Cooler night temperatures are a welcome occurrence to the most avid of the region’s fishermen.
It means autumn is on its way. Water levels on area reservoirs are moving down. Pleasure boat and jet ski traffic is thinning. Bait fish are moving up. So is what feeds on them.
And as greater numbers of anglers turn their attention away from bass boats and toward tree stands, the overall fishing pressure declines.
“Fishing Heaven is on its way,” said area angling author Keith Bartlett. “It’s really going to be the best time of the year to go bass fishing.”
He’s already enjoying decent striper and hybrid fishing on Boone Lake. He and a fishing buddy got into some nice fish using Alabama rigs.
“We tried using different-sized swimbaits. The first night, I threw rigs with larger swimbaits. The other guy threw smaller ones — and caught all the fish,” said Bartlett who switched to smaller baits the next night and was rewarded accordingly.
He noted that in the area they were fishing, a few throws of the cast net revealed baitfish in the to 4-inch range. Some were kept for free lining, he said, but the stripers were active in such shallow water that casting the Alabama rigs proved more effective.
There was a little bit of topwater action, he said.
“I had one mule blow up on my plug that looked like a Volkswagen , but most of the fish we caught were on the A-rigs,”
Bartlett also had a couple of nice river smallmouth trips on the Holstson River from Chemical Alley on downstream. Crankbaits and swimbaits were both working nicely.
Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton reports that his regular customers have had excellent float trips for smallmouth bass on the Clinch River.
“I know several people who have gone and done well on the little SR-5 Shad Raps. A lot of fish have been hitting on top before peole can even start retrieving it,” Colyer said.
On Cherokee, the smaller 3-inch swimbaits have been also been effective, both fished singly or on an Alabama rig. Shad colored crankbaits are also holding up, along with some early and late topwater action.
“The last time I went down I saw several schools of shad up top,” Colyer said. “It looks like they’re already starting to get into their fall patterns.”
Austin Wilson at Lake View Dock on South Holston Lake reports that trout fishermen continue to troll for rainbows and lakers during the day. There has been no particularly striking news one way or another.
On the fly fishing beat, Clint Lensgraf at Mahoney’s Sportsmans Paradise reports that Wilbur Dam is spilling water into the Watauga tailwater river.
It’s still fishable. But you need to keep an eye on things.
“They’ve been letting out a few hundred c.f.s. fairly consistently, but you definitely need to keep an eye on it. The water can suddenly jump up to 1,000 or so,” Lensgraf said.
“You just need to pay attention. If it’s only running around 200 or so, that’s perfectly fine for wading.”
A lot of smallish fly patterns in the Size 18 to 20 range have been staples on the Watauga. For baetis mayflies, the CDC Comparadun Blue Winged Olive is a great choice for a dry. For nymphs, small Pheasant Tails and Zebra Midges in Rusty Brown or Olive.
The insect patterns have been similar on the South Holston tailwater, he said. But there are signs that the brown trout there may be feeding up for the coming spawn.
“I fished there last week and the streamer bite was really good,” Lensgraf said. “A white articulated streamer was good for most of the day. As it got a little bit darker I switched to an olive one and it was working well.”
He’s also heard good reports of the smallmouth fishing on the Holston river. He hasn’t been there personally this week, but he thinks the Nolichucky is also worth looking into.