After the TVA decided to start letting go of some of the water impounded in the South Holston Lake, UCA was on the South Holston River almost daily. Having received almost no water all summer until late July, the sulphur hatch on the high water was pretty disappointing to these guides. It certainly wasn’t any where close to what it was last summer. The start times for the fish to start looking up varied day by day–nothing consistent. And instead of having rising heads all over the river, they seemed to only look up in a few spots consistently. My guess is that the low water all summer long allowed the wade fishermen access to the river basically 24-7. Those fish were trained quite well when the big releases of water hit. A buddy of ours called us and asked if his pet fish were back in graduate school yet in early September. Our response was “yeah. They’re defending their dissertations today!”
The Watauga fished well off and on too. The high water nymph bite was good. When it worked out, it was a fun little ride to float the South Holston in the morning and catch the high water on the Watauga for nymphs.
Looking ahead to the emergence of fall: both of those rivers will see a strong rise in the blue wing hatches and, especially on the South Holston, the midge activity, which, of course, is already and always strong. The blue wings have already started to mix in with the sulphurs on the South Holston.
The big fish from the bottom lake impoundments will start moving up into the river for the fall spawn for the brown trout toward the end of October and November. Get your eggs patterns ready!