TENNESSEE TROUT FISHING

South Holston & Watauga Rivers

South Holston River Morning on the Watauga

Tennessee trout fishing on these rivers is unique by any standards.

If you have been thinking of taking a vacation soon, and you like fly fishing, let me introduce you to Tennessee trout fishing on the Watauga and South Holston Rivers. Thanks to the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Trout Unlimited (TU) these rivers are considered to be among the best tailwater fisheries in the eastern United States.

Drift boat for floating the Watauga

Nice trout from the Watauga

The Watauga river, located just below Elizabethton, Tennessee, and only an hour from Asheville, is the home of many trophy trout. Although there is an abundance of streams in the upper sections at Wilber Dam for wading, most of the trophy trout have to be reached by boat. The sections that have all the trophy trout are strictly enforced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, which require the proper fishing license and trout stamp. The river offers approximately 5,000 to 6,000 trout per mile. The Watauga is so full of trout, you can see why there are many vacationers wanting to catch the fish of a lifetime.

A South Holston brownie)

Sulfur flies do the job

The local hatches on this section of the river have a great number of Caddis, Midges, Sulphurs, and Blue Winged Olives that keep the trout very active almost any time of the year. The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission has regular stocking schedules for the release of certain amounts of trout into each stream according to the stream's holding capacity. This is because trout are a territorial fish and they need a certain amount of space to spawn properly. Stocking the streams occurs generally the first week of each month.

Fly fishing in northeastern Tennessee

Near Bluff City, Tennessee the South Holston river begins, and this Tennessee trout fishing site is a nationally known fish hatchery for rainbow, and brown trout. These areas around the rivers have many creeks and streams which also breed wild trout. The river itself begins from a deep mountain lake where the water is cold all year round. Fly fishing is more than exciting from the time you start casting to the end of the day.

The upper section of the Wilber Dam has its best Tennessee trout fishing during the early spring and in the late fall. There have been fish caught in the upper section of the Dam that have weighed as much as 4 pounds.

leech

With multiple hatches of several different types of insects, the middle section is always a good place to fish. By using a dropper rig you can place your flies below the strike indicator and reel in some great trout.

The trophy section can be fished all year round using nymph and streamer rigs because the water is deeper. Catch and Release laws are in effect for trout between 16 - 22 inches long.

Some of the local guide services supply lunch, snacks, and drinks, and even have full equipment rental or freebies. Some guide services even offer the approved fishing license and stamp.

For dry fly fishing use long leaders (12' would be wise) and tippets from 5x to 7x. You’ll need to be in stealth mode whether wading on or floating down the South Holston.

South Holston at Lake Bristol

The local guide websites can offer such things as; fishing tips for rivers and streams, classes for beginners, reports about the local streams, and information on lodging and dining. Some guided fly fishing trips always practice Catch and Release to ensure that vast amounts of rainbow and brown trout will always be abundant.

With the abundance of trout streams in the surrounding areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can choose from easy fly fishing, or fishing from a native wild trout stream. The backwoods streams may require some hiking to reach.

A stretch of the Watauga river

Whether you decide to wade or float for the trout of your life, your Tennessee trout fishing vacation on East Tennessee’s Watauga and South Holston Rivers will be worth the trip. Be sure to take along your best camera, because people aren’t going to believe the size of the trout you caught.



