Heading Out the River? Pack Your Rain Gear


It’s been pretty damp the past few days and the weather forecast is calling for more rain for about another week. While we’re getting some rain here in East Tennessee, we’re not seeing the flooding that Middle Tennessee has dealt with.

Streams in the Smokies are at a typical level for early autumn or late summer. That means relatively low, but only compared to earlier in the year. There’s a good chance that all the wet weather will bring stream levels up a bit.

Right now we’re seeing plenty of Golden Stonefly husks on the rocks along with some Isonychia skins. Use a large Tellico Nymph if want to match the stoneflies, but focus your efforts on deep pockets in swift water. That’s where the stoneflies seem to be the most abundant.

A #12 Pheasant Tail Nymph, Prince Nymph, or Zug Bug will imitate the Isonychias quite well and chances are probably good that you have one of those or something like it in your fly box. Keep an eye out for small Blue Wing Olives too. Most anglers won’t fish a size #18 in the Smokies, but a parachute pattern in this size will really catch some fish in the fall.

Little River has fished pretty good this week, but it’s also been the most tempermental of the streams in the Smokies. Some days have been great and others a bit more difficult. I took a guided trip up high for some brook trout and that was phenomenal. It was a little more difficult water to traverse as it was in rough country, but the fish were eager and colorful.

We’re still seeing great flows on the Clinch, South Holston, and Watauga Rivers so there are some great tailwater opportunities. I’ll be on the Clinch and give a first hand report, but we’ve heard of some good fishing with small nymphs this week.