Making the Rounds

It’s still February and the latest weather forecast shows plenty of wintry weather in store this week so it’s a good thing I made the most of the bearable weather and good flows available. Last week we made a trip over to the Holston. Over the weekend I also floated the Hiwassee and checked on the situation up in the Smokies.

I’ve been hearing plenty of good things from the Hiwassee over the past year. It’s not a place I guide unless I’m helping out a local outfitter down there and it’s just far enough away for me to usually head for a closer option. The combination of cabin fever and urge to see a something new was enough to hitch up the drift boat and make the 90 minute drive south.

Good choice for the day!

Good choice for the day!

The Hiwassee has been running a steady two generator flow which pretty much necessitates a boat. There are some wading opportunities up near the powerhouse, but in all honesty you need to be a strong and adventurous wader. Furthermore you’re limited to a few small zones on a river 100 yards wide.

The river did fish extremely well, though. Most fish were in the 9″ size range but we did net a couple that would push the 16″ mark. The best rig we fish was a pair of #16 beadhead nymphs with a #6 split shot about 36″ under a strike indicator. We tried a few streamers with a sink tip and had some follows, but the nymphs were far better for consistent action.

In all honesty we lost count of how many fish came in the boat after about an hour. The day was somewhere between a slaughter and a bloodbath.

TWRA has stocked some extra large fish lately as well. They are big but they also lived their whole life in a hatchery so these fish probably won’t fight so hard as the smaller scrappers who grow up in the river.

I’ve almost forgotten how pretty the Hiwassee is since it’s completely inside the Cherokee National forest and there’s absolutely no development on the best sections of the river.

On Sunday I fished my home water on Little River inside the park. Even though it’s absolutely the closest water to me it’s been freezing cold for weeks and even been iced over in many spots. After a little mild weather things looked better, but the water was just barely 40 degrees.

Fishing Elkmont

Typical cool and wet February conditions in the Smokies

Fishing was more or less as I expected…. slow. We managed to land three average rainbows over a few hours and missed a few more. Not exactly an incredible round of fishing but certainly worth getting out and spending time on the river.

If you have a full plate of work to get done, by all means, get it done now! This sketchy pattern will continue through this week as flows on the tailwaters are OK if you’re in the right place at the right time, but the weather will definitely be a factor. If history is any indicator we should be 3 weeks or less from the start of the REALLY good stuff.

Hang in there because it’s on the way.