Fall Guide Report

The “sluicing” continues on the South Holston and Watauga… highly varied and random in nature, yet all good at the same time. One has to wonder whether or not the higher minimum flows, and lower max flows would have a long term benefit to both rivers?  It’s intriguing to say the least.  The spawn on the Watauga is in full force as of the end of November, and the South Holston will keep cranking up as we get into December.  Outside of the egg pattern game, a furious  streamer bite is there in the right conditions and flows. Lots of nice fish are smacking sculpin patterns, along with small brown and rainbow trout  patterns, while defending their redds. Slates, blue wings, small caddis, and midges are the dominant hatches on both rivers. The Watauga seems to be the hotter river on most days, since lots of trout are jammed in the closed sections of the S. Holston, thus limiting access to highly productive water. In our opinion parts of the Watauga tailrace needs to be closed as well, as wild reproduction is taking place.

The freestone and small stream game has been outstanding this fall with plenty of water, cold nights, and moderate daytime temperatures.  Outside of some monster storms, our creeks have been running clear with moderate flows. We have been wading and floating various freestone rivers in ETN and WNC, targeting both the DH and wild sections of river. The DH sections around Boone, NC are stocked up and fishing well, and some hatchery supported water has been pumped up with some great looking fish. The big rains also washed out a lot of “club” water so things are looking “wilder” throughout the Watauga, NC drainage. The  freestone smallmouth bite is diminishing but you can catch a slab this time of year.  Boone Lake has produced some stripers and hybrids for us already, including some nice smallies… we will continue to dial this in for our clients looking to smack some big stripers and hybrids in a lake setting.


Summer 2017 Report

Throughout the summer “sluicing” flows from both Wilbur and South Holston dams kept us guessing as to which float to choose on a daily basis. Flows varied from 200cfs-2400cfs for the both the South Holston and Watauga, opening up a lot of river. Boat traffic was a little higher than usual since you could float almost anywhere at anytime. However, everyone had plenty of water to fish, and the sluice made for happier fish… net positive.

The South Holston flowed cold and green all summer, significantly reducing sight-fishing, but allowing for a wide variety of tactics to be used and lots of water to be covered. We had one guide posted down in what was Boone lake (now a tumbling tailwater river) until mid July, hardly fishing the upstream 20 miles.  The trout are reacting well to the Boone Lake draw down, as it has opened up miles of cold, hard-running trout water that was once still-water lake fishing.

The Watauga Tailwater continues to be a steady producer with opportunities for all skill levels.  Minimum flows have allowed for both wade and float fishing on most days. High water generation in the evenings has produced awesome streamer floats for big trout and stripers. The beginner anglers have loved the long floats over high numbers of wild and stocked fish, while the more experienced anglers appreciate the diversity the river has to offer.  Technical dry fly fishing for picky wild browns, or throwing sink tips and big flies during generation for big stripers will test the best of anglers.

We also had guides floating clients around on the Holston Proper sticking some awesome smallies on fly and light spinning gear. Just a few Nolichucky and New River trips went down due to the low freestone river flows, though both rivers are healthy and fishing. The high country creeks stayed nice until the drought hit mid summer, but have been pumped up as of late due to the hurricanes and some big rains. Some fun trips can be had hiking around the beautiful high elevation NC streams, and the 3 wt fishing will improve as we get into fall.

Spring 2017 Report

We were blown up this spring with guided trips, and we apologize for the delay in posting updated reports. Be sure to check us out on Instagram and Facebook (@trophyguides) for the most up to date fishing reports and pictures.

