View Full Version : First Watauga Experience

08-01-2007, 07:38 PM
Went up to Watauga this past weekend and braved the heavy showers. It paid off. The fish were extremely willing to take flies, and were not very picky about the fly. Morning saw intense nymph action, and the afternoons saw sulfurs and tan caddis hatching. We were catching so many fish that I lost count. However, I did manage to get my first ever East TN slam in the most unlikely area. Actually, all four of us who were fishing there managed to catch a slam. I managed to catch a very balanced ratio of bows, browns, and brookies. The largest brown was only around 12", while we caught a quite a few bows in the 13 - 15" range. However, the biggest surprise of the weekend was the 9+" brookie I landed. Not as pretty as the little ones in the smokies, but still a beauty to look at. After my last two trips to the Bristol and Johnson City area, the Watauga and SoHo are now by far tops on my list of destinations in East TN.


08-01-2007, 08:39 PM

I fished Watauga once with a buddy about five years ago. We went to the smalling bridge area and sycamore shoals. We didn't to to good and I think it was because it was in the dead of winter (feb). Does anyone know if there's good access in Elizabethtown? I have been curious about fishing Wilbur lake also but no one seem to have any experience there since I didn't get any response in my previous thread.

08-02-2007, 11:57 AM
I don't recall seeing any access inside Elizabethton's city limits. Once you pass through elizabethton heading toward Wilbur dam, there is a small access point along the road. It just looks like a little pull off into a field, but the water is extremely slick and spring creek like in that area. I can't recall if it is on Blue Springs Rd or Steel Bridge Rd. I can tell you to not waste your time going past the steel bridge you come to before the dam. The water is all slow, deep, and extremely treacherous.

We were down at the smalling bridge area 90% of the time and it was crawling with fisherman on Saturday, but Sunday we had it all to ourselves.


08-02-2007, 12:51 PM
There is plenty of access on the Watagua in Elizabethton and around hunter as well as down stream. Get a good atlas and go explore all of the river crossings, as well as roads that go along the river. You'd be surpirsed at the amount of access

08-02-2007, 06:45 PM
Thanks Travis, I also felt that it was crowded and a little bit limited on access. I do think I remember hearing about some access in Elizabethtown.

Maurer! Do you know of or have you heard of any access points downtown Elizabethtown. There's supposed to be some kind of city park there?

08-02-2007, 07:47 PM
I may have read this wrong, but I swear that somewhere I read that there is fishing in the Industrial park in Elizabethton, as you drive into town. It looks like Cherokee Industrial Park is off of US321 and that Cherokee Park Dr goes right to the river. Could that be correct?

There is also this map from TWRA:

08-02-2007, 08:28 PM
You are right, I think that's what I've been thinking about. It is supposed to be somewhat close to downtown.


08-03-2007, 08:31 AM
Also Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton.

08-03-2007, 11:55 AM
The Watauga has lots of access points in Elizabethton. It gets crowded though with the ever increasing numbers of anglers both fly and bait fishermen and some of the access points have now become no trespassing due to inconsiderant fishermen leaving trash and parking on private property without permission. There is also the increased presence of outfitters float trips on the river and "some" of them are not considerate of the wade fishermen. My last trip to the trophy section was met with 5 drifters with 2 anglers each stopping and getting out to fish within 10 ft. of me. I like to fish it during the winter now, less pressured waters and still catch decent fish.

08-03-2007, 05:59 PM
Hello all,

I am curious if the brookies they are stocking are of the southern variety or the northern variety. I hope to be exploring this stream in the future, especially after the weather cools down.



08-03-2007, 11:38 PM
They are Eastern Brook Trout, Not Southern Appalachian. They don't have much luck propagating SA brookies in hatcheries. They look about the same accept that hatchery fish are often very dull, doesn't seem like the SA's are ever very dull.

milligan trout degree
08-13-2007, 11:09 PM
there is a city park in downtown elizabethon that sits right along the watauga. i can't remember the exact road names, but if you're driving through downtown where the road splits (right to historic downtown left to the food city and hwy 19 jct), stay left and then turn on about any of the left hand roads and make your way in the general left direction till you hit the river. an easier way i just remembered is to go by the minor leauge baseball stadium. as you're coming up 321 go about 1/4 mile past walmart and look for the 'traveler's inn' hotel, then turn left at that road, it will take you down the the baseball field. take a right at the road the fields on the city park is just one block to your left off that road.

another access point on the other side of the river is a little tougher to explain if you dont know the roads well, but here goes:

as you're coming into elizabethon from johnson city on hwy 321 go through the first red light (jct with milligan hwy) go down the hill (past the little league fields off to your left and the golf course to your right) to the next light and take a left. then take your next right beside a small car lot and that road runs along the watauga and there are a few pull offs and a boat ramp. this road basically runs opposite sycamore shoals until it turns left into the hills.

and then you've always got sycamore shoals which is easy to find.

sorry my directions are a little shaky, i just lived there for one school year. there's some more access headed towards unaka but i wont even try to explain that since i've only been that way once or twice.