The weather forecast is calling for sunny skies and mild weather this weekend but it looks as if water levels will be challenging across East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. We had a restless sleep last night as a strong front passed through with strong storms and heavy rain.
This morning several USGS stream gauges aren’t showing any results, but when we checked on Little River this morning it was already blown out and rising. Even as we’ve experienced plenty of beautiful weather this week there was still some measurable snow in the highest elevations of the Smokies.
We’ve heard from several folks this week who have been anxious that spring fishing has taken off without them, but that hasn’t been the case. Yes, the weather has been great and it’s been glorious to get outside and feel the sun on our faces, but you haven’t missed all that much.
Earlier in the week water temperatures were still cold from snow melt. Yesterday the bugs and fish both seemed to hunker down as the strong front approached with gusty winds through the afternoon.
Expect high water through the weekend throughout the mountains, but hopefully negotiable by Sunday. We know you want to cast dry flies, but honestly you’ll probably do better with nymphs.
Tailwaters will likely be a better alternative but flows aren’t perfect. The South Holston and Watauga will be the best bets for waders but water clarity could be an issue after the heavy rains. Expect the Watauga to be muddy below the mouth of Doe River, but any small stream can contribute dirty water after an event like this.
The Clinch should have a window of fishy flows this weekend, but it would be wise to stay on the upper river above Coal Creek and Cane Creek which can muddy the flow. Hopefully that won’t be much of an issue by Sunday.
The Hiwassee may be the best shot out there, especially if you have a boat and know how to use it. Expect some lower flows there where waders can get out a little bit, but extra water coming into the river from upstream of the powerhouse may give the effect of a full two generators. Regardless, the fish are there, eager, and in great shape.
If you’re thinking about getting on our guide calendar you probably shouldn’t wait much longer. Calls are coming in daily.