South Holston River 7.28.14



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShort and sweet post today from East Tennessee.

We had great bugs over the weekend on low water on the South Holston River. The problem? Picky fish. What do some call this? Dry fly fishing in late July. I know I do anyway. The fish can get pretty locked in on what they want, and maybe more importantly, how they want it.  Practice your reach cast before you head here next time…it works.

We are having high water today.  As for the rest of the week? Hard to say with no rain in the forecast until the weekend. Might be a good week to float? May not be. We have had great low water sulphurs this summer, will this be the week that carries over to great high water bugs? We hope so, if we have high water at all the rest of the week that is.  The nymph bite should be pretty good as well if they keep a steady schedule.

The Watauga River is also keeping people happy. Especially the high water nymph bite when they run in the afternoon. Could be worth the half day float? It’s fun. Above is Brown Trout caught on Watauga float with Matthew Guinn . Sonja Ballard looks very happy with her catch.

Come find out with us here at the South Holston Fly Shop. The epicenter of all things South Holston and Watauga River. The hotline is wide open for all things trip, general info or fly oriented questions.



Sluice was Great for Sulphur Fishing…

The 200cfs sluice brought sulphurs which brought fish up, which made fisherman smile……

The dry fly fishing was excellent ….. the terrestrial fishing was excellent .. and the midge pupae fishing was even better…Lots of the below size of fish. And many bigger yesterday. Will post them as soon as I get (1)

TVA is  still  giving all day wading…they are generating 2-3 hours in the afternoon, late. Would be a good time to nymph fish or throw streamers.

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South Holston River 7.21.14


Lots of out-of-towners on the river this weekend. Easy to tell because the river is pretty void of folks today. Or maybe because it’s Monday? The week is definitely nice if one wants to avoid the crowds here as we head into the home stretch of July on the South Holston River.

For those that made the pilgrimage this weekend, they probably weren’t disappointed. The sulphurs were great. Thursday through Sunday had excellent afternoon bugs. The Lords of the dry fly were certainly happy…for the most part. Bugs will should continue to be solid through the week. We’ve made it through that mid summer funk…I think.

The bugs have gotten a bit smaller too. A little strange for July, but not unheard of. A lot of 18′s and a few 20′s flying around. Plenty of 16′s in the mix still too. Are you still using that 16 fly with minimal success? Down size. A general rule is to error on the side of small here. At least that’s my professionally unprofessional opinion.

People are starting to get on that mid summer midge game. It can be fun. Honest.

It’s tough to tell how the flow schedule is going to play out this week. Today, no water until 5 with the exception of a pulse at 11 am. No full generation of any kind is projected for tomorrow, and then 4 hours of run time is being projected for Wednesday. We’ll take it day to day.

Come swing by the shop or give us a shout via telephone technology. We can help you with flies, fly tying stuff, trip bookings, flows and all of the free information you can stand about anything Watauga and South Holston River.

UPDATE: The powers that be at the TVA say they will be sluicing minimum flow for Tuesday and Wednesday. Should mean great bugs for the low water angler. Minimum Flow is 200 CFS, which is easy wading.




South Holston River 7.18.14


The knob turners up at the dam had the predicted outflows all over the map the last few days here on the South Holston River. But still, a very good wade schedule was made possible. Good for those who wanted to get sulphurs on foot.

The sulphurs have been solid. Especially on low water. They have been OK during high water. We won’t say great. Still getting fish up for them, but without a consistent release schedule, they haven’t seemed to really get into a rhythm.  Hatches during the low water periods have lasted up to 5 hours with steady bugs. And other days have only lasted less than an hour. So it goes. I’m no entomologist, but they seem to come off whenever they want. Some days early, some days late. I think they enjoy sleeping in though.

The midge fishing? If we can convince ourselves  to stay away from a sulphur pattern of any kind,  midging has been the way to go. Especially if fish are getting picky. And they sure have been picky at times lately.

