View Full Version : The South Holston beat me up and stole my lunch money

AL trout bum
10-25-2011, 10:26 AM
A buddy from work asked me last Tuesday if I wanted to fish up around Tennessee and North Carolina over the weekend. I didn't even need to think about it. We left at 2am Saturday morning and headed due north. At around 7am, we arrive to buy some flies and get some intel on the river.
It was extremely foggy most of the morning.
It didn't take long for the fog to burn off and opened uo to one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever had the pleasure of fishing.
We were told that it would be around 11am (eastern time) before the water they were releasing that morning would make it to where we were fishing. So we hit the water and immediately noticed a few risers. We both kept working downstream with no luck. I had on a small stimulator fly with a small gray zebra midge dropper. After a while we noticed the water was moving a lot faster. Suddenly rocks that were easily visible were not anymore. We noticed a drift boat banking across the river and the guide came running towards us yelling for us to get out. Well we had already decided we needed to do that, but it wasn't that easy to move against that water, in fact I almost just gave up and let the river have me. Thankfully the guide rowed over and picked us up. His name is Patrick, a guide with Mountain Sports LTD in Bristol. Nice guy and we thanked him for saving us from a 3.5 hour wait for the water to come back down. So we decided to drive around until the water would be lower. Unfortunately, everyone else was there too. At least the scenery was nice.
This experience alone made the trip for me. A lot of you guys might think this is no big deal, but for a newbie like me, and my first time seeing this with my own eyes, it was awesome. To preface, we get to the water and there are lots of insects hatching. We find a spot among the other fisherman and begin casting to the dozens of rising fish. I am not sure if these were blue wing olives or sulphurs. Some of you that know feel free to identify these bugs for me. Fish were clearing the water hitting these bugs. I saw some nice size rainbows (~16in) and browns leaping which further made me extremely antsy to hook up. However, they weren't touching my fly. I even watched them not only reject my fly, but swim out of the way of my fly as if it was kryptonite. I eventually had a few hits, but kept missing the strike.
My fly (sz16)
There were fish jumping a few feet from me. It's like they were teasing me, and they knew it. I can't describe how many fish were jumping/rising, but as soon as I would cast in the area of one, one would jump over there. So I played the "cast to every fish" game to no avail for an hour or so. Then finally I managed to connect with a little brown that slammed my fly, clearing the water.
That was my only fish, and I didn't see anyone else catching that many either. So, we decided to break for lunch and headed out to try a new spot.
We fished here until dusk, and after getting up at 1am, fishing all day, and being extremely hungry, we decided to call it a day.
Had a great dinner at a place called Cootie Brown's in Johnson City, TN.

AL trout bum
10-25-2011, 10:29 AM
The next day we opted against getting spanked by the South Holston again and decided to try somewhere else. We headed to a river that my buddy grew up fishing in North Carolina.
This is right outside of Asheville, and is where my buddy learned to fly fish. I am amazed at how scenic this river is and jealous that people live so close to this. http://i1114.photobucket.com/albums/k534/mrl0004/16.jpg
So for this stream I tied on a BHHE and caught this little guy out of a pretty fast riffle.
After that fish, I didn't have much luck. So I decided to look around under rocks to see what they might be eating.
Again, feel free to ID these. I have no clue.

AL trout bum
10-25-2011, 10:33 AM
Some more scenery:
After lunch we decide to change locations, hoping for better fishing. Again, the scenery was stunning. The fishing, S L O W.
This was more of a mountain stream. Reminded me of the SMNP. It was extremely quiet and peaceful, nothing but the sound of running water. Them all of a sudden, it sounded like a sasquatch was running down the hill. Not gonna lie, I was a little freaked out. Finally, what was causing all the commotion comes into view.
Of course they run right through the nice pool I had been eyeing upstream from me. :evil:
I missed a huge strike further upstream. Of course the one millisecond I look away, that's when the fish strikes. We fish up a good ways and I decide to take a break and just watch the water for a while.
I eventually came to this HUGE pool (relative to the rest of this river).
I saw a few risers and never could get a strike on my dry. The only thing I saw was extremely small midges that I couldn't match anyways. I also noticed a nice size brown cruising around. Maybe around 15" or so. I tied on a smaller streamer and had several hits, but couldn't connect. It was getting dark so we decided to hike out and call it quits.
So if you measure success by the number of fish caught, I failed. If you measure it by the experiences you had, lessons learned and sights you saw, it was a huge success. 8)

10-25-2011, 10:49 AM
The SoHo (that one's for you waterwolf) is a magical place! You really should have gone into the local fly shop for some flies. The insect hatches there are so prolific that the fish really know what they are looking for, and if you don't match it perfectly you can be out of luck. The yellow bugs were sulphurs, and I have had to go through 5 different size 18 patterns before I found one that worked. I would also have a good stock of BWO's. I think you were wasting time with a stimulator, and I have found the midge fishing there to be excellent as well.

Thanks for an excellent report on your weekend. The pictures are great. Thanks for sharing

AL trout bum
10-25-2011, 11:38 AM
You really should have gone into the local fly shop for some flies. The insect hatches there are so prolific that the fish really know what they are looking for, and if you don't match it perfectly you can be out of luck.

We did go to the fly shop there, just didn't want to mention it on another fly shop's board! :redface: I used mainly the sulphur flies I bought there. There were the same size and color as the flies I managed to catch and look at. I think my drift was less than stellar. The stimulator was only used before we found a hatch. I should have had the sulphur on as a locator instead of the stimi first thing though. Oh well, I'll know better next time! Thanks for the comment!

10-25-2011, 12:35 PM
The South Holston is amazing for hatch activity.

If you find a feeding lie that has fish rising/taking surface bugs; use your dry sulphur and use a high-arch forward cast to land the dry fly right in the middle of the rise. These seems to create a trigger effect and most takes come within seconds of landing. If not; just reset the cast with no additional mechanics besides a new cast.

Be sure to note if they are hitting dries or emergers. This is the difference between 1-3 fish and 15-20 fish. Most of the time they will be hitting emergers.

Also; be sure to

apply good flotant often to your dries and
to give them just a little twitch every know and then to entice a strike. Dry fly fishing is my favorite and the S. Holston is great for it...
be mindful of tippet memory and condition as this will distract the fish while viewing a fly. Good/clean knots are key. Use longer tippet sections than nymph fishing. I like a 4-6' tippet for this type of casting. Beware of the back lash of the fly when casting.
also; make sure your fly line gets stretched out (you can do this with a tree if you do not have a hitch-ball handy) before you get on the river to reduce any drag conditions. I like to slick the last 10' or so of my fly line with some grease-flotant.

10-25-2011, 05:45 PM
Kind of what Madisonboats were hinting at, emergers. Partridge&Yellow soft hackle probably would have done the trick. At least it works for me in those kind of situations.