View Full Version : Soho 11-05-2006

11-06-2006, 02:36 AM
We made what seemed to be an impossible trek to the South Holston leaving around 7:30 this morning. The suggestion being made the night prior, left little time to prepare. I spent the latter half of last night tying a dozen and a half midges for the trip until around 2am this morn so my father and I would have the proper arsenal of nymphs. We knew they were generating untill 11am so we figured we would have until around 12 till we could wet a line. So, we figured we would head up and see if we could find a local fly shop. This is where it get's funny! I made a post last night regarding Mahoney's Sporting Goods in Johnson city and hoping they would have what we needed. Well, lets just say that they may have had what we needed had they been open. So, we traveled from there to Fly Fishermans Inc. (I believe thats right), also closed. Finding the nearest yellow pages directory was our next option. Stopped at a convienent store nabbed the yellow pages starting calling, no one, I mean no one any where answered the phone. The only thought going through our heads was, heres the pun, another suggestion for you, Byron, why don't you all open a fly shop out near the Holston. You'd prob make your first million on your new store your first Sunday morn! This became even funnier as the day progressed finally making to the Holson and seeing close to 50 vehicles all of which were fly fisherman! I think everyone had done there homework and knew prior to have what they needed.
We parked at the the wier and walked the trail down to the first available spot. I had already tied midges on that immediately required taking off due to a large sulpher hatch coming off the water. My father followed behind wetting his line first. Probably, no more than two or three cast he caught a 12" or 13" brown! I quickly tied on and made my first cast. I knew it was going to be a good day! Two more casts and a good 10" bow! While my father was snapping pictues, with his rod in his arm and line behind him, he gets a tug on his line leading to an accidentily caught fish. Well, catching a fish is no accient he still had to reel it in! We couldn't stop smiling with grins plastered on our faces! Amazing! This continued on for what seemed to be a good 2 hours. Catching somewhere around 20+ fish out of a 60 yrd section of water! Simply amazing after some many short comings at the Clinch. Hooked and landed a 14", or so, bow and couldn't have been better! We attempted in changing flys to a different variations of sulfer's but it seemed none performed like the first we tied on! Which was a little strange because my father was fishing an emerger and I was fishing a dry!
We left from our glory hole and headed above the weir where we found another sweet spot landing another 10+ fish. This is simply an amazing tailwater, to fish an unknown river system with very little knowledge of it and do so well. Later in the evening around 4 or 4:30 we switched to BWO's and and some success and figured out to late we were in the wrong spot! We fished one other location not far from the wier with sulfers with good success until around 5:30 when we decided to call it a day!

It made us wish we lived a little closer so we could fish it a little more often!
Oh, and Byron we do have pictures we will be sending just having a little e-mail conflict at the moment!

Thanks again for the advice,

And for some one wanting to open a small business,get rich, become a millionare, open a fly shop a little closer to the S. Holston, and have it open on the weekends! I'm sure there would be some good money made! ;)

11-06-2006, 02:58 PM
Actually, The Flyshop of Tennessee is one of my favorite shops. I don't blame Eddie if he was closed. Especially on Sunday.

11-08-2006, 12:39 AM
I don't blame the man either! Gotta leave a day to get out on the stream himself! But, in all fairness a man that opened his shop 7 days a week in that area would prob make a killing! Wish we could have seen the shop. It looked nice from the outside. Which leads to another funny comment, my dads reply when he found out they were closed was, "Did you notice any alarm co. stickers?" ;D We were both past frustrated at that point! Neither one of us had actually checked each others fly boxes to see what we had. After a final stop at Wally world we finnally got the idea to look. Finnally realizing we actually had what we needed! I think poor planning on that aspect got the best of us! But, on a whims notice, and a three hour trek to the tailwater and many stops along the way led to some good fly fishing. We are already planning another trip this weekend and will be sure to make a trip by LRO to pick up what we need before we head out, like everyone else up there that day had done! Opps! We learn from our mistakes and we won't make that mistake again! We'll probably make it back up there Sunday again, looks like it'll be raining hope the fishing is even better!

