As we enter 2014, we find Boone Lake at record low water conditions thanks to the TVA’s radical draw-down for dam repairs.
Bait is concentrated. Fish are concentrated. Stripers and hybrids have evidently gone on a feeding spree.
“The stripers are hitting good if you can get to them,” said Charlie Parker at Eastern Fly Outfitters.
“The only place you can get in is Pickens Bridge Winter Access. There is a shad kill going on right now, causing the stripers to feed more actively.”
Fly fishers are using bucktail streamers to get on these ravenous breaking fish. Hard tackle anglers are using live bait and bucktail jigs.
Much of Boone Lake’s exposed bottom has been too muddy to walk on. But with the plummeting temperatures headed our way, enterprising anglers may find a way to get to some fishing spots on the Boone channel that might otherwise be inaccessible.
“I guess after tonight everything will be frozen. Then you can just walk out there and fish wherever you want,” quipped Clint Lensgraf at Mahoney’s Sportsmans Paradise in Johnson City.
The winter pool status of Boone Lake hasn’t adversely affected the trout fishing on the South Holston and Wilbur (Watauga) tailwaters.
Both Parker and Lensgraf reported decent fishing on Blue Winged Olive dry and nymph patterns. Brown trout are still actively spawning. Egg patterns are still working well on both rivers (where angling is allowed). Parker recommends the Sucker Spawn. Lensgraf’s customers have good reports on the Y2K.
On the area bass fishing scene, anglers with sophisticated electronics and the savvy to use them correctly have been fishing the Damiki Armor Shad for smallmouth on South Holston Lake. The bass anglers have been fishing to have been suspended as deep as 40 feet down.
Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton reports that some anglers on Cherokee Lake have been using Damiki tactics, but far more have been fishing Alabama rigs.
“I think the Alabama rig is probably the best cold water bait that has ever been,” Colyer said. “Once the water gets below 45 degrees you need to think about float and fly or the Damiki . But if its in the 50-degree range, if you’re not throwing an umbrella rig, you’re probably missing out.”
With the winter storm hitting us, that’s probably going to change pretty soon. Average water temperatures on South Holston were recently reported at 48 degrees. On Cherokee, it was around 46. Once we get snow and the subsequent snow melt to follow, we can expect average temperatures on area reservoirs to plummet.
In other news, the annual Let’s Go Fishin’ seminar series at Higher Ground Baptist Church was slated to get under way last night with Bassmaster Elite Series professional Ott DeFoe.
DeFoe, a local fan favorite, has kicked off Nathan Light’s popular series for four years in a row.
Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Brandon Card will be the featured speaker for the Jan. 9 session.
Other professional anglers on tap for the winter seminars, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday night, are Brad Burkhart, Skylar Hamilton, Joe Lee, Mark Mauldin, Jack Wade and DeWayne Wilson.
George Thwaites is a Sports and Outdoors Writer for the Kingsport Times-News. Send trophy fish photos to: email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @KTNSptsThwaites