Tag Archives: Tennessee Fly Fishing

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!

clinch_upper_tw_ad

facebookmailfacebookmail

How was the Fishing??????

I hope everyone got out this weekend. I’m planning on fishing a bit the next couple of days, so hopefully everyone left me some fish. If anyone has any good fishing reports, feel free to email them to me and I can post them up (or just keep the info to myself also).

  • Admin@flyfishtennessee.com
  • I also just ran across this ad online. I’ve shopped with rock creek in the past and didn’t even realize they were a Tennessee outfitter.

  • Check out the ongoing sales and promotions at Rock/Creek!

    facebookmailfacebookmail

    Sometimes Fly Fishing and Religion don’t mix

    How many times have you heard fly fishing and religion in the same sentence? How often do you read about the spiritual nature of the sport and how the soul is placed at ease whilst angling?

    Well, let me tell ya…fly fishing and religion met in a very unique way for me last night, and being one who is always up for a good laugh, I thought I would share.

    There is a fella starting a new company here in the U.S. and one of his products are hooks. I was fortunate enough to receive a free pack of scud hooks in the mail from him and in a fit of absent mindedness I laid them on the kitchen table.

    My wife was not home and I was trying to get four kids ready for our churches evening service. If you have never tried to get four children ready to go anywhere quick, it is like trying to put four spastic rainbow trout in a greasy sack. Chaos.

    So my youngest (2 yrs.) comes walking into the kitchen and sees the pack of hooks. I dash over, grab them and just shove the pack into my pocket as I shuttle the oldest two into the van and try to get the wild man which is my son to not wear his sandals to church. I pick up the littlest one and put her in her car seat. ZOOM! We are off to church.

    I deposit my kids in their appropriate classes and head to the sanctuary. Our church is very contemporary in our evening service. Lights low in the pews, loud music, it is a real event. Anyway, when the music starts we all stand up to sing when this incredible pain shoots into my thigh. I am thinking muscle cramp and sit back down. This is when I realize that the hooks are in the process of doing that which hooks are designed to do. Amidst the praise and worship I am being impaled!!!

    “Gotta get to the bathroom”, I think to myself and step out of the pew. The trouble is that with every step the hooks are digging into my leg. So, I walk stiff legged, much like Chester on the old Gunsmoke series, to the bathroom. Thankfully upon stepping into the stall and dropping my trousers, I see that the barb of these three assailants has yet to go below my skin. Removing the hooks was easier than I thought and after wiping the small trickles of blood from my leg, I returned to the service in time to hear one of my all time favorite songs (Revelation Song for those who might want to check it out).

    So in closing, what did I learn from this? 1) Don’t leave hooks where a two year old can get them, 2) When leaving the house for anything other than fishing there is no need to have hooks in your pocket, 3) sometimes fly fishing and religion meet and it isn’t peace, serenity, and well being…sometimes its downright painful.

    facebookmailfacebookmail

    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?

    facebookmailfacebookmail

    Clinch Repeat

    Generation is getting better and better every day. Mother nature also decided to ease up a bit on the weather. It ended up being an absolutely beautiful day. The original plan had been to float with a buddy, but that changed. He works nights and got in very late so it didn’t work out. I guess I won’t hold it against him this time. So instead I ended up driving around, looking at some new spots and hanging out at CROutfitters until the water dropped out enough to wade fish. Cal just started carrying Simms waders plus he got in a bunch of other stuff, it’s worth the stop. I like his shop a lot and he’s also got some great stories to boot.

    The fishing was pretty good and the fish were all super healthy. I didn’t catch anything that big, but they were all great fish that pulled really hard. I’ve got my fingers crossed. This year could be the year to be on the Clinch.

    facebookmailfacebookmail

    Caney Fork 8/26/2009

    If you hadn’t read my previous post last Friday was awesome! Twenty inch fish rising to dry flies. I don’t think I can imagine anything better.

    Well Doug and I thought it would be a great idea to check it out again. TVA was going to generate one hour later than they had the previous trip up. Other than that it was for the most part the same conditions. We dropped the boat and were fishing by 7am. We started picking fish up on dry/dropper rigs, then switched to streamers for a bit.

    At a real nice riffle section, we both got out and did a little wade fishing. Doug was fishing a dry/dropper rig and landed a few fish. I was using a double nymph rig with a zebra midge on top and a sow bug on bottom. I had landed three fish fairly quickly and the fourth fish was a really nice brook trout.

    That’s when I realized there was something wrong. With every flip of his tail I had a terrible pain growing in my finger. Oh no, I’m hooked, fish is hooked! I grabbed both lines and broke the fish off, so I could check the damage. He got me good, the size 14 sowbug was completely buried in my finger along the side of my finger nail. I gave it a few tugs with my hemostats, but it wouldn’t budge, this was going to be brutal, I thought.

    About that time Doug rowed up and I hoped in the boat. There was no way we were going to cut this fishing trip short for a teeny hook in my finger, but I had to get it out some how. Doug most graciously offered to do it himself, but I didn’t go for that. Especially when he had that half grin on his face. So after much haggling from Doug and having soaking my hand in the cooler to numb everything, I man upped and with one quick pop ripped it out. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it’d be, but wow it stung!