Question for you all who may know? Why is there such a good population of mainly sulfers and other equatic insects at the SOHO? Is it do to the Wier system they have in place? And, secondly, if that particular wier system is responsible for the flourishing aquatic life, why is it not in place at every tailwater? I would think that a self sustaining brown trout and rainbow trout population would be enough alone to to make TWRA officials and TVA officials to put it in place. It seems like a large expense today but I'm sure it would pay dividends in the long run. Does the wier have any effect on insect population, or is this just enviornment specific! We didn't get to drive around too much but from what we saw it didn't look to be nearly as populated or industrial as most other tailwaters in our region. Is this part of the reasoning behind the fishery there?

Any insight would be appreciated? Hugh I'd appreciate a lil help here? I know your up there all the time! ;)
Oh and one other question! Where is another good place to fish there for future reference?

Hugh Hartsell
11-08-2006, 08:07 AM
:) Good morning Brett, I'm going to step out on a limb here and give some thoughts about what you've asked and I'm sure there are some others on the board that can add just as much to this situation as I can and I sure want to hear from them as well. As flyfishermen, I think that all of us would like to see the type of fishery in all of our tailwaters as what you experienced at the South Holston River. It won't take you long to find out that TVA and TWRA have goals that sometimes do not even come close to each other. The problem also goes back for many, many years as well. Heavy generation, low oxygen levels caused by not having a method for placing depleted oxygen back into the water when it was released from the lake, and just plain old not really caring about the fishery below the dams caused the insect levels of some species to almost become extinct. The fact that the South Holston River is small and only has one generator has helped in not completely scouring the bottom and therefore still provides a suitable habitat for the Sulfur. The Clinch River comes to mind when you compare the two different systems and how they've been handled. There was apparently a good population of insects there just a few years ago and now, it's hard to find a decent hatch of them. Most would say that it was caused by heavy, excessive generation which scoured the silt and gravel from the bottom and took away the breeding area for these insects. This is an area that TVA and TWRA are very far apart on when it comes to their methods for controlling the water flows. The fish suffer. Another factor that has come into play on the South Holston River is a Slot Limit. This one critical factor, along with great water conditions, has helped immensely in retaining fish that help fishermen to regularly catch fish that are in the 20-30 in. range. Since we do have one great model for an example to go by, I think that it behoves us to try to get TWRA and TVA, as well as area fishermen, to work toward these types of conditions where it is possible to have some kind of common ground. We've seen some great work take place in the GSMNP and to some extent on streams outside of the Park where Trout Unlimited and TWRA come together to achieve a goal. It would be great to get more cooperation from TVA on this matter. I look forward to hearing from others.
Hugh Hartsell---East Tn.

11-08-2006, 01:20 PM
Thanks for your reply! I hadn't thought of current being a factor but it does make sense, and now I see the TVA and TWRA conflict fish vs. power. It's obvious to say which brings more revenues and it's also obvious to see why this system isn't in place in every tailwater! If such a tailwater was in place fisherman would have to give up fishing times, due to twice as much generation to keep up with energy needs in tailwaters. Which in some like the clinch would make it almost unfishable! I see now what really has the effect on the insect population. More food equals more fish less food equals less fish. I'd like to know whats being done about this! Water side studys and some action taking place would be nice to know about. I can see it is quite the dillema though. I've also seen the effects of heavy generation on tailwaters such as the Clinch. I'd imagine this effects the bottom on which ever river system until it reaches portions of the river that are deep or deeper than the rest of the tailwater, not effecting the bottom as much! Would a wier system in place at a tailwater such as the Clinch have any effect on it's tailwater, and does certain insects have a specific location or depth of water in which they reside? I'm guessing they do, making a good explaination for anglers catching larger fish on float trips in deeper water. Amongst the obvios, do the bigger trout make it to deeper water for that reason, or is it simply for cover purposes?

Your a great brain to pick, and thanks for the info Hugh!

