Spring fishing isn't here yet

George Thwaites • Feb 22, 2007 at 10:48 AM

The weather has been downright wacky. We've gone from snow boots to shirtsleeves with amazing rapidity.

The fishing hasn't turned on overnight with the sudden springtime. But some interesting things are happening in the Holston River.

Smallmouth bass action has been turning on near the convergence of the North and South forks of the Holston River in Kingsport. One fly fisherman reportedly caught a bronzeback in the 5-pound range casting a large Zonker streamer behind Riverfront Seafood.

Below the forks of the rivers, spin anglers are catching nice smallmouth on a variety of hard jerkbaits, as well as tube jigs, grubs and live bait.

Further downstream, James Arwood at Ricker's Bait & Tackle in Rogersville reports a solid multi-species bite in the Holston River below the John Sevier Steam Plant Dam.

Most of the action is at Clouds Creek and Caney Creek, where a mixed-creel of crappie, hybrids, small rockfish and largemouth bass are being taken on a variety of jigs, grubs, plugs and live bait.

Things seem to bode well for the paddlefish season, which is slated for Mar. 1-15.

"I know of at least two paddlefish that were accidentally snagged. They just weighed them and flopped them back. One was around 50 pounds and the other was around 40," Arwood said.

Some nice walleye in the 2- to 6-pound range have been caught from Melinda's Ferry Bridge to Robinson Creek. White bass (stripe) don't seem to be on the move in any significant numbers yet. Some buffalo carp are being caught in the vicinity of the fish traps below Hugh B. Day Bridge.

But what's been good in the river hasn't necessarily been good in the lakes. Terry Miller at M&M Sporting Goods in Kingsport reports that the bass action has been quite slow on Cherokee Lake.

"There has been some float-and-fly and Silver Buddy action, and a little bit of a crankbait bite up toward the river," Miller said. "I think these warm days are going to help."

Warmer weather will surely encourage fishermen if it holds out. But will it encourage the fishing?

"This warm weather will have a lot of folks out bass fishing this weekend. They are going to find bass fishing is still really tough. Water temperatures are still down in the 30s and with thin ice still back in the coves and creek mouths," said Johnny Wood at WCYB-TV5 in Bristol.

"Bass have been hard to find and hard to pattern in the upper lakes, South Holston, Watauga and Boone. Try the deep points with a Silver Buddy or Jigging Spoon You might be able to tight line a small jig, but you'll need to add a split shot or two to get them down deep," Wood added.

"Use your electronics to find the bait schools and you might find a bass or two."

On the fly fishing beat, whether it's worth it or not probably depends on how soon the wind dies down.

Eddie Horne at Fly Shop of Tennessee reports that the rainbow spawn on the South Holston River should be mostly finished by now.

"You can always catch big fish on streamers, because big fish eat big food," said Horne, who noted that a shift in insect hatches might be imminent.

"So far the fishing is good with Size 18-20 Blue-Winged Olives and Size 20-28 midges are abundant. If the warm weather holds, we could start seeing some sulphur hatches."

Horne wouldn't expect to see any sulphurs except on the warmest, sunniest days and even then, only later in the evening.

"Generally, we don't start seeing them until March. But this has been such a weird weather year, it's hard to know what's next," he said.

Brad Barnes at Mahoney's Sportsman's Paradise in Johnson City reports that things haven't been gangbusters on the Watauga tailwater, but the action hasn't been at a total standstill.

"I don't know what the fish think of this warm weather. We've got some Blue-Wings coming off and some nice rainbows have been caught on the the trophy section," Barnes said.

"After this week, temperatures in the mountain streams should be moving back up. They ought to be fishing pretty good."

George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Times-News. E-mail him at gthwaites@timesnews.net. For more information on fishing in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina, be sure to catch Johnny Wood's Fishing Report on WCYB-TV5 Thursday mornings at 5:45 a.m., 6:15 a.m. and 6:45 a.m.

Recommended for You

    Kingsport Times News Videos