Some of the best trout-fishing in the Southeast is in northeast Tennessee. There are 2 very productive tailwater fisheries in this area, the Watauga and the South Holston Rivers, that are fairly popular to wade and/or float fish. The Watauga River runs through Carter County, Tennessee, and has both wild and stocked trout (rainbows, browns, and the occasional brook trout). The Watauga has several sections, and this provides the opportunity for several different floats. In the summer months striped bass migrate up the river and eat the trout and shad in the river; this provides a good opportunity to catch one on a fly. There is an excellent caddis hatch every spring on the Watauga, sometimes called the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch.
The South Holston tailwater is a unique tailwater fishery, in that it has brown trout that spawn very successfully every year. Because of this success, there are protected, closed areas to fishing during the spawn (from the end of November til February 1 usually). This river has a very rich and diverse food base, and is one of the best trout rivers in the East. Scientists estimate that there are between 7,000 and 11,000 trout-per-mile of river. This river is world-famous for it’s long hatch of sulphur mayflies. This hatch can last over 8 months, and even in the winter they sometimes hatch. Some of those brown trout get big and smart, so those small sulphur patterns have to be good! There are also good numbers of Baetis (blue-wing olive mayflies) throughout the river, as well as some caddisflies down near the mouth of the river. Other food items for these trout include beetles, grasshoppers, scuds, sowbugs, craneflies, blackflies (especially the larvae and the adult), worms, and even mice. During the summer and fall months we offer night-time floats on this river for big browns and the occasional striped bass using mouse fly patterns. This can be a lot of fun and often produces some large trout.