Fishing for walleye through a hole in the ice is reportedly terrific winter sport on many frozen lakes up in Minnesota this time of year.
We don’t need any augers, tip-ups or shanties to get into some winter walleye action in Northeast Tennessee. It does require warm clothing and determination.
According to Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine, the night walleye bite on Watauga Reservoir has been the most lively subject of discussion at his shop in Bluff City this past week.
“They are murdering the walleye after dark,” Pendergrass said. “The moon has been full lately, but I don’t think the moon has really mattered.”
What matters more is casting lures that are shaped and colored to resemble a rainbow trout, whether spoonbill Rebels, swimbaits or suspended jerkbaits.
Traditionally, the TWRA stocks fingerling trout in Watauga Reservoir during the winter months.
Coincidentally, there have also been good walleye reports coming from Douglas Reservoir. Good fish have been caught on Strike King Red Eye Shad, Rapala Shad Raps and Husky Jerks. Some have been caught down the lake, but walleye are stirring quite a bit in the river sections.
Good bass fishing reports continue to trickle in from South Holston Reservoir, where the Damiki Armor Shad and tight-lined duck feather fly are the dominant winter methods.
“When fish are suspended at a given depth, fishing the fly under a float is best. Otherwise, tight-lining his hard to beat,” Pendergrass said.
There is some Alabama rig talk on South Holston. Likewise, on Boone, which is also providing tight-line and float bites on the duck feather fly despite the extremely low winter pool.
Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton has been curious about potential shad die-offs on Cherokee Lake due to the recent extreme cold. So far, none have been reported, although lots of live shad have been spotted in the backs of pockets.
“The water surface temperatures are really cold,” said Colyer, who said float-and-fly fanciers can expect to use leaders at least as long as 20 feet on Cherokee.
“On South Holston, you can see fish go to 50 or 60 feet when it gets real cold. They don’t seem to go quite as deep on Cherokee.”
While the diehard winter anglers give us something to read about (and admire), other fishermen may be more inclined toward staying warm and gearing up for the spring.
The East Tennessee Fishing Show got under way yesterday at Chilhowee Park in Knoxville. A certain percentage of area anglers will probably head down the road this weekend to check that out.
Others are holding out for the Watson’s Marine Open House on Feb. 6, 7 and 8. This three-day family friendly event is open. Admission — and lunch — is on the house.
Celebrity anglers lined up to give seminars at this year’s open house include Skeet Reese, Terry Scroggins, David Walker and Shaw Grigsby. Ranger, Triton, Stratos and Crestliner manufacturing reps will be on hand. So will a slew of tackle vendors, including but not limited to: Daiwa, Abu Garcia, Z-Man, Hawg Caller, Damiki Baits, Powell Rods and iRod. Seminars, door prizes, the whole shebang.
On the fly fishing beat, Former Kingsport Times News columnist Don Kirk has partnered with the Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge to co-sponsor a fly fishing fair.
Kirk, a native of Morristown, wrote a column in the Kingsport Times-News for six years between 1980 and 1986. In his column, the current Montevallo, Ala. resident, covered all aspects of hunting and fishing. Kirk has authored a dozen books on outdoors as well as launching Southern Trout Magazine, a bi-montly digital publication, in May 2012.
The day-long fly fishing fair will be held on Feb. 1 at LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. There will be a full day of programs presented by experts in Southern fly fishing. There is no admission fee.