South Holston River Report for
October brings the color to the mountain forests, the first chill to the air, and the spawning urge to the brown trout--which means that October brings the knowledgeable anglers to the river. So, it's been a busy time for Altamont Anglers guides and their clients, with lots of successful hours logged on-stream. The pictures that follow tell a story of hungry trout and happy anglers: click-a-pic for the specifics and enjoy the show!
September is a slow season in the fly fishing world: school has started, the weather is more like Summer than Fall, it's a season in transition. But for those who can get to the river, it's the perfect time to warm up for the coming cool weather kicking off the pre-spawn madness of brown trout. Cool October weather brings the "frisky" to brown trout waters, as the breeding-age fish move out of their safe zones and aggressively feed in order to put on the protein necessary for a successful spawn. Get the kinks out of your cast in September so you can be ready in October...
Richard Weiss and Bruce Levy teamed up for a couple of days of testing the waters of the Watauga and South Holston Rivers in late August, braving the heat to confirm the rumors they'd been hearing about our favorite fisheries. Altamont Anglers lead guide Teo Whitlock introduced them to the piscine riches on offer, and they both pledged a speedy return for more.
The late summer hatches still include some afternoon Sulphurs, with the bulk of the action involving sub-surface scuds, midges, and assorted baetis nymphs.
August might the heart of the "Dog Days" of summer, but not on the South Holston River, where cold water and hungry trout provide relief from the doldrums. An excursion to the SoHo on August 19 yielded handsome trout caught on scud patterns, midges and foam-bodied beetles-a variety of options to be celebrated any time of the year.
Beat the heat with Altamont Anglers in August by joining us on our favorite East Tennessee tailwaters: Let's go fishing!
Tim Belk braved the heat for a couple of days last week, and was rewarded with that fine brown trout in the picture (among others). You can count on an afternoon thunderstorm--which will at least lower the temperature--and and afternoon storm of Sulphurs. Drift downstream within an easy cast to the tree lined bank and aim for the noses rising under the overhanging branches. It's not as easy as it sounds, due to tricky micro-currents messing with your drift, but success comes to those who perservere--just ask Tim Belk!
That's Judy Buhrman in the other shot, also on the SoHo, and also braving the heat for the obvious reward. Click thumbs for full-size images.
They're B-a-a-a-a-a-ck!! It's Sulphur Season on the South Holston, that time of year when we can predict, with certainty, afternoon thunderstorms--and Sulphur hatches on high water. The very fact that fish will rise on high water because the hatches are so dense, unfortunately makes the boat hatch a bit dense also--but it's a big river, and there are noses for all.
More good news: big fish are spread out throughout the river on low water, too. The bugs don't start pouring off until the afternoon water releases, but stalking spooky hogs on low water with long leaders, fine tippets and tiny midge patterns has a perverse appeal to many anglers. Wader up and hit the water! Clicking the following thumbnails opens full size renders of some fine end-of-June South Holston fishing:
Mid-day Baetis hatches are the highlight of the day on the South Holston River right now, although the fishing has been steady throughout the days lately, fishing tiny nymphs, midge and scud patterns.
Chris Snyder and Jon Caruthers are becoming regular fixtures in the boat captained by Altamont Anglers' Teo Whitlock, and they took advantage of the early nymphing and mid-day BWO hatch to boat some nice fish on Saturday, March 5, as the photos posted below show. Click the thumbs for full-sized views of some fine early-season action:
That action included good nymph fishing throughout the day and terrific Blue Olive Hatches in the afternoon (as long as the clouds hung around). Good numbers of fish were boated on both days, and some good sizes as well.
Click any of the thumbs below for a full-size slideshow of the January action on the South Holston River
Brian Rudisill booked a float trip guided by Altamont Anglers guide Teo Whitlock specifically to treat his good friend John Baker to the delights of the South Holston River. Aiming for some late pre-spawn brown trout action, Brian and John caught the very end of the show, as the fish are getting onto their redds now. However, they were able to find some still frisky fish not totally focused on reproduction and, instead, still feeding aggressively.
Heavy rains recently had the TVA drawing down lake levels, which meant fishing on high water that was a little murky, but decent Blue Winged Olive hatches in the afternoon brought fish up anyway, and the proof is in the pictures that the SoHo is still the right choice for anglers looking for a little winter action.
It is Brown Trout season on the South Holston River, even into November as the pre-spawn behavior by the brownies continues. These fish are aggressively feeding in order to take on the protein required for the impending spawn, a behavior that knowledgeable anglers exploit to their trophy-hunting advantage.
Bill Matyi fished with Altamont Anglers guide Teo Whitlock on Friday, November 6 and from the looks of it, found an aggressive trout that has recently taken on a lot of protein.
This golden opportunity to catch a big brown trout won't last forever: the first really hard cold spell will put these fish finally onto their redds, with the females protecting their eggs from predators, at which time ethical anglers will lay off and leave them in peace. So get moving--give us a call at (828)775-0714 and let's go fishing!!
