The bad news for Tri-Cities fly fishermen: the two designated spawning sections on the South Holston tailwater are closed as of today. And they’ll remain closed until Feb. 1.
The good news: whatever water remains open to angling will probably be accessible to wading.
Jon Faris at Eastern Fly Outfiters in Johnson City reports that it looks as if the TVA won’t be generating on either the South Holston or Watauga tailwaters this weekend.
You still need to call the TVA hotline in advance before you commit. But it looks good.
“It looks good for both rivers. Both should be wide open for wade fishing,” said Faris.
He noted that the small blackflies and midges remain abundant on the South Holston. On a sunny day, you can still see a few sulphur mayflies flitting about.
But the Blue Winged Olive is unquestionably the dominant mayfly hatch for this time of year. Particularly when skies are gray and the weather is uninviting.
“There is something about them. They love nasty weather,” Faris said. “When its cold and snowing, you just know Blue Wings are going to be all over the place.”
Most of the BWOs he’s seeing are in the Size 18 to 22 range.
Big spawning-sized fish are showing up in both rivers. Where you can fish for them, he’d recommend streamers over egg rigs.
“I think its a little bit too early for the egg patterns. I think it’ll be mid to late November before that really gets going,” Faris said. “For now, streamers and small stuff are the order of the day.”
While ambient temperatures are much more comfortable than they were this time last week, the fluctuating barometer seems to have disrupted most of the fly action for smallmouth, he said.
Chemical Alley in Kingsport will remain a popular destination for river smallmouth anglers when the weather settles, he said. It’s hard for anyone to really get to the best fishing locations without a jet boat, however.
Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports reports that Pound and Flannagan Reservoirs are all but deserted now that deer season is upon us. The relative quietude on Pound provided a friend of Colyer’s the opportunity to scuba dive recently with no interruptions.
While he didn’t encounter anything akin to a Loch Ness Monster, he did report seeing some monsters.
“He only went 100 yards and he saw two bass that had to be 12 or 14 pounds. These are some of the biggest bass he’s ever seen,” Colyer said.
It isn’t unusual for 5- to 6-pounders to be caught out of that small reservoir, Colyer said. But you never hear of any fish that big being caught in those waters. If they’re in there — well it certainly sounds like a project.
Out on bigger water, Cherokee Lake anglers are catching bass all over, from up in the river all the way down to the dam. The Zara Spook topwater bite has been excellent. So has the spinnerbait action. The Quadzilla four-armed spinnerbait is getting pulled through a lot of bait balls and hanging into lots of bass.
Meanwhile, striper anglers are getting into nice rockfish and hybrids up in the breaks. Bucktail jigs are a prime method for getting into these fish. Bigger leadheads — from 5/8 ounce to 3/4 ounce — are preferred to lend casting distance.
Some anglers prefer to sweeten the jig with a four to six-inch twister tail grub.