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.