Altamont Anglers guide Teo Whitlock led the charge both days, and gave us a brief report on the action: The Watauga offers up a nice BWO hatch around 3:00 pm, with fish feeding on the usual tiny nymphs and midges throughout the day, while the South Holston produces with small baetis nymphs, midges and scuds all day, with BWO's on pulse and high water, and still has sulphurs on high water.
Click the thumbs for full-size images...
There's an old saying in the fly fishing cannon: "20% of the fisherman catch 100% of the 20-inch trout". It's an indication of the awe in which we regard the accomplishment of catching the mythical 20-incher. So, imagine that you catch in one day not just one, not two, not three but SEVEN beautiful brown trout 20-inches or bigger! Impossible, you say...
But that's exactly what Glenn and Bill McNairy did on October 10, 2015, on a float trip down the South Holston River guided by Altamont Anglers guide Teo Whitlock. It's no secret that October on the South Holston is prime-time for big browns, due to the pre-spawn behavior drawing the mature fish out of their hidey holes into very aggressive feeding as they pack on the protein in preparation for the upcoming rigors spawning.
Teo reports that the killer technique of fishing an attractor nymph above a dropper pattern matching the insects the fish are actively feeding on--in this case, mostly midges and scuds--proved irresistible to the trout.
Martin Arostegui has a few World Records confirmed by the IFGA, and wanted his wife to join him in the IGFA rolls, so they came to the South Holston River looking for a big brown trout. October is the right time to pursue big browns on the Soho, as they are early in pre-spawn mode, aggressively taking on protein before the November spawn.Martin and Roberta booked time at the South Holston River Lodge, where Altamont Anglers lead guide Teo Whitlock promptly obliged them by putting Roberta onto a 27" brown trout which she expertly played to the net, a feat of true skill on 4lb test line! We'll be waiting for confirmation from the IGFA that Roberta's fish is a line-class record for brown trout.
Clicking the thumbs that follow opens a nice slide show of Roberta's adventure, and includes a picture taken the day before of Teo and Lefty Kreh after a day in which the great man had characteristically donated his time for a charity fishing event.
July is South Holston time, when hot air temperatures make the cold water even more enticing, the Sulphurs bring the big-uns to the top on high water, and on low water the trout cruise for beetles. It's time to slather on the sun-screen and brave the heat for late summer fishing at its best!
Debbie Griffith and her friend Trish Brown did just that on Tuesday, July 28 with the guidance of Altamont Anglers lead guide Teo Whitlock. In spite of some erratic water releases by the TVA (some scheduled, some not) Debbie and Trish managed to catch fish on just about everything, from deep-drifted midge pupae, to dry Sulphur patterns on high water, to fat, foam-bodied beetle patterns floated on the low water.
Click the thumbs for full-views of Trish, Debbie and a few other anglers enjoying enjoying the end of July fishing on the South Holston River:
Jack and his fishing buddy Mark Hoffman floated with AA guide Teo Whitlock on January 3rd and 4th, and got the New Year of to a successful start.
Click the thumbs for full-size views of some nice Winter action on the South Holston River:
Lake levels behind the dam are below normal, due to lower than average rainfall, and the TVA is keeping water releases to a minimum. This means a one-hour pulse at about 1300 cfs just once a day, usually at night. So it's a wader's opportunity for now, and you'll need the long leaders with the fine tippets, because the trout a spooky as cats in the skinny water.
Joe Rose took advantage of the mild weather and the hungry trout, floating with Altamont Anglers for two days in the first week of June. But judging by that big brown trout, Joe's leader was long and his tippet was fine enough!
The South Holston produced a lot of great fishing during the Madness of March, for those willing to trade hoops for hooks.
Click the following pics for fullsize views of some of that great fishing:
Clay Gibson is on a mission to raise money for River's Way, the United Way affiliated lodge on the South Holston River. To support the good work done by the folks at River's Way, Clay has booked multiple weekends at the lodge in 2014, and is wrangling his many fishing friends to combine fishing with charity in a fund-raising effort that should earn him some excellent Karma--like that lovely rainbow in the picture!
Click the following thumbs for full-size pics of some of the generous anglers who've answered Clay's call to contribute to the River's Way:
It's heating up on the South Holston now (not the weather, of course: that's as miserable as it feels). It's the action that's hot, thanks to the abundance of bugs and consistent water temps (hats off to the 300' deep reservoir behind that dam).
Chris Hanson felt like he needed to increase his understanding of our premier tailwater, the South Holston River, and wisely sought the guidance of Altamont Anglers. His time in the boat with AA guide Teo Whitlock seems to have worked out well--here's Chris's feedback from the fishing
"We had great day, lots of action in the water, I caught my biggest trout so far, very exciting… Teo was very patient and instructive. I truly enjoyed the experience."
The pleasure was all ours, Chris!
(Altamont Anglers operates on Pisgah National Forest Rivers under USDA Forest Service Permit #PIS6560)