The rivers have been all but devoid of fishermen this week. Even though one of the major recreation weekends of the year is upon us, you should be able to find some good fishing. You can even escape the crowds if you’re willing to fish during a football game.
Mountain streams in the Smokies are fishing exceptionally well. We’ve spent most of our time on Little River, but you can expect this stream to be among the most popular with other anglers this weekend. Any fishy water in the Smokies that requires a 10 minute walk will see few if any anglers.
Dry fly fishing is pretty good right now. Focus on smaller parachute patterns about a size #18 on the larger streams. Trout will be far less particular on the smaller streams so the basic Parachute Adams, Royal Wulffs, and Stimulators should turn plenty of fish.
The Clinch, South Holston, and Watauga should be the best tailwater performers in East Tennessee this weekend since TVA will diminish flows somewhat to make wade fishing a real possibility. All of these rivers are exceptionally cold and the fish are happy.
For the Clinch focus on midge patterns like the Zebra Midge. A #16 Beadhead Pheasant Tail Nymph should pick up some fish, particularly on the lower end of the river near Clinton. A #10 Black Woolly Bugger should pick up a few or two if everything else fails.
We hear that there are still Sulphurs up on the South Holston, but some small olives are starting to show up as well. Small midge larva patterns can be valuable here to, but small Pheasant Tail Nymphs and Comparaduns are the usual producers.
The bug situation is somewhat similar on the Watauga, but the fish should be less picky with regard to fly patterns. Watch for craneflies on the Watauga. They are often overlooked by anglers, but not the fish.