    Okay back to fishing and after all this drama we were up on the good stretch where we’d done so well the week before. It took a little time for the fish to start rising again. The only thing left now was for us to put the fly in front of them and not mess it up. We fortunately had some great success. I’ll let the pictures speak for them selves.






    We did have two fish break us off and I missed a few again, but was much better on my hook sets than our last trip. One of the coolest moments was when I had a really nice twenty plus inch Brown jump about three feet out of the water! It was absolutely insane.

    Definitely a great way to spend the day after my birthday, with a great friend on a great river catching some great fish.

    Tightlines,
    Kris Maurer

    facebookmailfacebookmail

    Caney Fork 2/01/08….This time it worked…….

    Alright, so if you read the last post our previous trip didn’t go so well, but it was a good learning experience. I’m not sure what I learned though. Clay and Sean proably learned not to go on wild goose chases with me.

    So I’ve had some really good days on the Caney Fork the last couple of months and in talking with Clay, he was wanting to check it out for himself. With that we decided to hit up the Caney Fork. We left Knoxville around 7am and got to the Caney around 8am, due to the time difference. I missed the exit for the dam and proceeded to the next exit. We took the round about way and I showed Clay the Betty’s Island access along with a few others. We took a tour of the dam and looked at the crazy leaks coming out of the bluff, which always makes me a bit uneasy, untill I start thinking about the fishing and forget about the possibility of being washed away.

    We stoped first at a pull off along Lancaster Road that I had never fished before. As we were rigging up we could see some fish rising on the far bank. After climbing down to the river we saw that the fish were rising to some very small midges. We both tried some nymph rigs to start with, but that produced no results, so we switched to some small Griffs Gnats and began picking up a few small fish. About this time it started sleeting and the hoods came up. A little while later I switched to a dry dropper rig. My dry was a large Parachute Adams and the dropper was Bead Head Pheasant Tail type nymph tied by Steven “Bubba” Dark. I think he calls this one Just Add Water and that is about the truth. I stuck a few more small bows before heading off to another location farther down Lancaster Road.

    Our day almost came to an abrupt end as we had placed our rods in the back of my truck with the bed topper propped up. I thought it would stay in the raised position as we drove down the road a few hundred yards, but due to the high winds I was wrong. I looked back to see that the bed cover was no longer in the up position and for a second I thought of not even telling Clay and just driving home, as I envisioned our rod tips dangling by a bit of fly line and leader. I gave in and pulled over very quickly, we both expected to find two broken rods, but to our surprise they were both okay. I guess the fishing gods had blessed us this day.

    Okay, disaster adverted and on to the fishing. This second location is a spot that I had witnessed some very large browns spawing back in the fall. After getting into position we found some very nice sized fish rising to emergers and small midges. Rigged with dry dropper rigs we began to pick off fish after fish. At times they were rising all around us. Nothing gets my heart racing more than seeing fish sip dries off of the surface. We both caught some very nice fish during the small hatch. Afterwards I started getting a little creative and swung a Wiggle Minnow down the entire run. I didn’t get any firm hook ups but I did get five or six very aggresive follows. Oh I also didn’t mention the twenty mile per hour wind gusts, the fish didn’t mind and we didn’t mind as long as they were on the end of our line, but it did make things difficult at times.

    This trip turned out the be very successfull and I’d say we landed around fifty fish toghether with a few really nice ones tossed in the mix. The Caney Fork surprises me every time I go and I always leave planning my next trip.

    facebookmailfacebookmail

    Ok, so that didn’t work

    Last friday Kris, Sean, and I decided to try a rumored spot behind the John Sevier power plant in Rogersville. Kris had heard that there were all sorts of stripers and carp that stacked up in the warm water discharge from the plant. The parking lot is located a good distance from where we were fishing and it was cold as balls, so we decided to walk down before wadering up.

    It was only slightly disconcerning to see a sign by a holding pond which read “If contact with pond-water is possible or anticipated, contact plant saftey coordinator”. After the expected jokes, we pushed on to the river.

    We startled a nice deer along the way, and what we could see as we approached looked promising. We returned to the car, suited up, rigged, and walked back.

    I know I mentioned in my last post that it isn’t always about the catching fish, but in hindsight it would take some pretty solid info that the fish were in fact there (in all fairness, it was considerably warmer than the mainstream of the river, and it did look fishy as hell) to get me to go back again. Something like pictures of 20 stripers in one day…maybe.

    My wading boots still smell Kris 🙂

    I can’t say that we didn’t have fun, and this is the cabin-fever time of year. Any excuse to put-off the “Honey-do” list and go fishing with your buddies is all it takes. In 6 weeks or less we will be fishing pretty back in the park, or drifting the tailwaters. We have a steelhead trip coming up (more on that later), and I am sure that we will find another excuse to “stand in a river, waving a stick” before then.

    facebookmailfacebookmail