Though not everyone is willing to brave the chilling fall weather to fish, those who are can often be rewarded for doing so. Yesterday, guide Joe Kostura and I decided to do so, and boy did it pay dividends. Upon pulling up to the boat ramp in the morning, we were already seeing dozens of fish feeding up top on midges left and right. This was encouraging as we could definitely feel the chill in the air. Between seeing all of this early activity and knowing that we are moving into spawning season, we knew it was going to be a good day.
Almost immediately, we hooked into the first fish of the day. Nothing to write home about, but a beautiful wild rainbow. After about a dozen rainbows between 6-10 inches, we finally got into the first big fish of the day, an 18 inch brooder that put up a great fight! A couple quick pics followed by a safe release and we were back in action. So far, the key had been egg patterns and midges. After landing several more rainbows and a few browns, finally a big, mean, old brown is on the line that we were eventually able to get in the bot. The day had officially been made! 20 inches of thick, juicy, Watauga River butta! This fish had some beautiful fall colors and was exactly what we were searching for. A few photos later, we got him back in the water to hopefully make another future anglers day!
All in all, the fall fishing is seriously heating up on the tailwaters with the fish getting ready to spawn, and hungrier than ever. We highly recommend giving us a call to book your trip to get out while the gettin’ is good!
With the cooler temperatures and the local waters freshly stocked, the local fishing has really heated up here in the Highcountry! Local delayed harvest waters can be very productive this time of year and will only continue to improve as they begin stocking them again in the beginning of November! Productive patterns in these waters this time of year tend to be nymphs and midges, as the cooler weather greatly reduces the number of hatches we see on the surface.
Zug bugs, prince nymphs and pheasant tails are all great go to nymphs, as well zebra midges in colors such as black, purple and olive. However, on warmer afternoons, do be on the lookout for the occasional midges or Blue Winged Olive coming off as this can really get those fish moving. (Also, don’t forget your squrimy worms!!)
Additionally, be sure to have split shots along with you since water levels will begin to rise as temperatures drop and we will see less and less ground water being absorbed from our streams. This means you may need a little extra weight to help get your flies down into the strike zone.
Finally, always be sure to wear warm enough clothing, especially when wading on colder days, and use caution when wading in deeper, faster currents to help avoid any dangerous situation.
As always, have fun out there, and tight lines!
The fishing has only been getting better over the past few weeks as fall is finally starting to kick in around the Highcountry. The spike in rainfall and drop in temperatures can only mean it’ll get better in the coming days. Cooler water is starting to get the fish moving more and the discoloration left from all the rain should lead to takes from even some of the more finicky fish. It’s also finally that time of year where you can dust off that streamer rod and break out the wooly buggers and sculpzillas as we are definitely starting to see some more aggressive strikes, especially over on the East Tennessee tailwaters of both the South Holston and Watauga. Specifically on high water on an overcast and/ or rainy day, this can be a very effective tactic to move some massive fish. It may not always get you big numbers, but after chucking streamers for hours in the rain earlier this week, I was rewarded with the fish of a lifetime; a 24.5 inch brown. It may be a lot of work, but sticking with streamers in the right conditions can certainly pay dividends.
If that’s not cutting it, deep nymph rigs with an attractor fly and a dropper midge below that can also induce a lot of takes from pickier wild browns and rainbows. On lower water, fishing a hopper dropper can also be a great tactic this year. Fishing two nymphs below a bulky foam hopper pattern is always a fan favorite, and who doesn’t like seeing a trophy trout come up and sip and giant terrestrial pattern? So be sure to stop by and pick up all the necessities, whether it’s for the local delayed harvest waters, the the tailwaters in Tennessee. We’ve got it all.
Bugs of choice: