The Summer Pattern

So far things are essentially what you would expect when fly fishing in June in East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains. We’re seeing they typical mid to high 80’s temperatures along with enough humidity to trigger afternoon thunderstorms. Most of East Tennessee has been pretty dry but the mountains have seen the bulk of the rainfall over the past month.

A beautiful day on the stream in the Smokies

A beautiful day on the stream in the Smokies

Most streams in the Smokies and surrounding national forests are in good shape, but the Little River watershed is a standout when it comes to being below normal. There’s enough rain falling high in the mountains to keep the fish healthy, but the lower water is making it tough to fool them. You’ll need to be sure to focus your efforts on broken water and use all the natural cover you can to stay out sight so the fish don’t see you. There are also plenty of streams around to fish with flows right around average for this time of year, so don’t feel compelled to go to the hardest place to catch fish.

This is the time of year when we tend to either hike into the backcountry to fish, travel to higher elevations, or focus on smallmouth bass in the low elevation streams so there are plenty of places to find good fishing. That’s especially true when it comes to the tailwater rivers this summer.

Tailwater Rainbow In Net

A solid tailwater rainbow in the net

The Clinch, South Holston, Watauga, and Holston Rivers all have flows that are providing for plenty of wading opportunities. In fact, it’s been a tough year to float on the Clinch and South Holston up to this point. This week TVA will begin running one generator on the Clinch for a few hours a day. This can make for superb floating, but the generator will probably fire up late enough in the day to allow for plenty of good wading as well.

The relatively dry weather we’ve seen lately has hit the Holston and Clinch watershed particularly hard and reservoirs in those systems just don’t have much water available for TVA to generate through the turbines on the dams. The water coming out of the dams is plenty cold and the fish are in no jeopardy, but don’t expect much in the way of high water on these rivers this summer unless there’s a dramatic change in the weather pattern.