Rain on the docket for the next few days. Hooray! We need it, the lake tribs need it and the trout need it. We welcome the wet stuff.

Stop by or call us here at the South Holston Fly Shop for the up to the second FREE information center for all things South Holston River. Watauga River too. Trips, flies and other stuff. We’re here to help.


Big Fish.. little bugs..

Matt’s trip Saturday was good on the South Holston River..  This is the biggest Brown Trout landed. Matt said a couple of inches bigger one pulled off at the boat. A whale broke off. And another big one took them to school.

Guess what this hen ate… a #22 midge… all of them ate the midge… honest John.


Joe said their were bugs for about 4 hours Sunday afternoon but the fish were picky, picky.

TVA is running 4 hours today.. so easily could wade all day. All week should be perfect 1/2 day wade and 1/2 day float with sulphurs on high water.

The weather is going to be 70′s and LOW 80′s .. so it should be beautiful.

We have openings this week if you want a shot at this kind of fish. Give us a call at 423-878-2822.

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South Holston River: The good, bad, and the ugly. 7.13.14


It’s hot here on the South Holston River. The Watauga too. The weather that is. Many coming back with tails of struggles. Some coming back with tails of success. As for others?

The good: The midge fishing. Really good midge fishing to be had here in the month of July. When the fish aren’t on Sulphurs, those who midge longer, catch more fish longer…most times. The beetle bite is also fantastic for those who dig waking up early and skipping breakfast. The Watauga River is also nymphing well. It can be fun.

The bad: The bugs. This weekend did not prove to have great Sulphurs. It was a low water weekend, which might have something to do with it. There have been some, but not too many as far as mass numbers go. Could today be the day it all turns back around? What about tomorrow with a little bit of high water predicted? They’ll bounce back.

The ugly: The crowds. July tends to be one of the busiest months here on the South Holston River. Especially weekends. So if you’re not a fan of fishing near others. This may not be the environment for you. Tell the boss Tuesday is the new Saturday, and you’ll have a little bit more breathing room.

The button pushers up at the dam are predicting a few solid hours of high water in the afternoons this coming week. Might be perfect for that half day high water bug fix? Let us know if you’re interested. We have spots available for the rest of the month.

Need info about this stuff? Call or stop by the shop daily for the latest on trip stuff, bug stuff, fly stuff and TVA release stuff. We got you covered here at the South Holston Fly Shop.



South Holston River Report 7.8.14


photo (1)Wade in the morning and float in the afternoon for Sulphurs? Or simply just float in the afternoon for Sulphurs? That’s what we’ll have as far as the release schedule is concerned here on the South Holston River. High water in the afternoons, it’s a beautiful thing if you dig the dry fly game  on the Southeasts favorite tailwater.

Low water anglers have had their share of bugs as well. Just some days are better than others, which is typical of July. Overall, however, it’s been a damn good dry fly month thus far. The afternoons bring the good hatches here. So if you’re wanting to fish Sulphurs for a few hours, go ahead and sleep in.

The midge fishing is also as consistent as it gets right now. It can be REALLY good before the big show gets moving. Try it, you may like it.

Come see us here at the South Holston Fly Shop. Or give us a jingle about trips, cool logo shirts, flies galore, Frogs Fanny, Dry Magic and anything else those dry fly fanatics need for a day on the mighty South Holston River.

We have some openings Wednesday and Thursday if you interested in a Guided Trip. Either Float or Wade or the much enjoyed 1/2 day wade and 1/2 day float trip. Give us a call at 423-878-2822 to book you a trip.




South Holston River 7.7.14


It’s summer time and the fishing’s easy…occasionally. On any given day we can have good bugs here on the South Holston River. But it is July, and some days the bugs can come in mass numbers, while other days they may hardly come off at all. At least if we’re talking about low water.

High water? We didn’t have any Saturday or Sunday. But Thursday and Friday sure ruled. Pretty good bugs both days.

