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The 'Pumpkin Month' usually marks the start of great fall fishing in Northeast Tennessee

October 18th, 2013 4:18 pm by George Thwaites

The 'Pumpkin Month'  usually marks the start of great fall fishing in Northeast Tennessee

Years ago, I remember fishing with the Mike Gardner on Boone Lake under the darkening violet sky of an October evening. The air was cool but comfortable. He was showing me how to use the good old root beer pig-and-jig.

He said he could always count on the Pumpkin Month for some of his most enjoyable outings. The week leading up to Halloween, he said, was usually a great week.

We’re a good two weeks away from candy corn and sugar skulls, but the night bass bite seems to be rocking on most area reservoirs.

“My next-door neighbor on Cherokee caught 42 the other night. The only thing he ever throws is spinnerbaits, so it had to have been a spinnerbait,” said Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton.

“The topwater bite has been good until around 10 p.m.”

Colyer said the bass reports from both Cherokee and Boone have been encouraging.

His shop is buzzing with traffic tied to deer hunting. The NRA will set up a booth in the Colgard parking lot Saturday for day-long activities geared toward all the hunters and shooters who are getting their preseason shopping done.

Colyer looks forward to deer season also, but not because he plans to be in a tree stand.

“I realize that many hardcore fishermen are also hunters. But when hunting season kicks in, that’s when I really start fishing,” Colyer said. “You have all that water to yourself and the bite is good. November is hard to beat. November, March and April are my favorite months to fish.”

December and January aren’t bad either, he added, noting that he bought new cold weather fishing gear three years ago because of it. If you came from up north, you’d never think our winters were too cold to fish, he said.

Local angling author Keith Bartlett is “kind of camping on it” in preparation for a fall surge in striper and walleye action.

“I spent most of the other night on South Holston Lake looking for walleyes. We went way up into the creeks and found lots of baitfish, but no walleye,” Bartlett said.

“We found some fish on a hump out on the main lake, but after catching a couple we realized they were all smallmouth. That was a little aggravating.”

On Boone Lake, Bartlett finds the same situation in place for stripers. The bait are moving up, but the water is still a little too warm.

“Water temperature was around 70 degrees. It needs to drop into the 60s,” Bartlett said.

“We may be on the verge of it. This cold front coming in this weekend might do something for us.”

Colyer noted the same situation for striped bass on Cherokee Lake. Despite the abundance of bait, an active striper and hybrid bite seems to have slowed down quite a bit on that lake, he said.

This week, there were reports of good crappie fishing below Caney Creek and up Cloud Creek on Cherokee. Many anglers have transitioned from trolling to fishing live minnows on flies under a bobber.

On the fly fishing beat, Mike Adams of Mahoney’s Sportsman’s Paradise in Johnson City reports that the trout fishing has been excellent on the South Holston tail water.

“On low water, look for some Blue Winged Olives in the small sizes. Also try a dry and dropper rig with various colored Zebra Midges and little, small Pheasant Tails,” Adams said.

“On high water, if a person wants to throw streamers, large streamers have been quite productive.”

So have tandem nymph rigs. A Size 16 or 18 Frenchie or Pheasant Tail up front with Zebra Midge droppers in brown, purple or olive (with maybe a little flash on it, also).

The Watauga has been running a lot of high water, he said, and similar advice would apply. For that river, he’d prefer a Soft Hackle Bead Head Pheasant Tail with a standard Pheasant Tail, Size 16 or 14, on the dropper.

“Fish are starting to notice the egg patterns,” Adams said. “On low water I’ve fished them with a little Frenchie under it.”

On high water, olive streamers and brown streamers on sinking-tip fly line have also enticed some nice fish.


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