Hugh Hartsell
11-08-2006, 01:58 PM
:) Brett, there are some other factors that play into this whole scenario of getting an ideal tailwater. Flood control is the biggest and it goes all the way back to the building of the TVA DAMS. Heavy generation is not just something that takes place because of power needs. A policy set in place many years ago by TVA stated that the required levels for flood control on many of the larger dams would require emptying the reservoirs to a winter level and this usually starts in July or August. There is also the spilling of water during wet periods. To accomplish this, TVA really turns a lot of water thru the dam for extended periods to attain these predetermined levels. This is where the heavy damage comes in that causes the scouring of the rivers downstream. The area that we would like to see some changes in, is to simply slow down the drawdowns of the lakes in the late summer to a slower pace and I feel that just accomplishing this one feat would make a world of difference in all the area tailwaters. It is also an area that we have not made any headway with TVA at all. They have their reasons and we have ours. You can see who prevails :'(
Anyway, I hope this has answered some of your questions and I hope that it gives you some thoughts upon which you can work toward in the future. I hope to see you on the stream some day.
Hugh Hartsell---East Tn.

11-08-2006, 02:36 PM
Sure scouring has some negative effects but the Clinch has been running strong for a long time. Look at Bull Shoals dam in Arkansas. Seems that they have something like 10-12 generators on the White River. Isn't it still one of the best in the south as far as insect and fish production? If what you guys are discussing is true, then wouldn't the White be scoured to nothing? It rises 14-20ft.

I think the Clinch has other issues. btw, there is a weir on the Clinch, too. The two biggest reasons for a weir is oxygen and to keep the riverbed watered during periods of no generation. Both are better for aquatic life. From what I understand, the Clinch has been a part of a capacity study for some time. That, and the occurence of D. Geminata, I believe, have temporarily changed things on the river. Of course you have things like increased fishing pressure and siltation, as well. Just a few years ago the Clinch was producing trout, especially rainbows, just as good as the South Holston. I'm hoping things will return to normal there, soon.

What helps the South Holston be one of the best in Tennessee? It's fertility, size, oxygen, slot limit, and the fact that fishing is good on high and low water. D. Geminata showed up on the South Holston in 2004. Sulfur hatches weren't effected in 2005 but from what I hear they were this year. Also, sulfur hatches are best on the upper river, right where the D. Geminata growth is worse. In my opinion, mayflies need clean, unsilted, fertile, water to be prolific. They've been getting that on the South Holston until a couple of years ago. Hopefully this stuff is just temporary. If it's not, I fear the worst.

If you want a real expert opinion on the South Holston then you should get in contact with Scott Lewis. Scott has a biology degree and he lives minutes from the river. Scott ownes Alpha Trout Outfitters. I have several reports that I'm willing to share if you'll send me a pm. Take some time to know the real river behind the stockers (mostly) you caught.

11-08-2006, 04:09 PM
An interesting topic non the less! I did a google search on Bull Shoals tailwater looks big, at least 2 to 3 times as big as the Clinch! I have never personally had much luck on the Clinch, maybe thats the reasoning behind the new bias! It seems like the Clinch can be alot like the smokies! It can be technical! I didn't have much time to look into the particulars about Bull Shoals but from what i read it's deep to. I wouldn't say I'm new to the sport, but until the recent trip to the soho, I didn't think the sport on any tailwater would be that productive! Both my father and I have had better than good days in the mountains with brooks and bows, but to say again we've both spent good time on the Clinch with less than favorable success! There is probably something we don't know about the clinch that would help this matter, like fishing midges! Neither of us have had much success nymphing! Althought that being said weve had exceptional days doing nothing but nymphing. I am interested in the reports, so send um to me! There is definately a difference in the fishing between the two. I'd like to figure out what it is, and after much thought there definately is a difference insect population, specifically sulfers. There were more hatching there in early november than in the mountains in summer! We also watched the largest hatch of BWO's come off the water I had ever seen! Whether it's the enviornment or the generation of water scouring the bottom it's definately worth TWRA looking into! A better fishery produces, better fishing, producing more fisherman! I noticed you said that the fish were mostly stockers, most of the bows we caught were exceptional in color some of the browns too. However the smaller browns appeared to be rather dumb, biting anything you threw at them!

