View Full Version : S. Holston, 2-10

02-10-2007, 10:12 PM
Hello all, hope that everyone managed to stay warm on a cold saturday. My uncle (swipper_74) and i decided earlier in the week that we needed to go fishing this weekend before his new baby comes in a couple weeks and decided that with the temperatures being so cold, we would be better off trying our hand at the s. holston for our first time on any tailwater. After talking to hugh hartsell, we met up with him this morning to try something new. Very soon it became known that ice in the guides was our biggest obstacle of the day.

They were generating from 7-11 so we walked down the trail a little ways and when we got to our spot we waited for the water levels to drop for a few minutes. After conversing for awhile and getting a few tips from hugh, we started wading out in the water once it became manageable. Hugh gave me a fly to tie on and immediately, i think the second cast, i had a nice fish come up from the bottom and take my fly, but i was a little slow on the take. Soon afterwards, all three of us waded out into the water and my uncle was the first to land a fish and he caught several right away. We were all using flies that hugh had tied up and soon we all began to get strikes pretty regularly. Things were going good, but not great, so hugh switched up flies and that was the ticket! He immediately caught several nice fish and we decided that we all needed to catch nice fish, so we switched and i immediately caught two nice fish. About 1, we were all cold enough and hungry enough to grab something to eat and let the ice melt out of our guides.

After grabbing a bite to eat and warming up a bit, we headed downstream to fish the wild section of the river where the water was still up a little bit, but manageable. In the first few minutes that we were there, i had a nice, fiesty wild rainbow come up and smack my dry fly and brought it to hand. We continued upstream a bit and continued getting strikes, but for some reason we were having trouble hooking up with the fish. They were still rising and taking our flies, but all of our luck was already used up i guess. During the time we were fishing this section, we could definitely tell that the temperature was colder and that it was dropping. The ice was becoming even more of a problem than it was earlier in the morning and some numbness was beginning to take effect so we decided to call it a day and get a head start on coming home since it was a good 3 hours for us.

I would like to thank hugh for helping us out, without him our first trip fishing a tailwater stream would definitely not have been as succesful. He gave us the flies to tie on and knew exactly what the fish wanted. By the end of the day, we all ended up with a good number of fish, well over a dozen all together. Through conversing with him via email and fishing with him, hugh has never failed to get me set up with the flies that the fish seem to want at that particular time, so thank you.

Anyways, here are some pictures of the trip. Nothing too interesting happened, but alot of good fishing!


Hugh's Rainbow

My Wild Rainbow

Hugh Fishing

Another Nice Rainbow from Hugh

Wild Brown

02-10-2007, 10:46 PM
Sounds like you guys had a really great trip. When you said a 3 hour drive, is that coming from Knoxville? I really want to get up there and try that place out sometime.

David Knapp
02-10-2007, 11:01 PM
Nice report and pictures! I can't wait to get up there and fish that river again. It is truly a special place. Hopefully I'll make it that way over spring break because I wanna find some of the big browns... 8-)

02-10-2007, 11:11 PM
No, i actually live in statesville, north carolina which is just north of charlotte. It's a long drive to get anywhere in tennessee but hopefully i can make my way over there a little more this year. I think i can make some places in 2 1/2 hours if i get on it hard. It was a good trip though, especially considering that was the first time either one of us had ever been to a tailwater. Of course, having hugh with us to point us in the right direction definitely helped out, he seems to know exactly what the fish are thinking and want at any given time, maybe he was a wild rainbow in his past life.................... ;D

02-10-2007, 11:14 PM
Wild section?

