Four-year-old Wyatt Greene caught this 24-inch brown trout in the South Holston River. The kid is a prodigy.
Thanks to the South Holston and Watauga tailwater rivers, Boone Lake receives a double dose of cool water that can be counted on to stimulate some kind of fishing even in the dog days of summer.
Not that the dog days have been all that doggy. Ambient temperatures slipped into the 60s before August even got under way.
Now they seem to be bumping back up again. Rex Pendergrass at Watsons Marine in Bluff City believes average water temperatures in area reservoirs are basically unchanged.
“It did get cool for several nights, but it takes a lot of that to affect the water,” Pendergrass said. “Most of the bass (on Boone) are still in a summer pattern, hanging out at 15 to 20 feet deep.”
That means the classic jig bite is on. Also, spinnerbaits and deep-diving crankbaits — the Strike King 6XD being Pendergrass’ first choice.
Day fishing hasn’t been bad, he said, and it has been particularly good on Watauga. A lot of spots are being caught on drop shot rigs, as well as Zara Spooks and Pop-Rs on top.
A bonus for hard-tackle anglers out of Boone Lake has been the fishing in the river upstream from Bluff City. Striper and hybrid are a usual attraction at this time of the year. But big trout are also being caught on jerkbaits. the Lucky Strike RC Stick and the Lucky Craft 82 Slender Pointer have been the hot plugs.
How hot? Four-year-old Wyatt Greene caught a 24-inch brown trout in the river on Monday. He was standing on the bank, casting it and twitching it.
The kid is a prodigy.
Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton reports that the North Fork of the Holston River has cleaned up. The smallmouth bass are active.
“Our guys were throwing black red-flake finesse worms. They were just floating them with no weight,” Colyer said. “Most of the time they were rigging them wacky-style and just letting the current take them.”
On Cherokee, the spinnerbait bite seems to have slowed down for some anglers. In the meantime, big Texas-rigged plastic worms are producing. The 10XD crankbait has accounted for a few fish during the daytime.
On Douglas, some good bass have been caught in deep water — we’re talking the 30 feet or so — on big, one-ounce football or mop-head jigs. There has also been a solid jig bite on Fort Patrick Henry Lake.
As an aside, Colyer usually clips the weedguards off of his jigs unless he intends to use them to strictly fish wood, bushes or brush.
“If you know how to fish a jig, you shouldn’t get hung up that often. I’ve never been a big fan of the weedguards,” he said.
On the fly fishing beat, Todd Boyer at Mahoney’s Sportsmans’ Paradise in Johnson City reports that the fly fishing carries on despite the wacky weather we’ve been having.
“There is still a decent high water sulphur hatch. But since they’ve been laying off of the generating, the first hour and a half is just didymo,” he said with a chuckle.
Lately the TVA has been good about leaving the generators off in the morning and not turning them on until the afternoon. That gives wade fishermen some access to the river, Boyer said.
The weather being cooler and wetter than usual hasn’t changed the importance of midsummer terrestrial patterns on the tailwaters. If anything, Boyer has seen even more June bugs than usual.
Beetle patterns can not only be fished to the banks, they can also be cast successfully to rising trout. Terrestrials are particularly effective during times of low water, he said.
The region’s mountain trout streams are in excellent shape. Water levels might hold up into the fall. They might not. If the tailwaters are crowded on the weekends, it might be a good time to head for the mountains.
Boyer recommends the basics for the mountain streams: Stimulators. Prince Nymphs. Tellicos. And don’t forget little green inchworm patterns — which are also a effective terrestrial patterns on the tailwaters.
George Thwaites is a Sports and Outdoors Writer for the Kingsport Times-News. Email trophy fish photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org.