We’ve experienced an incredibly mild winter and the extended forecast shows nothing but above average temperatures over the next few weeks. This is important as we usually start watching for our spring hatches to get rolling in early March, about the time when the weather starts to warm up. Since the warm weather will be arriving early (we’ve seen record warm days twice in the past two weeks, one of which was the warmest recorded the earliest in the year, and on a cloudy day no less) we can probably expect our hatches to start early as well.
In past years we’ve seen our Quill Gordon hatch start as late as March 12 and as early as February 15. The one thing that has probably kept the bugs from starting already is that we seem to get a one or two day cool down, especially up high in the mountains with some snow, so that has kept the water temperatures from staying above the critical 50 degree mark for very long. As the forecast seems to be showing a more uniform warm period on the horizon I’d advise everyone to get those flies tied and plan your sick days accordingly.
Tailwater schedules can be maddening at this time of year as they are still a bit unpredictable. The Clinch and Holston may have some fishable windows, but it’s not much you can really count on. Fortunately for most anglers, TVA seems to place those windows on weekends, but look for March 15 to be about the time when flows become more predictable barring unforeseen flooding rains.
In the meantime the South Holston and Watauga will provide the most reliable flows for anglers wanting to fish the tailwaters. The Hiwassee is a dark horse here too. It’s not fished nearly so frequently as it’s better known counterparts to the north, but can have some very good flows for wading anglers.