South Holston Lake is rocking for walleye, trout and smallmouth; bass biting on Cherokee

George Thwaites • May 16, 2013 at 11:01 PM

Cherokee Rod & Gun Club is making preparations for its 14th annual Catfish Derby and is getting the word out that youngsters need to be registered early for this year’s event.

The 2013 Derby is slated to be held Saturday, June 8 at the club’s Reservoir Road facility. The event is free of charge but will be limited to the first 100 kids (ages 4 to 12) to register. The deadline to register is May 31.

Following the derby (and lunch) additional activities will be conducted in the afternoon by the Bays Mountain Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the club’s Youth Civilian Marksmanship Program.

To register a participant, contact Larry Gilliam at (423) 239-3810 or Dennis Gilliam at (423) 239-4819. Organizers can also be reached via e-mail at: dlarrygilliam@chartertn.net.

Turning our attention to the area fishing scene, South Holston Reservoir has been the site of the best all-around angling action.

“A lot of folks are catching walleye at night on the usual stuff — the Long A Bomber, Spoonbill Rebels, Thundersticks,” said John Slagle at Lake View Dock.

“The trout folks are doing really good, both trolling during the day and fishing under the lights at night,” he said.

With water surface temperatures still averaging around 64 degrees, people haven’t had to go too deep to get into good trout. Rainbows have been showing up at 15 to 25 feet. Lake trout have been cruising at 30 to 35 feet.

Trolling spoons and Super Dupers have been the top lures for trolling anglers. Berkley Power Bait, nightcrawlers and minnows have been sweetening hooks for the night anglers.

While water temperatures are at least 10 degrees colder than normal for this time of year, smallmouth — many of which are moving off the beds on this lake — thrive in this range. The bite is solid.

“The hot lake is South Holston,” said Chopper Ingram at Watson’s Marine in Bluff City. “They’ve been catching good fish on a finesse worm, on a small swimbait and swimming a grub.”

Boone, however, hasn’t been doing so well. In addition to getting a lot of extra cold water influx from the Watauga arm, an algae bloom has had an off-putting effect on the bass bite there. A finesse worm rig has been about the best thing going there. And that hasn’t been great.

Downstream in Cherokee Reservoir, it’s another story altogether.

Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton said most of his regular customers are headed that way. So many different baits and tactics are in full swing that an angler can pretty much play favorites.

“A guy came in today and bought every bag of Salty Craws we had,” said Colyer. “Everybody is excited. Now that the lake is stable and full, all kinds of things are happening. The flippin’ bite is good. The Carolina rig bite is good. They’re starting to hit topwater in the grass, spinnerbaits in the grass.”

On the fly fishing beat Rob Denton at Mahoney’s Sportsmans Paradise in Johnson City reports that the Watauga tailwater is still blown out. The South Holston tailwater, however, is still fishing nicely.

“We’ve got a lot of bugs coming off. Little midges and stuff like that. And sulphur hatches have been good,” Denton said.

Sulphur dries with a little sprig of UV amplifying material woven in have been very popular, particularly the Sparkle Comparadun, Size 16. Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails and assorted Zebra Midges are standard subsurface fare. Streamers, including the ubiquitous Wooly Bugger, still have their place.

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