As for the coming week? The TVA will be back on the 3 to 4 hour generation schedule for the next few days. The question that remains is when they will be running it. Today the wheels won’t be run until 5. Tomorrow? Wednesday? We will find out here by the end of the day.

Dry Fly fishing? Pretty good for most. Some days they are coming off stronger than others. Low riding Sulphur emergers seem to really be having the upper hand amongst the fish catching bugs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, heavily dusted dries are also sticking a bunch.

Dry-dropper crowd: may be the most efficient and most popular way to catch fish at the moment. Small sulphur nymphs, PT’s and soft hackles… where have we heard that before?

Midge fishing has been fantastic in the mornings. Evenings too.

Beetle fishing? It’s July and it can be awesome.

Come on in to see us here at the South Holston River Fly Shop for all your needs for a day on the South Holston and Watauga Rivers. Operators are standing by for trip bookings. Float or wade, we got you all covered. Free info too…


South Holston River 7.4.14


The South Holston River. It rocks. And rolls sometimes too. Mark Taylor with this dandy of a high water dry fly fish. We have had great bugs the last few days on both high and low water on the mother SoHo. The Watauga River has also been pretty good…mostly.

What to expect this weekend? A bunch of people I’d say. But probably worth it…there will be Sulphurs. But prepare to have a good bit of company as July in general tends to be a busy month.

Today will be the last day of high water for the next couple of days as the TVA plans to cut back their generation for the weekend. So back to an all day wade schedule tomorrow and Sunday. Great news if you’re here for this 4th of July weekend.

July is also a dry fly month. The entire upper end is lit up with yellow bugs. The Sulphurs.  The good stuff. If you want solitude? head down river some. No bugs there, but that’s not always a bad thing…just fishes differently this time of year.

Midges are the general rule in the morning.

Did I mention Sulphurs in the afternoon?

Americas birthday is today. How will you celebrate it? Hopefully with us here on the South Holston River





South Holston River 7.1.14


We will be having SOME high water this week on the South Holston River. Might be perfect for that half day float? The jury is still out on what the schedule will be looking like the rest of the week, but they will be running for a few hours starting around 3 pm today. Perfect for a few hours of sulphur goodness from the boat. What will it be like tomorrow? We will find out here this evening. Hopefully similar.

Low water Fishing? Sulphurs certainly made their presence known here over the weekend. Some pretty impresive hatches over the last few afternoons. It was getting them to eat anything consistently that proved to be the most difficult. As for Sunday and Monday? A little easier. The fish seem to be keying in on emergers more so than adults throughout these hatches lately. Also, with the water being so low and clear…dare I say it…7X is beginning to be employed more.

Dry Fly Gang: Your “A game” is a must. Maybe even more so than usual recently. Puffs and cripples are winners with the standard comparadun being a distant third. Fly first, and the bugs have been a bit larger…which is nice for blind folks like myself.

Nymphing: If you’re into it. Split cases, PT’s, softies…

Midges: Maybe even more so. Especially before the sulphurs really get moving.

July is hot. The fishing can be that way as well. Particularly if your are fan of the yellow bug. Float or wade, we have you covered here at the shop.





A little Feedback..

Hey Rod,
I don’t mind waiting. Thanks for the update and the supplies.
Matt Guinn recommended buying some fly tying supplies from y’all when we he guided our trip earlier this year. That trip with Matt was my first guided trip so I didn’t fully appreciate how good Matt was until recently. I just got back from the Little Red in Arkansas. It was a great trip and I caught some nice fish but the guide aspect of the trip was nothing compared to what Matt gave us. He gave me some really good tips and showed me a few things that have paid off for sure.
I live in Nashville but now I feel like y’all are my local fly shop. I look forward to continuing shopping with y’all and coming back for another trip as soon as I can.  Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later!
Thanks again,
Michael Bednarcyk
IMG_3851Not Micheal, but yet a smiling face with a dandy Rainbow trout from the South Holston River

