Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 12/24/14
So far, the rain hasn't blown out all the streams but they all are on the high side and
there's a lot more rain coming. The Oconaluftee River is blown out big time. If
the gauge is right, it breaks the 1991 record. Seems the North Carolina side has
received a lot more that the Tennessee side so far, but that is still subject to change.
I will not be posting anything tomorrow. Merry Christmas to everyone and happy
Hanukkah (ends today) to our Jewish friends.
South Holston River, Tennessee, part 2:
Yesterday, I linked an article I wrote for the November, 2013 issue of the Perfect Fly
"Fishing Journal" and today I'm linking the pages of the Perfect Fly website pages on
the South Holston River. It includes a link to the South Holston fishing report that is
updated weekly. Today, I will just mention a few things I found unusual or worth
writing about during the last several years of fishing the South Holston.
1. One thing I should point out is the fact the hatches and insect population varies
greatly from the lower part of the river than the upper section near the dam. That
leads to a lot of confusion because anglers will often hear guys say that such and
such insect is hatching, yet go to the stream the very next day and not find them.
That is very common and its due mostly to the different sections of the water. The
variation in the releases of water from the lake changes the water temperature
throughout the river. Of course, that is common with most tailwaters. In the South
Holston case, it means there are several zones that have different populations of
insects, namely caddisflies. There isn't much variation in the mayflies but they will
hatch at different sections of the stream and constantly change. There are
caddisflies in the lower sections that don't exist in the upper sections. There are
some species that only exist in the middle section of the tailwater. Just keep in mind,
that the location or area of water you fish the river from top to bottom, has a lot to do
with the insects.
2. I mentioned zones and anyone that has fished the South Holston is aware that
there is a section of water below the dam that's above the weir dam that's completely
different from the section below the weir dam. The weir dam was added in 1991 to
add oxygen to the water when generators are not running. The water between the
dam and the weir also has trout but few anglers fish for them. The reason is simple.
They are more difficult to catch because the flows are smooth and clear. The trout
are much easier to spook. It takes a completely different strategy and fishing
techniques to fish that section.
3. This is another tailwater where shoals run across the river and create varying
depths of water and conflicting currents. Often, when the flows are low, anglers have
trouble catching trout because they can't keep a drag free drift and/or they spook the
trout. Some guys say fly fishing the South Holston is technical fishing. Call it what you
like, but that simply means you can't be a mediocre angler and always expect
to catch trout on the South Holston. In my opinion, that makes it an even better
4. I'll never forget a local guide telling me, "our Sulphurs are not like other sulphurs -
our's are a tan color". That was several years ago. I found out shortly after that why.
What he was calling Sulphurs are Eastern Pale Evening Duns and although similar in
many respects to true sulphurs, they are a completely different species from the true
Sulphurs. You can read about that in the links I mentioned above. It is one of the
reason, not the only reason, but one of them that causes what locals call the Sulphur
hatch to last so long. Of course, that's why common names of insects are actually
worthless. You can call an insect whatever you like. Only the scientific names are
meaningful in regards to identifying them.
5. A lady fishing just below the weir dam a few years ago, taught me a lot about fly
fishing the South Holston. She was catching trout after trout, when none of the other
anglers near her were catching anything. She showed me why. She had a good
imitation of an adult Black Fly. She was fishing it (a dry fly) on 6X tippets and a total
leader/tippet length of about 14 foot. She caught one in front of everyone that would
go over 18 inches. Our next trip there, we took all our entomology equipment and
obtained samples of the black fly larva, pupa and the adults. I had one of our fly tiers
create patterns to match all three stages. That was several years ago. Now they sell
like hot cakes sell in Pigeon Forge, not only for the South Holston, but for several
other tailwaters in the East, Midwest and West. These are shown near the bottom
of this Perfect Fly page, and look like the real things. They come in size 18 and 20.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, expect more showers and possibly a thunderstorm. The high will be near 62.
South wind will be around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. The chance of
precipitation is 100%. Tonight, there's a 20 percent chance of showers.
Christmas Day, there's a a 10 percent chance of showers before 7am. It will be
mostly cloudy with a high near 49. West wind 5 to 10 mph.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 676 cfs at 2.92 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 3430 cfs at 4.63 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 406 cfs at 3.51 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. My guess is it is too high to wade.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: I feel sure
it is blown out.
Current Recommended Streams: None
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18
2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
3. Cream Midges: 20/22
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
Keep in mind, the strategies I am recommending is for the maximum odds
of catching numbers of fish. Many prefer or favor a dry fly and by all means there
isn't anything wrong with that. It's just a fact that if nothing is hatching at the time, it
reduces your odds of success. You can still probably hook some trout, just not as
many as if you fish subsurface. Of course, this is also based on using good
techniques and the right flies. Some guys don't know how to fish below the surface.
Until I spotted something hatching, assuming I was fishing a low to mid elevation
stream, I would fish a size 18 Blue-winged Olive nymph. Many of the species of
mayflies called Blue-winged Olives are bi-brooded, meaning they hatch twice a year.
They are swimming nymphs that dart around in short spurts and hide wherever they
can. They don't stay wedged up under the rocks like most of the other mayfly
nymphs, the majority of which are clingers.
If the water is below 43 degrees, I would switch to a Cream Midge larva and Cream
Midge Pupa tandem rig, with the larva the bottom fly and the pupa above it.
If you spot something hatching, it will most likely be Cream Midges or small
Blue-winged Olives. Switch to the adult Cream Midge, if it is midges hatching, or the
BWO Dun or emerger, if it is the BWOs.
Tips for Beginners:
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
Thank you for visiting our site. James Marsh, Pending CFO
(Chief Fishing Officer) Perfect Fly
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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