Kingsport Times-News: It’s officially fall (but somebody needs to tell the fish)
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It’s officially fall (but somebody needs to tell the fish)

George Thwaites • Updated Sep 24, 2015 at 11:44 PM

As far as the calendar is concerned, it’s officially autumn.

As far as the fish are concerned, it isn’t quite here yet.

While there are signs of the bite perking up in places, for the most part area bass reservoirs are still caught in the summer doldrums.

“The night bite on South Holston (Lake) has picked up quite a bit on jigs and spinnerbaits. But I haven’t heard a report at all from Boone this week,” said Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine in Bluff City.

The bass in Watson’s new 1,000-gallon aquarium are “eating like wolves,” said Pendergrass, who hopes what he’s seeing is a microcosm of what we can expect to see all over Northeast Tennessee reservoirs within the next couple of weeks.

For now, things are slow to middling on the Upper Holston reservoirs. The Testers won Watson’s tournament on Watauga two weekends ago with a big bag of fish, he said, but everyone else struggled. It took only 7 pounds to win this past Friday’s rodeo on Watauga.

“We’re just waiting for things to cool down a little bit,” Pendergrass said.

Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton reports a decent jig and crankbait bass bite on Cherokee Lake, but all of the action is up in the river. The lower end is slow.

“We’re starting to see a few breaking fish. If you get to the right spot early enough, you’ll catch some on a Zara Spook,” he said.

There has been a noteworthy walleye bite on Cherokee on the upper end of the lake using white Flex Spoons; just “casting and pumping them back,” he said.

Colyer said he usually hears from striper anglers who are among the first to fish Cherokee’s off-limits areas near the dam once they reopen. Some of the first to exploit that water troll up some nice stripers using downriggers. It’s been a week, but so far, he hasn’t heard a peep out of those guys.

Over on Douglas Reservoir, brush hogs were the productive bass bait last weekend. The fishing wasn’t bad there at all.

On the fly fishing beat, Mitch Kincaid at Mahoney’s Sportsmans Paradise in Johnson City has returned from summer guiding up in Colorado. He appreciates the extra oxygen we enjoy in Tennessee but could do without the heat and humidity.

He’ll adjust.

“On the South Holston tailwater we’re still seeing a few sporadic sulphurs hanging around ... a little smaller, like Size 18,” Kincaid said.

There is also a healthy Blue Winged Olive hatch, which can be fished up top with Comparaduns. Most anglers are getting it done subsurface with small Split Case and Pheasant Tail nymphs.

Midges are always getting sipped, so it’s always good to have some Morgan’s Midge (dry) and an assortment of Zebra Midges (nymph) in black, orange, purple or olive.

The Watauga tailwater has been even more of a midging proposition, with the Morgan’s and Zebra midges at the top of the list. But lately there has also been a smallish caddis hatch to get into. You can match it with a Size 18 or Size 20 White Elk Hair Caddis. A Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Size 16 to 18, has been a strong subsurface fly to throw.

“If you can find where the stripers are on Boone Lake, they’ve been eating good on shad-pattern streamers,” Kincaid said. “But I couldn’t tell you where to find them right now.”

George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Kingsport Times-News. He is on Twitter as @KTNSptsThwaites. Email your fishing photos to [email protected]

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