A week since the region’s last big winter weather event, the bass fishing showed signs of picking up on several area reservoirs.
This week’s bad news is the arrival of another round of winter weather.
The good news: it may not hurt the fishing much worse.
Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine in Bluff City said he most recently heard a good report from Douglas, which jumped up 30 feet last week.
The outlook is by no means uniform. Boone, which had a decent bite before the snow and rain hit, got clobbered. With South Holston and Watauga/Wilbur Dams running 24/7 to address lake levels upstream, Boone has an awful lot of water moving through it right now.
There has been no good word from Watauga, where water levels remain unseasonably high, Pendergrass said. On South Holston, however, the deep bite on the Damiki Shad has carried over nicely.
Whatever cold precipitation and subsequent melt-off we receive, Pendergrass suspects it won’t ruin the Damiki bite where that trend has been re-established.
“Rising water doesn’t affect deep fish as much as it does shallow fish. And the deep fish won’t feel the temperature changes that much. It’s already pretty cold down there,” he said.
Jigging spoons, Silver Buddy and other blade baits, duck feather flies and GULP! minnows still have their place in winter tackle boxes.
But fishing the Damiki shad vertically with the visual assistance of sonar is by far the most popular cold weather method among local anglers.
By the way, Jonathan Van Dam, nephew of Kevin Van Dam, will join David Fritts, Jay Yelas and Guy Eaker as a guest speaker during the 2013 Open House to be held by Watson’s Marine Jan. 29, Feb. 1 and 2.
Plenty of boat and tackle reps will also be on hand.
On the fly fishing beat, the TVA’s wide-open generating schedules on most area dams have kept tailwater anglers out of the water.
“Wading is out of the question. But if you’ve got a boat, you can float either the South Holston or the Watauga,” said Clint Lensgraf at Mahoney’s Sportsman’s Paradise in Johnson City. “Most people I know are fishing olive and black streamers.”
Jon Faris at Eastern Fly Outfitters in Johnson City reports that either sinking tip or full-sinking fly lines are in order when floating the tailwaters during these heavy generation periods.
River flows in general have been higher than average, both trout and smallmouth rivers.
“Patrick Henry is running wide open and at one point Boone ran like 10,000 c.f.s. That’s the most I’ve ever seen them run,” said Faris, who noted that the North Fork of the Holston was also exceptionally high.
“This is the time of year that when the water is high, you might be better off staying at home and tying some flies. You need to get those boxes filled for spring,” he said.
George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Kingsport Times-News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.