12/22/08

Destinations:
Since we are getting close to the holidays (less than two weeks) most of you will probably be
staying home or visiting friends and family during the coming days. I doubt that many of you will
be traveling to and fishing the Smokies although I hope you do.  January and the first part of
February is probably the coldest time of the year and you will have to pick out the better days to
expect much success fishing the freestone streams. By the end of February, everyone will be
doing their best to force the bugs to hatch and the trout to respond even though they will probably
have to wait a few more days to see any surface action. That considered, I thought I would write
about some fishing trips we have made to various other destinations. Don't expect these articles
to be well written and edited. I am not trying to win any awards, just tell you about some things I
hope you will find interesting and a few that I look back on with a gleam in my eye.

South Holston River Headwaters, Virginia - Part 1

When anyone mentions the South Holston River, the South Holston River tailwater
in Tennessee comes to most anglers minds. Few know much about the South Fork
of the Holston River headwaters in Virginia, before it becomes a tailwater. The
river's beginning is actually a limestone creek more than a freestone stream.
Limestone springs and little freestone creeks and branches feed the headwaters.
Buller Fish Cultural Station is located near the stream and diverts some of the water
to several ponds. They raise bass, northern pike, trout and muskie. It is one of a
few hatcheries that raise muskellunge.

Above the fish hatchery there is a dam on the river that created a small pond. As
far as I know and according to the state, the stream is not stocked above the dam.
They do stock it below the dam across from the fish hatchery and downstream of
there. Just above the pond, the stream flows through a small canyon. In some
places you will have to wade to progress upstream. Now keep in mind, the South
Fork of the Holston River is a small creek at that point. It is the beginning of the
South Holston River miles above the part that most anglers are familiar with.

Angie and I have fished this stream several times in the past. We haven't fished it in
the last three or four years. Each time we caught several trout both above and
below the little dam. In fact, we have caught some "hum dingers" below the dam in
the stocked section. We have taken several rainbows in the creek where it was not
over ten feet wide that we up to 16 inches and over. Catching that size rainbows
where you have to duck to get under tree limbs can be a lot of fun. The stream
splits into two sections below the dam. They look like small brook trout streams in
the Smokies at that point.

Above the dam, the river flows upstream to the top of a mountain. You can catch
trout the entire way to the top. You will need a map to find this location on the river.
It is not easy to find. You exit off I-81 several miles above Bristol near Marion. The
fish hatchery is on the right side of the interstate headed north but you will have to
exit to the left side and wind around making several turns to again cross the
interstate to be on your way to the area of the river I described. It is well worth the
trip whether you want to fish the upper part for wild trout or the stocked section.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh