Memorial Day Weekend is usually a big deal for most boat docks and marinas. For John Slagle at Lake View Dock on South Holston Lake, this weekend is a bigger deal.
Lake View Dock is putting up $1,500 worth of prize money for its annual Trout Tournament, which officially begins at 8 p.m. on Friday with a 7 a.m. weigh-in Saturday morning.
Entry fee is $15 per person. For more information, call (423) 878-4331.
“Most people will be fishing all night under the lights, but we do have some who’ll troll for an hour right after it starts and the next morning troll another hour before the weigh-in,” said Slagle, who expects to see some big fish caught.
“They’ve been catching rainbows at night from 12 to 18 feet deep. Lake trout have been caught trolling during the day from 25 to 35 feet.”
The trout fishing has been terrific this spring, something Slagle attributes in part to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s recent stocking effort.
“Virginia was stocking the trout last year (because of the reciprocal agreement). Tennessee stocked this year and you can tell the difference,” Slagle said.
Tentative word is that in the future, Tennessee will concentrate on stocking trout in South Holston Lake while Virginia will concentrate on stocking the lake with walleye.
An update: Slagle’s son, Joe, and Tennessee Tech teammate Cliff Dye finished second in last week’s Cabela’s/Boat U.S. Collegiate Bass Fishing National Championship with 44.27 pounds. Bethel’s Zack Parker and Matthew Roberts won with 43.85 pounds.
Because Joe Slagle’s boat was the highest qualifying Ranger in the tourney, he won a trip to fish with the pros next October in the Forrest Wood Qualifier on Fork Lake, Texas.
Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton anticipates the bass fishing on Cherokee Lake to improve significantly over what he encountered last week.
“It doesn’t take but four or five days of nice weather to get them active,” said Colyer, who also believes the fish will be better-recuperated from the spawn.
Last week, the best fish he caught were flipping the bushes and Carolina-rigging. The water is so high and there are still so many green bushes a couple of feet under the water that he’d probably stick to flipping.
“For me, Brush Hogs are a great bait for flipping. Particularly when there are so many bushes in the water,” he said. “You need to have good sunglasses to be able to spot those fish.”
Anglers have also been flipping the brush and throwing Carolina rigs on Douglas Lake, he said. Another sign that summer may be setting in: Anglers are long-lining deep crank- baits like the Strike King 6XD and 10XD. That’s the tactic where the angler casts as far as possible, then continues to play out line as the boat backs away from the lure. What you get is an extra-long, extra-deep retrieve.
Rex Pendergrass at Watsons Marine in Bluff City said most of his customers have been excited about the bass bite on Douglas, which has been good both deep and shallow. South Holston has also been encouraging, in spite of the high water. Boone is clearing up in the river arms, but the bass fishing there remains slow, he said.
“There was a tournament (on Boone) Sunday that took over 15 pounds to win. That was decent, but for the most part it’s been tough,” Pendergrass said.
“The topwater bite with the Pop-R and Spook has been hit or miss. A lot of guys had fish blowing up on topwater but couldn’t hook any.”
The most interesting news around his shop has been the walleye bite on Watauga Lake, which has been strong despite the very high water levels there.
The fishing frenzy has made a dent in the local supply of Spoonbill Rebels — the favored plug for casting the banks at night. A recent revelation for Pendergrass are Bandits walleye plugs, a bait similar to the Spoonbill. A couple of years ago nobody was interested. Now they’re flying off the shelves, indicating that local walleye anglers have found a use for them.
George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Times-News. Want to show off the one that didn’t get away? Email trophy fish photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.