fishing. 

It was two really great days of fishing.  Also the browns are starting to redd up.  Please respect them and do not harass them on the beds.  I know a lot of folks say that the spawning is not successful, but if you catch a fish that is on a redd, you run the chance of killing the fish as all of his energy is going to spawning.

Tightlines!

FlyFishTennessee Admin

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