For the first time we can remember there isn’t a tailwater that’s worth fishing for trout here in East Tennessee. High water in the reservoirs has TVA dams spilling water. This is a relatively uncommon event and usually happens at one or two dams, but not all of them.
Norris Dam spilling water on the Clinch River
This won’t last for long and it’s probably just as well it’s in January when the weather is often too cold to get out. At the moment TVA’s lake and river info shows Norris, Cherokee, Apalachia, South Holston, and Wilbur Dams all spilling. Those are the dams on our most prolific trout tailwaters. Norris has spilled a number of times in the past but we can’t ever remember Cherokee, South Holston, or Wilbur dams ever spilling on account of high water.
We don’t expect any long term effects. The fish are built for it and TVA does all of this under controlled circumstances. In fact, the prime reason for TVA’s organization in the 1930′s was for flood control in the Tennessee Valley. Even when spilling ceases it looks like water levels will remain pretty high as the dams will continue to pull a maximum amount of water through the generators.
Ont the bright side, the mountain streams have nearly dropped to fishable levels. These streams can rise quickly but never stay high for extended periods.