well I've always wanted to fish the watauga, but never really got around to it. today I woke up and decided to give it a go. most of the day was spent as a fact finding mission. to my suprise, there's not much info on the internet. I finally discovered a fly shop in Johnson city and drove straight there to gather info. I talked with the guys there and they were really helpful. upon learning I was from knoxville, the first thing they asked was about the clinch. they wanted to know if it was really as bad as they'd been hearing. they showed me a few patterns that were working. the big issue however, was to figure out where I could access the river. these guys told me a few places and probably gave me the most accurate directions possible. the only problem was the directions sounded something like this: "take this highway, then left at this old house, the right by krystal, drive back one mile, take a dog leg at the baseball field.." ok, you get the point. the second I got back in my car I had no idea where I was going. after bumming around elizabethton for an hour or so I finally found some public access.
the water was much smaller than what I'd imagined, so I decided to give the old 3wt some exercise. upon entering the river I saw a lone sulphur floating through the air. that was a good sign. within a few casts I was in business. I caught multiple bows, all nice and healthy, out of the same run. I then spent the next hour on some nicer looking runs downstream, but unexplainably came up empty handed. I decided I'd work the previous run a little more and call it a day.
it's almost like a dream to me, but as I was watching my little sulphur bounce along the current, I saw a huge golden mass appear and inhale my fly. I set the hook and then, as john gierach put it, "it was one of those 'oh $h#t!' moments that only happen about twice a year". I thought the fish might actually break the 3wt., not to mention the 5x. I don't know how, but without a net, I was able to land that fish. he was about an 18" brown, hook jaw and all. that's not huge in the whole scheme of the trout world, but it is the biggest and most beautiful trout I've ever taken on a flyrod. thank you watauga.