Water Hazard: fishing is good, but high water has put a lot of floating trash in local lakes

George Thwaites • Jul 11, 2013 at 9:50 PM

If you’re out boating on area TVA reservoirs, pay close attention. There are some navigational hazards out there.

For the second week in a row, we’ve gotten word of very large logs floating low in the water on Cherokee. Some were spotted as recently as Wednesday, floating along with the current.

This is not normal for Cherokee, particularly at this time of the year. Unusually high lake levels have obviously dislodged a lot of loose stuff that has had a decade or more to accumulate.

Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine in Bluff City reports that boaters are encountering lots of floating debris on Boone Lake as well, particularly up the Watauga arm of the lake.

“Evidently, the Watauga side is just covered with trash,” said Pendergrass. “Every time we get one of those rains and the rivers get up, here it comes. All our lakes jumped back up with the last go-round and put a lot of stuff back into the water.”

Even with the crazy weather, he said, the bass fishing has been worthwhile. This is true both for Boone and neighboring South Holston Reservoir.

On Boone, some fish have moved into the shallows, where they’re being caught on topwater baits and plastic worms.

On South Holston, the plastic worm bite on Texas-rigged worms has really been good, he said. The big 10-inch worms — both Zoom and Berkley — have been best. Darker colors have been the thing, from green pumpkin to black/blue fleck. Spinnerbaits in black/blue and black/chartreuse have been staple after dark bass lures.

Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton reports that Zoom Trick Worms and Swamp Crawlers on a Shaky Head Jig are catching good numbers of bass on Cherokee. But that’s only part of the story.

“The better fish are coming on the pig-and-jig and spinnerbait,” Colyer said. “The crankbait bite is pretty much over with. The buzzbait bite has been good the first two hours of the morning. Then it stops dead.”

There are still some reports of hybrids up in the river, but a lot of big striper have migrated toward the aerators near the dam. Fishing for stripers below Point 3 will go off-limits on Monday and remain closed to striper fishing until Sept. 15.

In news relating to the Holston River, there will be a meeting between TVA officials and local officials at the John Sevier Steam Plant campground and fishing area near Rogersville on Monday at 2 p.m.

The TVA is proposing to install fencing and close the campground and fishing access areas near the recently-close John Sevier coal-fired plant due to lack of security personnel available to ensure the safety of the public. According to Hawkins County Mayor Melville Bailey, any interested members of the public can attend.

On the fly fishing beat, Todd Boyer at Mahoney’s Sportman’s Paradise in Johnson City reports fishing on the Watauga tailwater isn’t happening. But things are really going on below the weir dam on South Holston.

“There have been a whole bunch of sulphurs on high water on the South Holston,” Boyer said. “Once you get down below some of the feeder streams you might get a little mud. But it has been fishing great up high on the river.”

The CDC Sparkle Dun has been the most popular sulphur dry fly pattern lately. Boyer would fish it with a dropper — he’d prefer a Pheasant Tail or a Split-Case, although some folks still like the Zebra Midges.

Over on the Watauga, what’s messing up Boone Lake is messing up the river: high and muddy. Smallmouth fishing has also been put on hiatus. The Nolichucky is unfishable and, for the most part, Chemical Alley in Kingsport has been a no-go.

George Thwaites is a Sports and Outdoors Writer for the Kingsport Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KTNSptsThwaites. E-mail trophy fish photos to: gthwaites@timesnews.net

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