It will be an interesting topic to see people post there thoughts on! I'm sure we would all love to know a for sure reason to help fix the problem!


11-08-2006, 05:11 PM
The Clinch and it's Sulphurs. In 1998 there was severe flooding in Virgina and they ran the Clinch wide open for along time, seems a couple of months, actually had to spill over the dam for maybe the second time since the dam was built. The Clinch with two turbines flows about ~ 6-8,000 cfs. Someone of you can correct me, I know some know more abou it than I. Anyway when I mean flooding I mean "blowing and going"!: 27,000-32,000 cfs. The sulphurs were gone the next year. Used to love to fish that hatch, I fish the Clinch very little anymore so my info about current conditions is second hand. When I have fished recently the fish have been smallish. You used to count on a nice fish any time you went 15" or better. There are obviously some big browns living in the slow pools, most of which you need a boat to access.

Alot of politicis around the Clinch keep the regs from being more favorable.

11-08-2006, 11:14 PM
Information can be exhausting to convey so I'm going to keep this short. ;) Brett, smart money would go to a trip with a knowledgable guide. It will cut the guessing game down a lot. I am not trying to sell you a trip, I'm trying to save you a lot of fishless trips. The best way to fish the Clinch is with a boat. It's big water and there's a lot of places for fish to go. The Clinch isn't the same as it was 3-4 years ago but it still has good fish in it. I'm hoping this is just a cycle it's going through. I've moved fish on the Clinch that would turn your hair white. The Clinch and South Holston are almost entirely different.

Yes, most, if not all, of the rainbows you caught on the South Holston were stockers. TWRA quit stocking browns so they were most likely wild. Don't let this get you down, though. I was up there fishing the first mile or so this past September and had a blast catching those stocker rainbows. I fished one run and caught maybe 40. For a while, I was sticking a fish on every drift. Like I was telling you before though, get to know the REAL South Holston. Spend some time exploring it. It's loaded with wild fish but catching them can be tricky. Also, don't be fooled by the sulfurs coming off throughout the year. The real hatch occurs in June and July, and it can be incredible. Winter is baetis, midge, scud, and blackfly time, though!

11-11-2006, 11:42 PM
I've been reading all the post on hatches and high water. It is all very interesting, the thoughts on what may cause this and that. I've gotten into this conversation with some of the guys I fish with several times. I was fortunate enough to discover the Clinch in the early nineties, several years before the trophy regulations were taken off the stream. The sulphur hatch here was fantastic. Big fish,making the most audible `gulp`, I've ever heard. Great dry fly fishing. Sadly, as time went by after the reg's were taken off, you could slowly see the decline in quality fish. Way too many people dragging stringers around. Some years after that, I remember the high water. One of the guys I know said, "look at the bottom of the river, then look up in the branches of the trees." What he was trying to say was that the grass that was on the bottom, was now in the tree branches after all the high water. I remember how many mayfly nymphs were in a fistful of grass, along with scuds and sowbugs, midge larva,etc. It was a while before I could accept that the quality of the river had really diminished, at least for the fly fisherman. I'm sure there are still some good ones in there. This past summer, I made the trip up to see how the fishing was. Caught numerous smaller fish on nymphs that day. What I remember most is that there seemed to be a dead looking slime across a lot of the river bottom, something I really did not remember seeing before. Saw one sulphur the entire day, in early June. As far as the regs, I was told that they were removed due to some landowner confrontations??.......that thishad been a very devisive decision to put the regs in to begin with. I know its a shame, a western quality fishery is a mere shadow of its self.
I'm amazed by the reports of the sulphurs going way into fall, heavy hatch or not. I've picked the last week of May next year as a vacation week. I hope that if I get to head up to the SoHo, I won't be too early for the main hatch.

11-12-2006, 03:19 PM

You're right on with your statements about the Clinch. "A mere shadow of itself". That's the 100% truth right there. I think its a combination of the regs, the capacity study, D. Geminata, and the flooding. Mother nature has a way of repairing herself so lets hope the Clinch returns to it's former glory.

