If you’re successfully able to navigate Valentine’s Day you could have a good weekend out on the water. As always, there are plenty of opportunities in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, but all the snow from this week will certainly play into any plans you might make.
All the snow we’ve had will likely make the wild trout streams in the Smokies a poor choice. Depending on the exact location there will be 9-12″ of melting snow. That will keep water temperatures down in the basement. Furthermore there is more snow forecast for Friday night above 2500′ elevation. For a point of reference that’s close to the elevation of Elkmont, the trailheads at Tremont, and Smokemont.
Moving away from the tougher fishing we can’t help but notice some tasty opportunities on the tailwaters. The South Holston and Watauga will both have flows favorable for wading. The Holston River below Cherokee Dam will have some windows with good flows but you’ll have to watch your P’s and Q’s to hit it right. The Clinch might even have a few hours with negotiable flows. But we’ve saved the dead ringers for last….
The Hiwassee will have the best flow schedule in recent memory. Flow projections show a “pulse” schedule from the powerhouse of a little bit of a generator every 3 hours. This is the best schedule waders can ask for. You’ll need to pay attention to when the water rises, but it shouldn’t hurt things much. In fact, when the flow begins you’ll need to back out of the deepest water but if you’re casting in knee deep riffles you probably won’t need to move much.
The river is full of nice fish and catch and release regulations are in effect until March. Trust us on this one… You’ll be glad you did!
For our peeps over in WNC we might suggest you take a look at the “big” Nantahala, the tailwater section of the river known for rafting. It will be running a minimum flow this weekend so paddlers will not be a concern. Focus your efforts on the riffly water and bring some #16 nymphs. You might even luck into a BWO hatch.
The delayed harvest section of the river just upstream of the powerhouse will certainly fish, but expect all the crowds to gravitate to the big, easy stockers found there. We don’t blame anyone for heading to the big, easy fish, but we’ve always preferred the abundant wild fish down in the tailwater. And there are big ones there too.