Clinch River Tailwater:

9/15/08

The Clinch River is a locally well known and frequently fished tailwater that is
stocked with trout by the state of Tennessee, but there is a very important
exception that separates it from the typical stocked trout stream. It has some huge
holdover brown trout. It is possible to catch them on the fly. The Clinch River is
located near Knoxville, Tennessee, below Norris Dam.

This tailwater is stocked by the TWRA from March through September with brown,
rainbow and brook trout. This web page will show you a map of the stream and
the public access points.:

http://www.state.tn.us/twra/gis/troutpdf/Norris_Lake_Tailwater_(Clinch_River).pdf

I have only fished the river about a half dozen times a few years ago and there is
a reason why. It is a stocked stream and I prefer fishing for wild or native trout.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t a very good trout stream and it doesn’t mean that
anglers shouldn’t enjoy it. Fishing should be fun and enjoyable and as long as
that purpose is fulfilled, any stream is a good trout stream. As mentioned, it does
have a large number of holdover trout and some of them are huge brown trout.
Hooking one of them on a fly gear would be an exciting thing for any angler.

The one time I fished the river from a drift boat, we caught lots of rainbows in the
ten to twelve inch range and a few small browns that appeared to have been
stocked for only a few days. The other trips were made to various places along
the river where we waded the stream. We caught trout on every trip. I have not
caught a large brown trout on the Clinch because I have not fished the type of
flies and water discharges that are conductive to catching large browns. Most of
those fish are caught on larger streamers drifting the river because they feed
mostly on smaller fish.

We have caught several rainbows and a few smaller browns on dry flies. Our best
catches on the dry fly came below the jail. I would expect that imitations of mayfly
nymphs, midge larvae and pupae, caddisfly larvae and pupae and crustaceans
would usually produce much better than dry flies although the Clinch does have a
good number of hatches for a tailwater.

The holdover trout loose most of their hatchery characteristics and become more
and more inclined to act like wild trout the longer they are there. Again, the Clinch
probably has as many large brown trout as any stream in the state of Tennessee,
all of which are aging holdover trout. I could recommend the Clinch to anyone that
wants a shot at a large brown trout.


Copyright 2008 James Marsh