Fishing Conditions Improve on Several Fronts

After heavy snow in the Smokies and temperatures that stayed down below freezing for an extended period we had all but written off any good opportunities for fishing the rest of the year. We usually expect things to stay pretty good up until around Thanksgiving but we were all but shut down well in advance of the holiday. In fact, this was the scene only a few days ago near the Chimneys.


Now here we are in December and the weather has grown mild, water temperatures have risen a bit, and flows on the TVA tailwaters look like they should start to recede. Hot damn!

We wouldn’t necessarily recommend anyone fish a dry fly in the Smokies this late in the season, but rest assured we’ll be giving it a crack ourselves. While this isn’t the approved way to catch fish, the water temperatures are warm enough right now to expect a few fish will be willing to rise to a Thunderhead or Parachute Adams. Anyone interested in the “approved method” to catch fish right now should fish a nymph rig with a Pheasant Tail, Tellico Nymph, Pat’s Nymph, Prince Nymph, or any two of those tied on at once.

Perhaps the most interesting thing we’re watching is flows on the Clinch, Holston, and Hiwassee. All of these have been off limits to waders for a while, although anyone who lives close to Cherokee Dam has had a few good windows to get on the Holston over the past few weeks. The Clinch fished extremely well this past season when water conditions were good and we’re eager to get back over there. The Hiwassee has been a tremendous sleeper and is another great option when you see the pulse schedule of three hours off and one hour one in rotation.

The classic tailwater winter rig consisting of a small Pheasant Tail Nymph and Zebra Midge will certainly be in play, but there will be the possibility of Blue Wing Olives on the Hiwassee along with a few risers. We’re up for it!

Late afternoon light in the winter on the Hiwassee River

Late afternoon light in the winter on the Hiwassee River