We don't fish for these in Northeast Tennessee. For news and tips on what we do fish for, read the Fishing Report in the Kingsport Times-News.
The earth is far enough along in its annual orbit for sunlight to be striking North America at a steeper angle than it did a few short months ago.
The frost may set things off. But the light is a reminder.
Fish have eyes and central nervous systems and are aware of this at an instinctive level. It is one more sign of approaching winter that will eventually trigger a fall feeding frenzy on area reservoirs.
Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine has heard reports that baitfish are schooling up on South Holston Reservoir. The topwater bass bite has been pretty decent on that lake.
As for the fish that hang deep for most of the year, the Damiki Armor Shad bite is starting to come into play again.
“It’s a subtle techniqe that allows you to put a bait in front of them and get them to bite when they normally wouldn’t,” said Pendergrass.
“It’s hard to do it during the summer because there is so much boat traffic and turbulence that you can’t read your electronics as well. You really need to be sitting fairly still.”
There has been some Zara Spook and buzzbait action on Watauga Lake, but the nighttime spinnerbait and jig bites are still outpacing the day production.
Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton reports the outlines of a fall pattern beginning to take shape on Cherokee Lake.
“People are still catching a lot of fish up in the river on topwater. But baitfish are balling up and fish are starting to follow the bait down the lake,” said Colyer.
Most people are starting to get into these fish with spinnerbaits and swimbaits. One of the baits Colyer likes to throw for them is the Berry’s Flex-It spoon.
“That little spoon has been doing good on Cherokee and Douglas both,” Colyer said. “I like to cast it out and pump it off the bottom with big jerks. They always hit it on the fall.”
He noted that striper anglers on Cherokee are trolling umbrella rigs during the daytime. When the fish come up to break on shad, however, they keep a rod handy with an Alabama rig tied on.
Variation of theme: Colyer reported that his shop has sold out of the new Z-Man Quadzilla 4-armed spinnerbait. It’s kind of like the Alabama rig, but probably more castable on average tackle.
On the fly fishing beat, Ben Walters at Eastern Fly Outfitters in Johnson City reported that Size 18 sulphur nymphs were fishing nicely on the South Holston tailwater.
Striped bass are still in Bluff City between the old railroad bridge and the Bluff City Bridge, he said. A large white and grey streamer is the best bet for getting into one of these reel-burners.
Over at Mahoney’s Sportsman’s Paradise in Johnson City, Todd Boyer reported that the generating schedule for the Watauga tailwater has seemed unpredictable lately. But the fishing has been decent.
“We’re doing the same old thing: Zebra midges in blacks, olives and browns. We’re also going with a Size 20 Blue Winged Olive,” Boyer said. “You can also try a few streamers, and that’s about it.”
He hasn’t had much luck fishing for smallmouth lately.
“The nights are getting cooler and the water temperatures are getting cooler. They find themselves a deep hole and kind of settle down,” he said.