The Dude Abides: Night walleye fishing is lights out on Watauga

George Thwaites • Jun 5, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Darrin “Dude” Fletcher of Kingsport has been fishing for walleye out of Fish Springs Dock on Watauga Lake recently.The Dude abides.Fishing under the full moon, Fletcher and fishing partner Harry Whinston have caught 10 walleye that added up to roughly 68 pounds.Those are the ones they kept.“It’s crazy when you’re turning five-pounders loose because the ones you’re catching are so big,” said Fletcher. “They’re as long as your leg.”The water is up on Watauga, with lots of walleye crowding into the bushes on the banks. Fletcher has spotted these fish and tried to tease some out with topwater plugs, but they won’t fall for it.But there is a reason the good-old Spoonbill (some say Longbill) Rebel has been the go-to bait for walleye on Watauga for so many years. It does just what these fish seem to want.“You want to roll the bait slow, so it doesn’t go down more than two feet or 18 inches. Cast up to the bank, once you come across a limb you can watch them come out and take it,” he said.The reason Fletcher can see this happening is because his boat is equipped with a green fluorescent night fishing light, as opposed to the more common blacklight lantern so many bass fishermen have used for decades. His particular fishing light was built by Sid Metz, who works at Fish Springs.“It makes the light more like the moon ... it draws the alewives in. There are a lot of people fishing with them now,” Fletcher said.Watauga walleye anglers have their pet colors for baits, but Fletcher said all of his monsters have been caught on brown/chartreuse. He’s sticking with it.Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine in Bluff City reports that the bass fishing continues to thrive on Boone Lake, where water surface temperatures have moved into the high 70s and low 80s.“I’ve heard everything from the floating worm to topwater to Carolina rig to shaky head worms. They’re catching the snot out of them, “ Pendergrass said.He’s seen photos of two enormous brown trout that were caught in Boone Lake recently. By this he means the lake, not the river. That implies there must be enough oxygenated cold water in the thermocline left in Boone to keep those big browns alive. That’s just conjecture, though. Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton reports that the fishing on Cherokee Lake has been a little tougher than he’d expect. The bass activity had been running two weeks behind. Now it’s as if everything has jumped two weeks ahead of where it’s supposed to be.“The swimbait bite is usually good at this time of year, but it’s not,” Colyer said. “They’re holding water and there is absolutely no current going through. That affects the schooling fish we usually get on the swimbaits.”In the meantime, the bass fising on Cherokee hasn’t come to a complete standstill.“The flipping bite has been pretty decent. Everybody has been throwing the Sweet Beaver, and that’s been pretty good,” Colyer said.“The night bite has also been strong. Buzzbaits and spinnerbaits and the big worms — the Zoom Mag II and Ol’ Monster in particular — are good. It’s like we’ve gone straight into summer,” he said.George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Kingsport Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KTNSptsThwaites. Send your fishing photos to: [email protected]

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