July Guide Report

The Watauga and South Holston are dam controlled rivers in E. TN that remain cold year-round. Considering our hot, dry, and sunny month of July, these two rivers have been our primary focus for our guided trips. These tailwaters originate from the depths of South Hoslton and Watauga Lake providing us year-round 50 degree water. This cold water runs for up to 20 miles below the either dam, gradually warming as it enters the body of Boone Lake. The result is outstanding summertime fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout in the most gin clear of water environments.

The South Holston sulphur hatch has ebbed and flowed as always, providing guest with shots at outstanding dry fly days. The upper river is boasting the biggest hatches, while the scud, midge, and terrestrial bite is more dominant the further you move down river. High water float trips in the upper river during the afternoon sulphur and bwo hatch can challenge, and also reward the best dry fly anglers. The scene has been pods of 10-30 fish rising to size 16-22 sulphurs/bwo’s, coming up from the deep, gin clear depths. We have also been targeting trophy sized brown trout, throwing streamers late in the day during high water flows, and sight-fishing to the big fish pods in low water when the situation provides itself.

The Watauga has a little to offer every type of angler with various options for float and wade fishing trips. Numerous sections have fished well during both high water releases and low water flows over the last month. Sulphurs, midges, cranes, little black/blonde caddis, and terrestrials seem to be the go to bugs, but hatches will widely vary throughout the river (Hendricksons, slates, etc). During high water generation you can get away with throwing some meat, especially during the evening hours. Trout fingerling, shad, and sculpin patterms have all worked while bigger has often been better. A terrestrial bite is there mid morning, along with a good sulphur hatch most afternoons. Below the Doe River, tactics can vary widely depending on the water temperatures and color. Once they generate, streamer fishing can become exciting, especially when you luck into stormy weather triggering the action. The beauty of the Watauga is that dry flies, terrestrials, streamers, swinging wets, dry drop, nymphing, etc. can all work on the same trip.

June 2 Stream Reports

Busy times and good fishing… and luckily for us we were out guiding A LOT. By running 10 to 25 boats a week, we were able to stay dialed into a variety of rivers all spring. In addition, we got our fly shop up and running and will continue to add inventory as the summer goes. Thanks goes out to all of our customers who made our spring a successful one. We are currently guiding the Watauga, South Holston,  Nolichucky River, and Boone, NC area small streams, and looking forward to a busy summer.

The Watauga black caddis hatch was something to behold in mid April.  Hordes of caddis crawled over every rock, and swarmed in every  tree for a straight week on the lower river . Calling this thing a blanket hatch would be an understatement. Currently the middle river is fishing outstanding, with good releases from Wilbur dam helping the bite.  We are now in sulphur, midge, cranefly, hendrickson, and terrestrial season on the Watauga tailwater. Lots of big browns and heavy bows hit the nets this spring, and the pics below help tell the story.

The generation flows on the South Holston were limited to hourly pulses usually early morning, and midday, but longer generations have arrived. We took advantage of the low water and lack of crowds the past few weeks, and sightfished up some great brown trout. The sulphur hatch came off as expected in early May, with flurries of good dry fly action most afternoons. The big lake run brown trout (and some stripers) are jamming up river, giving guest shots at world class fish. It’s the same old bug story for the S. Holston, as midges, suphurs, and scuds are dominant… but presentation is everything. The streamer bite has been fair to good during the generation, stained water, or nighttime as some of the big fish will target hatchery rainbows.

The small streams around the Boone area went through a mild drought in early April, but have rebounded nicely with increased rains and a cool early May. The delayed harvest streams will be clobbered the first Sat in June with the opening of kill season for the DH water.  So there goes all that nice public water that offers the average guy, or poor college kid easy access quality trout fishing. Some of the DH water in the high country is capable of supporting wild and holdover populations of trout. In our opinion much of the the high elevation North Carolina DH water needs to be re-categorized,  protected, and managed year-round.  Bug wise… Big sulphurs, gray and yellow stones, creme midges, big  slates, and blonde/black caddis have been coming off most of the Boone NC  small streams. A terrestrial bite is cranking up, as the ant patterns are starting to get smacked.

