View Full Version : Powell River

03-22-2012, 10:43 AM
Anyone ever fish the Powell River above Norris Lake? I was camping by it earlier this week. It was too high and swift for fishing but curious about it.

Someone told me it was full of smallmouth. I've never river fished for smallies. Any advice? Flies? I appreciate direction anyone is willing to give.


03-22-2012, 02:10 PM
I have never fished the Powell, but from what I've read about it, it does has lots of smallmouth and rockbass. I think that since it is located in a more remote area, it receives a lot less pressure, and I'm sure not many fly fishers.
TWRA does have one boat access point on the river and I read that most bridge crossings and some roads along the river, have access pullouts.
since it is a free flowing river , it is controlled by the weather. a hard rain upstream would no doubt blow it out for several days.
There are a few guys (non- fly fisherman) on east tn fishing forum that occasionaly post a report on the Powell.

I would take the usual flies and a 5- 8wt rod., bass leader and 2x tippet, black , yellow, and white poppers in size 4, some green/white and white/white clousers, weighted buggers in black, brown, olive and maybe some zuddlers for something a little different.
This is one of those east tn rivers I want to eventually float and fish myself. good luck and keep us posted how you do.

03-23-2012, 02:17 PM
Thanks Troutman! It will probably be a little bit before we're back there again. I have a friend with some private property up there so the nice thing is that I have some access others would not. I hope to fish it later in the spring. I've never river fished for smallies so that sounds like it could make for some really fun times.

Do smallies hang out and move like trout in the river or are they on the move like the are in lakes? I don't know anything about their river habits.

When I get back up there, I'll let you know how I do.

03-23-2012, 03:27 PM
DanielMc, BE CAREFUL! Fly Fishing for Smallies is is quite addictive! I have found that Smallmouth like to hang out near structure like next to the bank. I usually fish from the middle of the river to toward the banks.

I have not fished the Powell before, but I did get to float the upper Clinch a few years ago and it was a blast. Let us know how you do.


03-23-2012, 04:09 PM
I've never river fished for smallies so that sounds like it could make for some really fun times.

Do smallies hang out and move like trout in the river or are they on the move like the are in lakes? I don't know anything about their river habits.

There is a lot of great resources in books and videos online for learning more about FF for smallies and how they live within the streams. I look for calmer water below riffles, boulders and rocky bottoms (crayfish), grassy banks (minnows), any streamside structure, logs and depressions to deeper water.
In very slow water, fish the bubble lines and shady banks.

I think one of the best local videos on fishing with poppers is from Ian and Charity.

One of the things I do differently, is that I like to fish downstream rather than casting upstream as you would for trout. I feel I can get a better presentation this way.
It is fun fishing. not something that you need a lot of flies and rods for. A basic box with some poppers in size 8-4, some streamers for deeper water and early spring fishing, leader and spool of tippet. Many days , I just hang a few flies on my lanyard, with a nipper and tippet and wade the stream. no flybox or net.

03-23-2012, 04:15 PM
Thanks troutman! That's a lot of helpful information. I'll check out the youtube video sometime soon.

No Hackle
03-24-2012, 10:51 AM
Daniel, listen to Gary. While I fish differently than Gary. I still target the same places. Don't pass up the riffles, while they usually don't very large fish. It will act as a nurcery for the smaller fish and can be a blast. I usually look at areas with an area with current next to a dead zone or slack water. Those SM can also act like trout so don't disregard what you have learned about trout. Listen to Gary and you'll be fine he has always shared what he knows and has helped many people freely.

03-26-2012, 01:21 PM
You guys have been great. I appreciate it. Can't wait to try it out.

03-29-2012, 11:11 PM
I have spent more than a few days on the Powell from the VA border all the way to lake, and can say that the best days of the Powell are long gone unfortunately. Something happened about 7 years ago and the fishing went in the tank. The first thing is the amount of pressure went off the charts. Some idiots posted a bunch or reports and pictures from there on a couple of forums, the crowds descended on the river. It is very small and may not have been able to withstand the pressure.

The second major thing that happened was back to back floods during peak spawning, and those who have seen the Powell or know it at all, know it has very little good structure to break the current, and is almost a ditch. The recruitment was horrible, and thus numbers of smallmouth went in the ditch after those events.

I used to love the Powell because it was small, remote, and the fishing was worth the h***le of almost no take outs/ put ins. However, I spend maybe 1 day a year there anymore, and as most here know I fish for smallmouth almost exclusively from June 1 through September.

It might seem remote and untouched, but gets a ton of local pressure, and also people coming out of VA/KY to fish it as well. The BBQ joint also runs canoe trips daily on it, so the crowds can get out of hand quickly.

Not trying to be negative, but there are better places to smallmouth fish in this state other than the Powell IMO. If you are targeting redeyes, then it is loaded with them, literally more than anyone probably ever wants to catch in a lifetime.

Gary is right about the simplicity of smallmouth, I can go to the river and carry 2 flies, a spool of tippet, and nothing else and fish all day.

I am happy to offer any river advice you need, there isn't a smallmouth river in this state I haven't combed over more times than I can count, so if you need other info let me know.