Wet, Mild Weather Across East Tennessee and the Smokies

We keep reminding ourselves that it’s August here in East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains. I supposed it does feel like August, assuming you’re in Seattle or Vancouver. Thanks to largely overcast weather the temperatures have remained in the 70’s for days now. Even the sunny days we’ve had have felt like late September or early October.

Smokies Evening Mists

We’ve seen some relatively tough fishing due to the unsettled weather even if the water conditions are nothing less than phenomenal. Regardless of what anyone thinks we can tell you with unequivocal certainty that fish in the Smokies don’t feed with reckless abandon in unsettled weather. If it’s a clear and sunny day things will probably be good. If it’s cool and drizzly all day it could be good, especially in the spring and fall with hatches happening.

In the peak of summer there aren’t many aquatic insects hatching so the fish aren’t quite so greedy as they are in spring and fall when we have hatches. Summer is the time for terrestrials like ants, beetles, and hoppers but it appears that the wet weather has kept their populations down, or at the very least kept them from being very active around the streams.

Luke's second day fish

Yes, you can catch fish. Don’t take our comments as the fish aren’t biting, but be prepared to see some good drifts go untouched. We’ve done best with dropper rigs as it seems each fish in the stream has his own ideas. You might do well with larger Stimulators, but we’re favoring smaller flies now. Keep the Stimulators small and perhaps consider other bushy dry flies to support your nymph that are smaller. Nymphs should be no larger than #16 or probably closer to #18 as part of a dropper rig.

But, on the other hand….. If you want to fish a big stonefly nymph there are plenty of opportunities for that too. Golden stoneflies are hatching right now so a large Tellico Nymph will certainly create some possibilities. This is not a rig for droppers, but a dedicated nymph rig and even better fished with split shot if you’re dropping it into heavy whitewater.

This brown trout was caught on tight lined stonefly pattern

This brown trout was caught on tight lined stonefly pattern

The Tailwaters

It looks like we’ll have a pretty good week on our local tailwaters with respect to flows. Waders should find some time with negotiable flows while floaters will also get a reasonable shot on the river. It looks like the Clinch will have a good flow this week, but the situation is pretty dire on the South Holston for waders this week where flows will limit fishing to those with boats. Don’t worry, though, as the Watauga will host waders who know how to read the generation schedule.

Sally Judd Clinch River Rainbow Trout

Sally Judd shows off a solid Clinch River rainbow trout

Dry fly fishing is certainly falling off as the summer hatches dwindle. Those who show up on the Clinch should have their tailwater nymph selections handy. That would include Zebra Midges, scuds, and small Pheasant Tail Nymphs.

We have high hopes for autumn flows schedules, but it’s typically a time when flows are tough on anglers as TVA drains the reservoirs. With the wet summer we’ve had we’re expecting to see high flows, but as the Magic 8 Ball would say, “The future is murky.”

There is a good chance we could see prolonged periods of a single generator on the Clinch. Any generation on the Clinch spells doom for waders, but those with boats who know the river dream of this flow when fish can be excellent. We’ll just have to wait until September to see what we get.