With the rain letting up just enough to tease before the stream guages get blown out again by that bitch of a mother nature we said fuck it and packed up the gear, boat, and coolers for a rondavu on the Watauga river. I met up with Ryan and Chris for a short float on friday that was productive but only slightly beyond just getting a line wet. That night we were joined by Tim the broken heart Doctor from theDrake Forum for arnold palmers and Vodka until late into the night. Saturday mourning Shane joined in, also from the Drake, for a lazy river boat ride down the Trophy section of the Watauga river followed by some post generation wading. Repeating it all again on Sunday minus Shane. The fishing wasn’t the best we’ve done on these sections of river but who can really complain about floating down a river, drinking beer, eating food and fly fishing with NO OTHER BOATS IN SIGHT? We did manage a few nice fish and the weather held out for the most part with a few sprinkles here and there. I would like to indulge everyone with our after hour shenanigans but my contract, nor wedding vows will allow it. Enjoy.
The camping gear is finally dry and the yota is sparkling, that means our Tennessee weekend is over. 3 days of slinging big chunks of meat on 8 weights would typically scare away the average fly fisherman, but with the thought of turning a 30 inch fish burnt into our minds it didn’t matter how much work we would have to put in. I met up with Chris and Ryan friday around 2-ish for a late afternoon float on the upper So-Ho. Ryan doesn’t need an introduction, no one likes him and he always catches a big fish bla bla bla. But Chris has just returned to the States after serving our country, doing what I’m really not sure but i have a few ideas, and he’s glad to be back.
The following day we picked up a few players from the Drake Forum including the man who has touched the ass of every bass on the Holston River, Randy “Super Awesome” Ratliff. With all 4 boats locked and loaded we launched all 4 crafts (1 hyde, 1 lavro, 1 x-13, and 1 clackacraft) from the campground and began to covered every nook and cranny of the next 14 miles of river all the way into Bluff City.
Sunday the decision was made to do some exploring since it was the weekend and it was absolutely beautiful outside which meant every guide and average joe would be out on the water. We were down to 2 boats and the 4 of us that were left could row and throw so we headed for an untamed section of the Watauga river for an 8 mile float. The fishing was great all 3 days, plenty of fishing on nymphs and good but low numbers on streamers. Just about everyone caught fish on nymphs, streamers and dry flies. No one landed that “Big” fish although the group did turn some big heads which you could tell by the spontaneous outbreaks in loud profane language that could be heard up and down the stream. Including in our boat. I got to add a few more people to the phone list of fishing buddies and I can’t wait to get back down to the So-Ho for some low water action.
UPDATE: Today is March 17….got a call from Ryan. Him and Chris floated the upper section of the Watauga again today and boated at 25 inch brown. Be sure to check out AppFlyGuides for a report and pics soon to come!!!!!
Went floating last week with my buddy Steve. Steve just happens to be a pretty famous artist (who knew?), so when he sent me some pics I expected some real cut your ear off for your art type of shit. I was not disappointed.
Next time we might actually attempt to steal a fish’s soul by capturing it on film…stay tuned.
After a couple months of talk and waiting, the weather, and lack of TVA generation allowed Kent and I to float an unnamed section of tailwater we had been researching in the great state of “TennNorthCarolinaessee”. One that is controlled by the TVA dictatorship. This particular section isn’t stocked, and is suppose to be bad fish habitat. Well there are several streams that support wild and stocked fish that feed the main river. Not to mention the upper reaches are fairly fertile as well, and its possible that some land owners may stock fish as well.
Access was the main issue, considering you have to float over a small dam ( no portage, and a 5 ft drop was pretty fun) and take out under a bridge right of way, using 4 wheel drive to plow your trailer as close to the water as possible, this section probably sees few people.
We hit the water around 10, and after a short time are into fish. This kept up as we approached the small spillway. Once over it, the fishing slowed a bit, but we were still into fish. Kent even hooked a nice smallie in the 3 lb range, only to watch him spit the hook just shy of the net. As the day progressed we found ourselves amongst a tan caddis hatch and fishing picked up. We were taking fish on drys, emergers, nymphs, and streamers. The fishing once again picked up and we were landing a mixed bag of wild and stocked fish of all sizes. I hooked into a bow pushing 18 inches and had my ass handed to me after several blistering runs, one of which went into my backing, before it too spit the hook at the net.
I will say the fish were full of life, healthy and used the current to their advantage.
As the day was winding down we hit a deep stretch with gravel bottoms, drop offs and lots of structure. So we were took turns pounding streamers as the other rows. I remember it well, I was drinking beer looking at a fallen tree thinking that looks fishy as I make a cast, strip a few times before the rod was nearly jerked from my hand. It was a slab of a bow that acted like a steelhead and just ripped line off my reel as it headed for structure, all while putting on an aerobatic display. I finally managed to coax her to the shore as I kept side pressure and Kent rowed to the far side where I could wade and net her. Once landed we noticed something had made a meal from a piece of her. Maybe a Musky, who knows?
It was my turn on the oars, so Kent hits the same stretch I did, and managed a nice 20 inch brown, again we do the samething, row other side and try to land the fish. Only this tim Leroy had other plans. Just as I get in range to slap him with the net, he bolts and spits the hook. I think Kent lost his religion. So we head down river and a little while later I tangle with another nice bow, which gave hell of a fight. Kent shortly followed with yet another brown which pushed 18 inches. Now I am not sure where these fish came from. Probably a feeder stream, or one of the few land owners stocking them, or maybe they were washed down from the upper river. I do know the state doesn’t stock this area. Not to mention it was some of the best looking water on the river. Clean gravel bottoms, mixed with moss and sand. Lots of structure and riffles.
It was a killer day. I will be back!
I don’t have much time as the switch from the off-season to the busy season happened and no one told me about it. I got floats staring this week clear through next fall, so it’s once again time to put on my big boy pants, get my guide face on (always smiling…no matter what), and clean out the truck. Before the madness really gets cranking I did get a chance on Sunday to float the Watauga. Turned out to be one of those days that will get me through a season’s worth of tangles, dragged drifts, and fish horsed. I’m usually full of crap to say, but this time I think I am just gonna let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy the spectacle.
Needless to say, we must have done right by somebody to be this frickin’ lucky. Did I mention Ryan caught that beast on his third cast of the day, and I somehow convinced that kype nosed buck of a rainbow to eat a size 18 BWO dry? At this point I think even my shit is smelling like roses…now if I could just figure out how to make my son’s shit smell like fresh baked cookies…I would really be on to something.
This has to be one of the snowiest and coldest winters we have experienced in the South. Chuckles the Botanist and I hit the river for a high water float during some craptastic weather. Here is a little video and eye candy for those stuck inside not getting to fish.