Fishing this week probably isn't that much better than it was last week. But it's sure been a lot more pleasant to be fishing.
"The winter weather is finally letting up some and more fishermen are venturing away from their stoves and fireplaces," said Johnny Wood at WCYB-TV5 in Bristol.
Air temperatures have moved up but the water temperatures remain down in the low 40s, Wood said, a trend that helps the float and fly action for bass on South Holston, Watauga and Boone lakes.
Terry Miller at M&M Sporting Goods and Polaris in Kingsport confirmed that the duck feather fly with a sprig of chartreuse is the most consistent bass lure on Cherokee Lake. There's no huge penalty for using the float, although tight-lining holds the competitive edge. Silver Buddies also are picking up a few bass.
James Arwood at Ricker's Bait & Tackle in Rogersville reports a variety of different species turning on in the Holston River below the John Sevier Steam Plant Dam in Rogersville.
"I'm seeing some walleye showing up. I'm seeing some crappie showing up," Arwood said. "Bluegill turned on today and a few smallmouth were caught up at the steam plant.
"A few rockfish in the high teens have been caught by people throwing cut bait ... mostly bluegill heads and some shad ... between Cloud's and Caney Creek."
A few bold anglers with extremely shallow-draft boats have picked up a few stripers trolling Rapalas below the steam plant later in the evening. But that area is too shallow to suit competitive striper angler Tim Adrien.
Adrien has spent most of his recent fishing time throwing jerkbaits for trout on the South Holston and Watauga rivers. But he's paid attention to the grapevine. He's heard good reports from striper anglers fishing below the steam plants in the Knoxville area. Closer to home, Cherokee is probably outfishing Boone.
"It's kind of slow but you can catch fish. I'd just follow the birds," Adrien said. "Umbrella rigs and bucktails would be a good thing. I've been hearing the spoon has been doing a little better than the bucktail."
On the fly fishing beat, Eddie Wyatt at Fly Shop of Tennessee in Johnson City reminds anglers that when it gets cold enough for water to freeze in the guides, you can risk breaking a rod tip.
"We've seen several rods broken during the colder days," Wyatt said. "But as long as we're in the 40s and the wind chill isn't awesome, we're all right. Fish are already wet and cold. If you can stand it, they can."
Brad Barnes at Mahoney's Sportsman's Paradise reported that the fishing has picked up on the Watauga tailwater. Dry and dropper rigs have been working well and there have been some nice afternoon Blue Winged Olive hatches.
Barnes noted that while the brown trout spawn is history, rainbows are evidently going at it on the Watauga. This means that dropper rigs with egg patterns will still get you into fish.
"They're hard to find, and only grouped in a few spots," Barnes said. "But there are some 25-inch rainbows out there waiting to be caught."
George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Times-News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.