The frost is on the pumpkin. Get ready to go fishing.
“Oh yeah. Water temperatures on Cherokee are dropping to the mid-60s, which is excellent,” said Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton.
The Zara Spook has been an outstanding topwater bait. Shallow-running crankbaits have also been killer on bass breaking in schools of surfacing shad. Swimbaits, both singles and Alabama rigs, are getting strikes.
The Z-Man Quadzilla is flying off the shelves in Norton. There may be a reason for it.
“We’ve sold a bunch of those new four-armed spinnerbaits this week. I don’t know if anybody is catching any on them, but they have been buying them up,” Colyer said.
Striper anglers have been hooking hybrids on Cherokee Lake trolling deep-diving crankbaits. There is always a use for live bait, if you can throw a cast net. There has been a lot of bait balled up to throw on.
Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine reports the Long A Bomber bite stirring on South Holston Lake.
Good, old “bone” color is the main player in this vee-waking surface tactic that — counter-intuitively — often targets fish that are suspended fairly deep . There is a mystique associated with bone color, but other colors work, Pendergrass said.
“Things are really starting to swing toward the fall pattern on most of our lakes,” he said. “A few more days of cool weather and a couple more hard frosts will really get it going.”
Assorted topwater lures, small crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps are the order of the day.
On the fly fishing beat, the big news this week is that Project Healing Waters will be taking 26 disabled veterans on South Holston River float trips this weekend. And it looks like the trout fishing will be good for them.
Huck Huckaba at Eastern Fly Outfitters in Johnson City reports that the brown trout spawn isn’t in full swing on the South Holston yet, but lots of big fish are definitely staging for it.
“On these overcast days there are a lot of Blue Winged Olives. Scuds are also coming into play,” Huckaba said. “With all these bigger fish moving up, I’d recommend having a few streamers handy. These big fish are looking to feed hard before they start spawning.”
On Nov. 1, two designated spawning areas on the South Holston will be closed to all angling until Feb. 1. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is studying natural trout reproduction on the Watauga tailwater, but no closed spawning sections have been established on that river as of yet.
Huckaba doesn’t fish for spawning trout but understands why the South Holston step-grate is packed elbow-to-elbow with anglers once it gets going.
“It’s nothing to look out and see a 30-inch brown in six inches of water. Some guys wait all year for that,” he said. “It can be all right. The main thing is not to wade through the redds.”