We’ve had a relatively mild winter and it looks like spring will be a few weeks early. Clingmans Dome Road in the Smokies, one of the highest roads in the eastern US from 5000′ to over 6000′ elevation, will be opening this weekend. It’s usually covered in snow and ice until April.
Sign of spring: Rising trout in a long, deep run of water in the Smokies
Yesterday we saw the first real mayfly hatch of the year on Little River. The water was exceptionally cold as melting snow from high on the mountains offset any warmth from the sun. The fish were understandably sluggish, but late in the afternoon there was a very nice hatch of Blue Quills and a few trout were paying attention.
Tight close up of a #18 Blue Quill
This nice brown was a steady riser
In the big scheme it wasn’t more than an hour of productive fishing, but it was all with dry flies. That counts for a lot at the end of winter.
We expect the streams to warm into the 40’s over the next few days as warmer weather and some rain last night should have cleared much of the snow from the higher elevations. There will almost surely be a few more cold snaps in the mountains but it looks like momentum will start to build over the next week with regard to the hatches.
Reservoir levels are getting close to where they should be so we’ll start paying closer attention to flows from TVA dams. Hopefully those will recede a little bit. Those with drift boats have done pretty good on the South Holston lately, but that river doesn’t have anywhere near the volume of larger rivers like the Clinch.
Those with real skill on the oars could consider the Hiwassee. Waters here have receded to something like normal, but waders will need to know where to go. There are always a few places on this river where anglers can fish when the river is up, but it takes some local knowledge and you’ll rarely venture more than a few yards from the bank on this widest of Tennessee trout rivers.