May is a little early for the sulfurs up on the SoHo but you'll probably get to fish a small hatch of them. The thickest hatch occurs the last few weeks of June thru the first two weeks of July. Give or take a week or so. If TVA is generating during this time (with normal rainfall they probably will be) do yourself a favor and find a boat ride. You'll thank me later. :D ;)

David Knapp
11-12-2006, 03:29 PM
If TVA is generating during this time (with normal rainfall they probably will be) do yourself a favor and find a boat ride.

RFowler, is the SoHo a river that you could float in a canoe or would it be too rough? I'm probably going up for my first trip there (wading) over one of the upcoming holidays but your mention of the excellent summer fishing on high water has me thinking of the possiblities for next year.

11-12-2006, 09:29 PM

Never heard of D.Geminata.....what exactly is that?


11-12-2006, 11:30 PM
Hey Plat Angler,
We made another trip back to the Soho today, hooked up on some good fish, a little slow. Non the less we hooked up on some fish, the largest being around 15" or so. *In reference to your canoe question I think it's definately possible to float the Soho in a canoe while generating. *We started out about a half a mile from the wiers and fished until the generator kicked in. *The water comes up pretty fast just down from the dam to where we were! *We were actually in the process of taking a picture of a brown when the water started rising. *We packed up and headed downstream about 2 to 3 miles to the road section to get some more fishing in. *We stayed there for another hour or so and the generated water finally hit. *We actually talked about how the water seemed to slow down quite tremendously at the road section. *However that being said, on the trip to the wier before fishing the same section of water (the road section) seemed to be moving pretty swiftly. *We weren't sure if they were pulsing the water in the afternoon and in the morning when we arrived they had run a full generator. *We have made it up there 2 times so I'm not 100% sure but it certainly looked like a devoted fly fisher with his trusty canoe could do pretty well! *I'd definately check with the other guys to make sure, but I do know one thing for sure, it's absolutely a great trout fishery and gorgeous scenery. *We learned alot more about the tailwater today and some other good sections to fish. *I wish we would have had a little extra time to spend exploring today, but we learn as we go....Definately makes things a little more interesting!

Good luck and plan a trip soon! *Hope to catch you around!

Hugh and Russ thanks for the help from My dad and I!


11-13-2006, 12:43 AM
mstone, Do a search on D. Geminata (or didymo) on google. We first started noticing didymo on the South Holston in 2004, about the same time they noticed the stuff in New Zealand. There are several theories out but no one seems to know the real story, yet. It is a natural occuring algae in high elevation streams according to some info I've read. I first started noticing it on the Clinch in the spring of 2005. It's effecting the Watauga as well. The biggest concern with this stuff seems to be that it takes over, snuffing out native aquatic plants and algaes. Thus, taking away food for aquatic insects. I didn't get the chance to fish the true sulfur hatch on the South Holton this year but from what I've been told, it was down. It could most definitely be a result of the didymo. Too early to tell, really. But, the Kiwi's are taking it very serious and are combating the problem with a copper substance. They plan to treat a tributary to an infected river very soon.

PA, I personally don't recommend floating the SH in a canoe unless you have someone to help you row. And then, both people should be very good boaters. There are two rapids that can swamp, or roll, a canoe. One is directly below Hickory Tree bridge and the other is between Hickory Tree and Big Springs road. Also, to effectively fish the sulfur hatch you need to be able to anchor your boat. The thickest hatches are on the upper river above HT bridge. If you can't anchor you'll float through it too fast.

Byron Begley
11-21-2006, 06:11 PM
My Autumn copy of "FlyFisher Magazine" just arrived. There is a four page article about didymo.
This is scary. It is serious. According to the article an angler should clean all gear after fishing in a stream known to have didymo using a 2% bleach solution or a 5% salt solution or dishwashing detergent for at least one minute. I've been hearing about the bloom on the Clinch. It's going to be up to us to keep it from spreading.