If you’re looking for a place to go fishing this week you likely won’t need to look far. Water levels on mountain streams are excellent, tailwater flows are about as good as you can hope for. You can’t float the Hiwassee or South Holston right now, but other than that you can wade on any of the big rivers and find some schedule to accommodate a float too.
The warm weather coupled with good water levels in the Smokies mean that wet wading may be an option for many anglers this week, especially those who like to hike into the backcountry. We’ve seen a very reliable pattern emerge where nymphs are solidly the best means for hook ups early, but by 11:00 or so fish are beginning to look up. After lunch time the dry fly bite is on!
We like the tried and true “Stimulator/#16 beadhead whatever” combo early and often stick with it all day long as the fish continue to take either fly reliably. Those who hike in will find most dry flies in a size #14 to work well. A variety of insects are hatching right now so the fish are rarely keyed in on any single bug at any time of day. Expect that to happen very late in the evening when mayflies are hatching and stoneflies laying eggs on the water.
We’re also using the Tenkara rod quite a bit lately. We’ve got a few things in the works with that right now, but the Smokies are tailor made for fishing with Tenkara.
The warm weather this week should also kick the smallmouth into gear, particularly on the freestone rivers like the Nolichucky, Little Pigeon and lower Tellico and Little Rivers. Expect the French Broad and warmer sections of the Holston to produce as well. Go ahead and try a popper. We know you want to, but you’ll get more action on a Clouser Minnow or a simple Woolly Bugger.
We know the number of folks out there using drift boats is pretty small, but the Clinch and Holston are the best bets right now. A steady flow from Wilbur Dam that’s almost 100 cfs above what’s normally seen means that the Watauga will be on fire. Keep an eye on the schedules at Norris Dam as you’ll need to work around those closely if you want to float the Clinch. Flows on the Clinch favor the wader, but afternoon floats that extend into the evening are a possibility and Sulphurs are starting to show up.