Fly Fishing the Hiwassee River Tailwater:
I will continue with some more fly fishing destinations that are near Great Smoky
Mountains National Park. I hope anglers from North Carolina and other nearby
states don't get to frustrated with my sticking to Tennessee waters. I will be getting
to other streams in other states that should be of interest to you in the near future.
The Hiwassee River tailwater is another of Tennessee's TVA tailwaters that is
regularly stocked with trout by the state. It is the southernmost tailwater in the
eastern part of the state located near Reliance. It can have some good holdover
trout. It does have a "trophy" section and this is usually where the best fishing
It is a beautiful river that will in some ways may remind you of a western stream. It's
upper part flows through the Cherokee National Forest, so access to the river is not
a problem. This tailwater is somewhat unusual in that it is not directly below a dam.
It is below a powerhouse. Pipes carry the water from the lake to the power house
for about twelve miles. There is also a stream between the dam and the
powerhouse, but it usually has very little water. The fly fishing opportunities start at
the dam and continue for several miles downstream.
This can be a good stream to wade or float. Drift boats are a common sight on the
river. The river can be waded when there is no generation and when there is
discharge from one turbine. It is even possible to wade it in some areas when two
are running but I would not suggest that you try this without someone with you that
is very knowledgeable about the river.
You should be aware of the generation schedule anytime you are fishing the river.
You can get into trouble even when one generator is running. The bottom is up and
down with a lot of shoals and pools.
If you plan on drifting the river in a boat, the best scenario would be two generators
running. I would suggest that you have someone with you that is knowledgeable
about the river if you are drifting this stream for the first time. There are areas
where you can hang a boat and get into trouble.
This tailwater has several good mayfly and caddisfly hatches. That makes for some
good dry fly fishing, especially during the Spring months of the year. You will find
Sulfurs, Hendricksons, Blue-winged Olives, Slate Drakes, White Drakes and even
Quill Gordons mayflies in this stream. You may have to fish a streamer or midge
larva during the winter months to catch fish, but just about any other time of the
year dry fly fishing is usually good. There will even be a few days in the winter when
it is good.
The facts that the dry fly fishing is good; access to the river is plentiful; and the
stream is usually wadable makes this tailwater a popular destination for many
Copyright 2008 James Marsh