South Holston River 6.24.14

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We have high water on the South Holston River! Some anyway. But don’t worry you wading warriors, the schedule is still conducive to as much wade fishing as you can stand. You will just have to shuffle down river a little bit. The TVA has begun their summer release…at least for now. The lake is at or close to full pond for the time being, but without substantial rain, the TVA still will need to keep their releases in check. They are running for about three consecutive hours during the early afternoon. What’s this mean? Perfect half day floats for bugs on high water. And maybe some nymphing too? The releases also mean that the middle and lower ends of the river will receive cooler water, which also means better wade fishing when the water is off. And great for low water floats too on the lowest parts of the river.

As for the fishing itself? With the sudden change in flows, the fishing may be a bit off for a few days. Fish don’t like sudden change. At least that’s my story. Neither do the bugs. Once they grow accustom to the new flows, the fishing should once again be fantastic. Could that day be tomorrow? Probably.

For those who dig nimps? They are having a ball. Split Cases, PT’s, soft hackles…you know, the usual. Keeping them smaller and skinny has been a general rule lately. But rules are meant to be broken.

Folks who stay dry? Good sulphurs recently. Pretty good anyway. Puffs and emergers rule. Sparkle Duns coming in a distant third could also be considered. I like the fly first approach. Not always necessary though.

Midges? Sure.

Terrestrials? It’s time. It’s a not  so secret top secret here on this river. Beetles are definitely becoming more and more of a factor. Pitch ‘em.

It’s a good time to fish here on the South Holston River. Watauga River too. Trips are going out daily, but plenty of guides are also available daily for your South Holston and Watauga River fun. Shop also open daily.


Good Water Conditions here on South Holston River

TVA has begun generating 3 hours a day. That is perfect to lower water temperatures and give both wading and float fisherman good water. The Sulphurs should be stout on both low and high water. And don’t tell anyone but the Beetles are in town. Matthew and Blake both said beetle fishing was tremendous yesterday.

This is a good schedule for 1/2 day wade and 1/2 day float trips. And that ain’t nothing but fun.

We have guide trip openings for this week and next week if you want to give it a go. The fish should not be spooky on high water sulphur fishing. Because that is the way they are when TVA first starts generating.

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South Holston River Report 6.19.14


June. It’s the dry fly month. At least that’s how I have come to know it. The Sulphur season is now officially in full swing on the South Holston River. Bugs daily. Some days stronger than others, but you know how that goes. Still all good, man.

The dry fly bunch has been happy most afternoons. They should have smiles on their faces all the way through summer. Fall too. Puffs, comparaduns, cripples, emergers dry, emergers not so dry. Ya’ know, the basics. So find your favorite flat or riffle and have at it.

Nymphing? Certainly. Splits, PT’s, soft hackles…Dry/dropper has been the preferred method to employ.

Midging? That never ends…ever

As for the Watauga? We still like it too. Floats have been solid with the nymph bite remaining strong. Hopefully it stays that way as we turn the corner into the official start of summer.

We’re floating, we’re wading for bugs, we’re fishing. June is good. July is nice too. Will you be here?





South Holston River Report: Friday the 13th Edition


Friday the 13th only happens once this year. So after today, you’re safe for the rest of 2014. What a relief, right?

For those who are not so superstitious. Today should be like the rest of the week here on the South Holston River. Damn good. For those who dig bugs, the mid to late afternoon Sulphurs have been fairly solid. The spectacular events still might be on the horizon though. But still a whole bunch of fun when they’re around.

Nymphs? Absolutely. Weightless sulphur nymphs? Soft hackles too? Try ‘em. You may like fishing with weightless bugs. I do.

Midges? All day long.

Come join the fun with us here at the South Holston River Fly Shop. Wading is good. Floating is good. It’s all good.