The Nolichucky smallmouth season is well underway, currently providing smallmouth enthusiast  plenty of topwater action.  The fish have spawned successfully and are now off the beds.  The early morning and late afternoon popper bite is a blast to fish and should perk the interest of any power fisherman. With a larger than average size compared to years past, this rebounding fishery is offering our guest an opportunity to pursue an original Appalachian gamefish, in the most pristine and scenic of environments.



March 30, 2016 Guide Report

March has been pleasantly warm, and the fishing was very good the entire month. We have been targeting the high country freestone rivers, chasing smallmouthbass and big rainbow trout. We have also hopped around some small streams in the Boone, NC region. This time of year, the freestone (non dam controlled) rivers boast temperatures in the mid to high 50’s, which makes for some great multi-species fishing. On the smaller creeks we have been fishing NC DH and private waters since  all of the hatchery supported water is closed for the month. Hatches of little blonde caddis are coming off on each river we have visited big or small. Big dobson flies,  stonefly patterns, and caddis nymphs are producing consistently on the big rivers, and a streamer bite has been there on most days. We look forward to the Caddis hatch on the Watauga as well as the run of laker brown trout from Boone Lake in the coming weeks.

February 11, 2016 Guide Report

The hard winter has set in, thus limiting the number of guided fishing trips the past month. However, we love taking advantage of  decent weather and great fishing when we get a chance. The long, scenic float trips on the Nolichucky River have produced some awesome rainbow trout action. We have connected on some great fish by twitching big streamers, swinging wetflies, and nymphing large attractors. Some sections have iced up, but a stretch of >40 deg weather should allow access this remote, beautiful, and productive water for the remaining winter and into spring. As the weather warms, we will see a transition to smallmouth bass, only enhancing the trip experience.

The S. Holston and Watauga tailwaters will continue to fish productively all winter, as the dams consistently pump water temps in the mid to high 40’s.  You can expect good midge and blue wing hatches on both tailwaters, and a decent “post spawn” streamer bite with the right water flows. While the brown trout spawn is about finished, the rainbows are preparing for their yearly ritual.

In between the fishing, Justin has been working his Brittany on ruffed grouse in the high elevation mountains of NC.  While not for the timid hunter, these exciting hunts are producing multiple flushes on most half day walks.  With the increasing population numbers, and further polishing of our bird dog, we hope to put some clients on these birds in the fall/winter of 2016-17.




Nov and Dec, 2015 Guide Reports

We finished up the 2015 season with a high number of successful trips, both floating and on foot. A warm early winter provided us a wide variety of rivers to fish, water levels, and tactics used. From tiny creeks to the big tailwaters, we covered it all, rounding out a very productive year for our guides. We would like to thank all of our customers for another great year of fishing, your business is much appreciated!

The S. Holston continues to be a top producer on the national level, considering both the numbers of fish caught, and upper end size. On Nov 1 every year, the S. Holston closes about 1/4 of the river for the brown trout spawn. Despite the limited water, our floats generally produced great numbers each and every trip, with shots at world class fish mixed in. The bwo and slate hatches came off as always mid morning through evening, with cloudy and calm days providing the best dry fly opportunities. The brown trout moved on the spawning redds mid December, and the heavy spawning should last into mid Jan.

The upper and middle sections of the Watauga tailwater has fished extremely well, as lots of fish have moved up river to spawn. While the bread and butter one these floats are 12 in. beautiful browns and rainbows, we have targeted and landed some absolute monsters in early November. The spawn takes place earlier on the Watauga compared to the S. Holton, with brown trout showing up on the redds as early as late Oct. Small blonde caddis, bwo’s, and varieties of big slately mayflies have dominated the bug scene.

The small streams in the high country had one of the most productive Novembers we could ever remember. El Nino laced our weather pattern with wet and warm weather, providing us with optimal small stream fishing conditions. The small streams around the Boone, NC region fished extremely well, and the outlook looks good for the rest of winter and into spring. The Boone area DH sections are in especially good shape helped by the big flows and heavy stockings. The big flows kept the stockers happy while they acclimated to their new streams, plus eliminated the fish in a barrel situation, often seen in small DH streams. Bug life remained active up through the New Year, with sunny midday hatches being most prolific. Big yellow stones, small grey stones, and midges have been the most prevalent bugs.