Anyways… Big rains this spring changed up a lot of our plans on a day to day basis. We were blown out of the lower tailwaters and freestone rivers for weeks at a time. So, we all hunkered in below the dams fishing clear water during the mega floods. Luckily the upper portions of the tailwaters will give up plenty of fish each day, allowing anglers to fish a variety of techniques. It was definitely a boom or bust spring overall. When the water cleared, greened up, or stabilized the fish went crazy, and searched out big flies in big water. May boasted some of the best streamer fishing our guides have witnessed in their careers. The Watauga black caddis hatch came and went with a flurry as always… we hit it good. The big prespawn smallies showed up nice… we hit that as well. The smallmouth bass have transitioned to their summer routines, and are currently sucking poppers in the shade. The sulphurs on the So Holston continue to pour off, and the big boys have started to migrate out of Boone Lake… fun times await.

Winter 2016-17 Report

We crawled out the drought in mid December, opening up a ton of really nice freestone water that hadn’t been touched in months. Between the Nolichucky, Watauga, S. Holston, and many of the high elevation small streams we stayed on the water as long as the weather held. Winter time in the S. Appalachians boast some of our finest freestone fishing of the year, and the folks willing to dress warm were generally rewarded. The S. Holston and Watauga tailwaters remained consistent throughout winter and fished extremely well for the most part.

Fall Guide Report, Nov 29

The drought has lasted into late fall, but the current rains will help put a dent in the abnormally low water, and hopefully end the region’s wildfire outbreak. Most of our trips have been limited to the S. Holston and Watauga tailwaters, where dam releases have be minimal but consistent. The trout are happy, and water is cold… just really clear. While the fishing has been fairly technical over the last couple of months, the rivers continued to produce when conditions allowed, and most importantly… Leaf catching season is over folks! Now onto blue wing olive hatches, trout migrations, and the yearly spawn…

The blue wing olive, slate, caddis, and midge hatches have increased the past couple of weeks on the Watauga tailwater. Dry fly fishing the shallow riffles has been really productive, as well as swinging wets on most days. Tricky looking, soft hackled PT’s, hare’s ears, and bwo wets in sizes 18-22 are a good choice. Some big blonde caddis have been coming off on the lower river, while slatey mayflies and bluewings dominate up top and through the middle river. Scuds and midges are always prevalent, and are also good choices on most days. The Watauga brown trout are starting to stack on the redds, and lots of nice fish have migrated up river for the spawn. November through December is a great time to book a trip on the Watauga tailwater. For the do it yourself crowd… stop by our shop, which is located conveniently (HWY 321, Hampton, TN) near some great wade fishing spots. We also have maps with put in/take out locations, and we are always eager to offer advice.

It’s boom or bust on the S. Holston right now… it’s just the gin clear water (feeder creeks have been dry) have the trout seeing everything, and mistakes are compounded when they are not in feeding mode. However, for the advanced angler looking to do some sight-fishing, it can be a brown trout dream world. We have landed some great fish this fall on the S. Holston, and the overall outlook for the river is trending up. Despite the drought and low water levels in Boone Lake, the river is as healthy as ever. Lately, daily hourly pulses and several hours of generation in the afternoon have given us nice windows of opportunity. If you hunt around a little in the evening hours you can usually find pods of fish rising on bwo, midge, and slate dries. Size 18-22 compara duns, sparsely hackled midge emergers, and CDC bwo and slate patterns… Such as loop winged emergers and puff daddy’s (~Dwayne’s for the old school crowd), tied slim, matching the shape and color of the bug will help. Getting on pods of big browns eating scuds mid morning can make your day in an hour or two. Fishing big streamers in high water has been hit or miss depending on the weather, generation schedules, and whether or not shiners are being spit out of the dam.

Thankfully, the S. Holston has two closed sections of river to protect some impressive spawning grounds from fisherman. The closed dates are Nov 1- Jan 28. The 1st section is from Hickory Tree Bridge upstream to the cul-de-sac at Riverbend Rd. The 2nd stretch is from the upper end of the island at Webb bridge downstream to the lower end of the island below Weaver Pike Bridge. Brown and yellow signs are located at the end of each island or on the river right side of the river.
These closed sections ensure our wild strain trout can reproduce without being bothered by anglers during their most vulnerable time.

We also mixed in little guide play time.. deer hunting the NC mountains, and a trip to Venice. Pics included.