Tailwater Flows Much Improved As Mountain Streams Rise & Fall With Thunderstorms

We’ve been holding our breath a bit as we’ve watched the weather radar over the past few days. Streams in the Smokies can’t be uniformly rated as “high” or “ideal” as a number of thunderstorms have hit the region in a hit or miss fashion. It’s safe to say that streams in North Georgia are blown out right now as nearly five inches of rain poured there on Saturday with more on Sunday.

One of several nice trout we picked up in about two hours of fishing

One of several nice trout we picked up in about two hours of fishing

We fished the Oconaluftee River in the park last Thursday as we made our way over to Cullowhee for the Federation of Fly Fishers Southeastern Conclave and it fished very well. We came back on Sunday to see the river running muddy in Cherokee. As it turns out most of the dirty water was coming down Raven Fork and the Oconaluftee was mostly clear in the park. Little River has come up a little bit, but is still quite fishable.

Dry fly fishing has been pretty good, but any stream with high flows will certainly fish better with nymphs. There are so many different bugs hatching right now that no single nymph pattern is a necessity, but we’ve been doing pretty well with Tellico Nymphs and Tellico Princes lately. Same goes for Pats Nymph and Zelon Nymphs.

This chunky rainbow took a #12 Tellico Nymph

This chunky rainbow took a #12 Tellico Nymph


For the first time in a while we’re seeing not just good, but damn good flows on our local tailwaters. I wouldn’t take this for granted, though. The reservoirs are essentially full and if this wet pattern continues we’ll see that TVA will have no choice but to bump the flows again.

We have a full schedule of guiding in the Smokies this week so it doesn’t look like we’ll get much chance to get on the big water this week, but we can pretty much tell you what to expect. On the Clinch you should fish a #16 or #18 Pheasant Tail Nymph in the morning and early afternoon. If you see some fish dimpling on the surface you might switch over to a Zebra Midge. In the afternoon you’ll see some Sulphurs and this might even tend more toward evening than afternoon. A #16 Comparadun or Sparkle Dun is usually the best choice.

Over on the big Holston outside of Knoxville you can be sure of see some caddis and the fish rise in the riffles to them. We tend to favor #18 Elk Hair Caddis in Tan and an X Caddis for the most selective fish. Once again the Pheasant Tail and Zebra Midges will keep you busy when there aren’t any bugs on the water.


  1. As if it is not bad enough, us sitting in an office all week while you all fish….now you have to go and give us the finger as you bring in another nice brown…..thanks.