No kidding, the pics look nice. The hand holding the rainbow sure looks cold. :)

Hugh Hartsell
02-11-2007, 07:55 AM
:) Craig and Shawn, it was my pleasure to get to fish with you both yesterday. What a great pair of young gentlemen! I sure didn't have to do much guidance yesterday. I just tied on flies, and pointed them to the water, and the fun began.
All that I heard from that point on was water splashing, somebody saying (fish on) and lots of laughter. That's a sign of somebody having plenty of fun.
* I do want to point out that even though these guys caught or hooked up with lots of fish, that there are some signs that you need to be aware of when you're fishing in weather this cold. Craig measured the water temp when we first began fishing and it was 42 degrees. The air temp was much colder than that and the guides were freezing up real quickly. I know some of you are going to want to hit that river or another tailwater close by. As you can see in the picture, I had so many layers of clothes on that I looked like a bear. It still didn't take too long to get cold. I pointed out to the guys that you shouldn't stay in the water much more than a couple of hours until you get out and warm yourself with some kind of hot drink or food. If you do, you will start to become slowed down in your movements and your thinking as well. This can cause you to stumble or make mistakes that you wouldn't ordinarily. You don't want to stumble or slip out in the middle of the river when the temperature is in the 30s.
* The flies were hatching off really heavily yesterday and the fish were feeding like crazy. They seemed to want a Grey Midge pattern or a CDC BWO Emerger. Sean even caught several fish on a Sulfur ComPara Dun. Go pretty small with the midge patterns (#20-24) and maybe a size#18 Sulfur.
* *Even though the weather has been cold, you can enjoy wintertime fishing. Just be safe and follow common sense rules and enjoy yourselves. Thanks again Craig and Shawn for a good day on the water.
* * Hugh Hartsell---East Tn.

Flat Fly n
02-11-2007, 10:43 AM
Does anyone know when the regs on the spawning section ends? I know it starts Nov. 1, but can't remember the ending date.

Thanks and glad you had a great time.

Flat Fly'n

swipper 74
02-11-2007, 10:43 AM
As Craig said, I would like to thank Hugh also for a very enjoyable day, advice, and guidance he supplied to Craig and myself on that chilly Saturday morning. Hugh, I hope we can do it again someday soon!

Hugh Hartsell
02-11-2007, 12:11 PM
:) FF, those spawning regulations ended on the 31st of Jan. That gives the newly spawned fish time to get off those beds and out into the river without getting trampled on by wading fishermen.
You know, we've been following this thread about TWRA Trout Management and had a ton of input from both sides of the fence. On this particular river, we have seen good sensible regulations implemented and there has been great success, both in protecting spawning areas and using slot limits to help with larger fish holdovers. Each river has it's own characteristics and downfalls, but I sure hope that all parties can come together on a sensible plan for each individual river system and get at least some of the benefits that we see in the South Holston River. What a great asset to flyfishing and the state of Tennessee.
Hugh Hartsell---East Tn.

Flat Fly n
02-11-2007, 01:40 PM
Thanks Hugh,
It seems I am 11 days too late, HA! Any observations or redd data on this year's spawn?

I fished that river before the labrinth got put in. What a difference it made as did the no fish areas when that reg. got implamented. Seems all wildlife just needs a little break and common sense now and then and we all gain from that in the long run.

Tight Lines,

appalachian angler
02-11-2007, 06:23 PM
I thought I recognized Hugh (from pictures) in the parking lot when we were gearing up yesterday! The SoHo , despite the cold weather was on fire with hatches depending on where you were at . We started at the grates and the fish kept coming up from down river to the feeding frenzy of emerging sz 22 black flies. We tore 'em up with 22 griffith's gnats and thread-bodied black emergers with a white cdc or poly wing in a 20-24. The water just boiled and the risers would even slash at 'em as the flies would literally POP straight up to the surface just as the water started to come down... phenominal!

Down stream the fish were tearing up BWO emergers in a few runs ie. the picnic shelter. Great action for a cold February's day! Glad ya'll got into some very NICE fish, and thankyou for sharing the story and Photos.


02-12-2007, 06:46 AM
We had some good luck on some bwo emergers as well, that was what they seemed to want there for awhile. Once we switched to that, we tore them up. It's a very unique river and is quite different than the backcountry streams that i am used to fishing.

Now i'm from nc, so i don't know that much about tn, but the south holston was about 3 hours away from me in statesville, does anyone know of any other tailwater streams that is that same amount of time away or shorter? I know of the other tailwater streams in tn, but have no clue as to where they are at.

02-15-2007, 07:31 PM
You were 15-20 mins from the Watauga