Good Day on the Watauga

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Brown trout (640x480)

This is about a Trip last weekend with one of guides Jake Eccles. Thought you might enjoy it.

Hi Jake,

Just wanted to drop you a note and pass along some photos of our trip last
Sunday. That sure was a nice rainbow that you put Doc on and we appreciate
the hard work and diligence on your part to make it happen. I think we both
learned a lot fishing with you and from the team at the fly shop. Josh also
gave us some additional pointers using the beetle and a dropper, that he
took the time to tie up for us, that I used all day on Tuesday  to good
effect, ending the day with a nice brown that took the beetle! Doc put me in
a great position to feed it back into its feeding zone and I was very
surprised that it was such a nice fish.

We look forward to fishing with you again, and hope you have a great summer.

Tight Lines,

Bill Coffey
Louisburg, NC

South Holston River Report 5.27.14


Talk to 10 different people, you may get 10 different answers as of the last few days. Great, tough, good, pretty good, not too bad, excellent, fantastic, OK, could be better, could be a lot worse…it is what it is as the river is fishing differently from top to bottom as of now. Why? Because the big hatches of bugs have all but moved on on some sections of river, and the fish are beginning to move back into their small bug patterns such as tiny olives, midges and small scuds…the usual. So some might want to start thinking of other things if they are so daring to venture down river. It can still be very good though.

As for the stars of the show? They are on the move up river and steadily getting better with hatches beginning to get larger around some sections of the upper end. Nice. Dry fly folks seem to be happiest right after the pulse in the afternoon.

Nymphs to keep in mind as we roll into June are: split cases in the sulphur variety, your favorite PT, sulphur soft hackles, BWO nymphs early, scuds and maybe even more scuds depending on the stretch.

Midges? Yes.

Some have been asking if we are going to have high water any time soon. The answer, as of now, is probably not too much. While the lake levels are close to normal, full pool does not always entail a heavy generation schedule. The TVA needs to maintain that lake level throughout the summer. And since we have had a dry spring, the lake has little inflow. So barring any substantial rain, a full release may be out of the question for at least a few more weeks.


Sunday South Holston River Report 5.25.14: Big Fish Edition

29 inch Brown, South Holston, TN  May 22, 2014

“I just wanted to show you a few photos of our day last Tuesday.  An very good estimate of the length was over 28 but just under 29.  I used my rod and wading staff and feel that is very close.  Landed after only about 5 minutes on 6x with a #18 barbless hook.  My version of your “harvester midge” but I now call it the “Pork Chop” midge.  The fish was very co-operative.  After a hard fast wild run down and across, it decided to come back up the small “ditch” at the near side of the river and then got in some rather shallow water.  I was able to get between it and the deeper water and I think it got disoriented being in the shallow water and sort of gave up.  Good for the fish and the net man.  We got a few photos and sent it back to it’s spot.  Clearly, the best fish we have landed and like Mathew said, it may be a long time before we connect with another one like this.
This was Molly’s fish 100% and she handled it perfectly.  It hit her fly when I was on the other side of the river. When I saw it roll out of the deeper water and submarine across the river I noted the look on her face.  The surprise quickly turned serious and she set about doing what she had to do. She does all her own selections and knots, picks her spots and is pretty good at reminding me when I am not following your advice.  She always remembers your suggestions.  Obviously, they have enhanced her skills and success rate.
But I cannot tell you how I value the staff at the shop, especially Mathew.  He has always been very helpful.  And when we floated with Matt our first year we learned a lot about the river and how to fish it.  We had a float trip scheduled with Mathew a while back but when we arrived, TVA had shut off the water and there was no floating to be done. 
Of course we know connecting with a fish like this does involve some luck.  But without the many things we have learned from you and your staff it simply would not have happened. We are responsible for our luck but you guys have added the knowledge to compliment it.”
Many thanks!
Al and Molly Scanlan
Fincastle, VA  

You rule, Molly. A dandy of  a brown for sure. And we thank you and Al for the kind words.

