Late Summer Fishing Report from the Smokies and East Tennessee

August is here and it somehow doesn’t feel quite like late summer. The kids started school this week, we’ve seen relatively mild temperatures with a few mornings registering 59 degrees on the porch, and it seems like TVA has really bumped the flows on the big rivers. It’s feeling more like fall than summer, but we still have plenty of summer left.

A late summer scene in the Smoky Mountain backcountry

While water levels are a little on the low side, it’s essentially what we expect in August. Water temperatures in most locations are in the low to mid 60’s with really high elevation streams even down in the high 50’s. Many anglers will check the water temperatures on the USGS guages like the one on Little River and panic when they see daily water temperatures above 70, but that’s at a really low elevation where trout are rare and smallmouth and redeyes the predominant species.

A good looking Smoky brown trout

All the basic flies are working pretty well right now. There’s not really much in the way of regular hatches to match, but you’ll probably see a few golden stoneflies buzzing around along with there nymph husks on the boulders. That makes a dropper rig composes of a Stimulator with a #16 beadhead of your choice a pretty good way to go. While that works pretty well we usually end up with our old standby, a #14 or #16 Parachute Adams. It never seems to be wrong in the backcountry.

The float scene has been up and down. Flows have entered their late summer erratic unpredictability with a dramatic jump in discharge from Norris and Cherokee Dams. To be honest, it’s been a weird year for floats. We lost the best weeks of the float season in April and May due to a wet spring that contributed to exceptionally high flows. There have been some great days in the drift boat, but there have been some tough ones as well. In spite of that we’ve managed to get some great fish in the net.

Michael White caught this 19″ Clinch rainbow on a streamer

Master fly tyer Jim Andress boated this impressive Holston River smallmouth on one of his own popping bugs

Cooler days of autumn are closing in even though we undoubtedly still have some heat ahead of us. We’re on the downhill slide now as the days are slowly getting shorter and we’re noticing the game becoming more active as black cherries are getting ripe and oak limbs are beginning to sag with growing acorns. We’re looking forward to fall but not quite done with summer.

This black bear strolled by R&R World Headquarters in Townsend last week