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Month of March means it's time to renew Tenn. licenses

Staff Report • Mar 12, 2007 at 3:33 AM

The first order of business: the time has come for everyone in Tennessee to renew fishing licenses.

In Virginia, annual fishing licenses are good a year from the date purchased, regardless of when purchased. In Tennessee the angler's year begins March 1.

Once you've bought a license, the big question is what you'll be doing with it this week. Wacky winter weather is back.

"The new March weather may send the lake fishermen back inside their houses," said Johnny Wood of WCYB-TV5 in Bristol. "Lots and lots of folks were out last weekend. They had several tournaments on Douglas and they found bass on Silver Buddies off points."

This week, we don't quite know what to expect.

"It's been kind of slow on Cherokee Lake," reported Terry Miller at M&M Sporting Goods and Polaris on Stone Drive in Kingsport.

"The crankbait up in the river and a jig has been pretty good. Silver buddy hasn't been bad. But nothing has been great."

Kenny Harville at Kenny's Bait & Tackle on Highway 75 near Boone Dam reports the surface temperatures on Boone Lake are still in the mid-40s. Bass action has been slow but there have been some caught on blade baits, spoons and float-and-fly in 12-15 feet of water off points and bluffs.

"I haven't heard much about crappie, but I'm sure they're catching some now that the water is back in the brush," Harville said. "Stripers are sparse. Some are being caught on live bait from Sportsman's Dock down to Caney Creek."

Four-inch baits are about as big as you want to go for striper right now, according to Harville.

John Slagle at Lake View Dock in Bristol reports the surface temperatures on that lake at 46.7 degrees - conditions still suitable for duck feather flies, blade baits and Hopkins spoons if bass are what you're after.

"It came up about a degree after only a week, so if we could get four or five warm days it would help us," Slagle said. "But you don't know what the weather is going to do. A warm rain helps. A cold rain hurts. You could get snow for a couple days, then have it warm up - then you'd have cold snow melt affecting things."

The lake is now officially open for trout fishing, although Slagle has seen nobody getting after them yet, but he said the mere fact that it's open will bring out some folks.

Thomas White at Fish Springs Dock in Hampton reports surface temperatures on Watauga lake have been averaging 43 degrees.

Bass anglers haven't been out much lately, he said. But there have been bank anglers fishing for recently-stocked trout.

"At Rat Branch there's always three or four people fishing. And they're at Little Stoney Creek and Little Milligan ramp," White said. "People can use salmon eggs, but a lot of folks use spinners like the Little Cleo, Roostertail and Panther Martin."

Dark-colored bodies with gold blades tend to work best, he said.

James Arwood at Ricker's Bait and Tackle in Rogersville reports that the paddlefish (aka shovel-billed catfish) season opened Thursday in the Holston River below the John Sevier Steam Plant Dam.

"It's been really hopping. Our biggest today was 53 pounds. I know of eight to 10," Arwood said. "Most people either catch them to eat them or just catch them for fun. There was a whole lot of catch and release."

On the fly fishing beat, Eddie Wyatt at Fly Shop of Tennessee in Johnson City reports that Blue-Winged Olives, midges and blackflies are the staples on the South Holston trout tailwater.

"The blackflies are more up high than down low. A lot of little old midges. That place has turned into a midge river this time of the year," said Wyatt. "You wouldn't fish a midge if you saw a Blue-Wing hatch. But if you don't see a hatch, you need to fish those Size 22, 24 and even smaller midges."

Brad Barnes at Mahoneys Sportsman's Paradise in Johnson City reports a similar situation on the Watauga tailwater. There are some decent BWO hatches and the midges have been abundant in the evenings.

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