Here is the HATCH CHART for Eastern Tennessee trout fishing


HATCH CHART

JANUARY

INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Dipterae MidgeAfternoon18 - 24 Gray Midge,
18 - 24 Olive Midge
Blue Winged OliveAfternoon18 - 24 Blue Winged Olive,
18 - 24 Adams
Early Black Stone FlyAll Day18 Black Stone Fly Nymph
18 Black Adult Stone Fly
FEBRUARY-MARCH
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Blue Winged Olive
Baetis
February - March
Early Afternoons - Warm Days
18 Blue Winged Olive,
18 Adams
Early Black StoneFebruary - March
All Day
18 Black Stone Fly Nymph
18 Black Adult Stone Fly
Blue Quill
Paraleptophlebia Adoptiva
Late March
Morning to Early Afternoon
18 Blue Quill Wet & Dry
18 Adams
Quill Gordon
Epeorus Pleuralis
Late March
Early Afternoon
12 - 14 Quill Gordon,
Wet & Dry
APRIL
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Blue Quills
Paraleptophlebia Adoptiva
Early April
Mornings to Early Afternoons
18 Blue Quill Wet & Dry
18 Adams
Quill Gordon
Epeorus Pleuralis
Early April
Early Afternoons
12 - 14 Quill Gordon,
Wet & Dry
Dark Dun/Black CaddisMid-April
Mid-Mornings
14 - 16 Black Soft Hackle
14 - 16 Dark Elk Hair Caddis
MAY
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Mottled Brown/Gray CaddisAll Day16 Brown or Gray Soft Hackle,
16 Brown Elk Hair Caddis
Hendrickson
Ephemerella Subvaria
All Day; Female Spinner
has Yellow Egg Sac
14 Hendrickson,
14 Red Quill,
14 Female Adams
March Brown
Stenonema Vicarium
Mid-May
All Day Sporadically
12 March Brown,
Wet & Dry
Light Cahill
Stenonema Ithaca
Afternoon - Evening16 - 18 Light Cahill
Yellow Midge
Diptera
Early May20 Yellow Midge
Gray Fox
Stenonema Fuscum
Sparse Hatch14 Gray Fox,
14 Ginger Quill,
14 Gray Fox Variant
Sulphurs
Ephemerella Dorothea
Early May
Late Afternoon and Evening
16 - 18 Sulphurs,
16 - 18 Light Cahill
Black CaddisEarly May
All Day
18 Black Soft Hackle,
18 Black Fluttering Caddis
Cream MidgeMid-May
All Day
20 - 22 Cream Midge
Blue Winged Olive
Baetis
Mid-May
Early Afternoon
20 -22 Blue Winged Olive,
20 - 22 Adams
Green Drake
Ephemera Guttulata
Late May
Evening
10 Paradrake,
8 10 White Wulff
Giant Stone Fly
Pteronarcys
Early May
Early Morning
4 - 8 Stone Fly Nymph
JUNE
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Mottled Brown
Gray Caddis
Early June
All Day Sporadically
16 Brown or Gray Soft Hackle
16 Brown Elk Hair Caddis
Light Cahill
Stenonema Ithaca
Sporadically - Late
Afternoon and Evening
16 - 18 Light Cahill
Sulphurs
Ephemerella Dorothea
Late Afternoon and
Evening
16 - 18 Sulphurs
16 - 18 Light Cahill
Isonychia BicolorSporadically - All Day12 Adams
Green and Yellow
Stone Fly
Late Afternoons16 Light Green and Yellow
Fluttering Stone
Giant Stone Fly
Pteronarcys
Early Mornings4 - 6 Stone Fly Nymph
TerrestrialsAll SummerInchworms, Black Ants,
Beetles, and Crickets
JULY
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Isonychia BicolorSporadically - All Day12 Adams
Green and Yellow
Stone Fly
Late Afternoons16 Light Green and Yellow
Fluttering Stone
Golden Stone Fly
Acroneuria
Early Morning and
at Dusk
6 - 8 Stone Fly Nymph
Light Cahill
Stenonema Ithaca
Sporadically - Late
Afternoon and Evening
16 - 18 Light Cahill
TerrestrialsAll SummerInchworms, Black Ants,
Beetles, and Crickets
AUGUST
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Isonychia BicolorSporadically - All Day12 Adams
Golden Stone Fly
Acroneuria
Early Morning and at
Dusk
6 - 8 Stone Fly Nymph
Light Cahill
Stenonema Ithaca
Sporadically - Late
Afternoon and Evening
16 - 18 Light Cahill
Flying AntsAll Day20 -24 Spent-wing Black
and Brown Ants
TerrestrialsAll SummerInchworms, Black Ants,
Beetles, and Crickets
SEPTEMBER
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Light Cahill
Stenonema Ithaca
Usually at Dusk16 - 18 Light Cahill
Isonychia BicolorSporadically -All Day12 Adams
Flying AntsAll Day20 - 24 Spent-wing Black and
Brown Ants
TerrestrialsAll SummerInchworms, Black Ants,
Beetles, and Crickets
OCTOBER-NOVEMBER
INSECTSEMERGENCEPATTERN
Deptera MidgeOctober - November Afternoon18 - 24 Gray Midge
Blue Winged OliveOctober - November Afternoon18 - 24 Blue Winged Olive,
18 - 24 Adams



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