See? All good here on the South Holston River. The midge fishing is making a come back as per usual as we come into the home stretch of May.

  • Sulphers are on the docket. And getting better daily.
  • Nymphing is still the ticket for all day success

Your plan for the coming weeks? Fish with us here on the South Holston River…and the Watauga River too. It’s fun. You’ll like it.


South Holston River Report 5.23.14


If you haven’t broke out the sulphur nymph box by now, it’s definitely time to do so. While the bugs are still holding on a little bit on the lower and middle sections, the upper river is finally beginning to have a break through. The dry/dropper game has been pretty damn good. Trips daily are producing in that fashion. Other methods are doing pretty well to. Like bobber watching. That is certainly a thing to do when there are no bugs.

Nymphing: Weightless nymphs and even sunken emergers have sure played a key role in daily subsurface success. Give it a try if you are so daring. It might be worth it. The fish are pretty locked in on them throughout the river. Top to bottom. Your best bet is THE best bet. Split cases and your favorite PT should be good enough as well. The basics man. Nice.

Dry Fly Game: Some days have been better than others. It’s been a struggle for some. A blast for others. And spotty for most. They should break loose on the upper end any day now. Could today be that day? Tomorrow? Early next week? I’d say probably.

Midges: Ubiquitous as always.

Need stuff? Sulphur stuff? Midge stuff? Stop in on this Memorial Day weekend.

Want sulphurs this June? June may be our best month for the yellow bug. At least it is in my opinion. We have a good number of spots available and plenty of us guides to keep busy. We like staying busy.


South Holston River Report 5.19.14


Water was dirty when Matthew Guinn’s client stuck this fish. As for yesterday, today and beyond? Much better. Pristine even. We need more rain though. I am doing my rain dance. But only in private.

Sulphurs are and will remain the word as we move through this month of May. Nymphs and dries both. Spinners too for those night owls.

Nymphing: Split cases, split cases and split cases. Fish them deep with a bead. Fish them weightless. Experiment. Copperheads and pheasant tails too. You know, the basics. Those nimpers are have all day success for the most part. So if you’re a dry fly guy at heart, give the nymph a try to at least kill some time.

Dry Fly Bite: It’s good. The afternoons have been showing the bulk of the bugs. Most have been pleased. Not everyone though…

Midges: Daily.

The Watauga River

Want to get a jump on some high water sulphur action? The bugs are there on the Watauga River as well. NOW! The sulphurs won’t last quite as long as they do over here on the South Holston River, but they sure put on a show. Wilbur Dam will be running water daily as they gear up for the summer recreational flows. This means it’s a great time to hop in the boat to fish bugs…or we can roll bobbers too as the nymph bite continues to be outstanding over there.


Water should be perfect to fish this weekend..

The South Holston River is NOT Blown out. It should be perfect to fish this weekend. Temperature will be highs in the 60′s . My goodness what a weekend to fish.

This husband and wife caught a bunch of this size Brown Trout and rainbow trout here on the South Holston. And a bunch of 15-16″ Wild fish is good no matter where you go. These were caught during a sulphur hatch.


South Holston AND Watauga River 5.13.14

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Sulphurs on both rivers now. Hooray! We like the yellow bugs. It’s the happy color. Fish sure like them too. The last few days they have been coming off a little bit weaker than we would like, but that is sure change. Promise.

The Watauga River is fishing pretty well still. No more caddis? No worries. The nymph bite has been solid. Sulphurs are the go to right now and should stay that way through the rest of the month and maybe beyond? Let’s go check it out!

As for the mighty South Holston River? White hot. For some anyway. As for the others? Just really good. We’ll take it. Have you heard the word? ‘Sulphur’ is the word. They are slowly but surely making their way up river. Soon, really soon, the folks that frequent the upper river the most will become included in the sulphur action as well. Until then, hold your breath and fish midges and BWO’s if you’re up that way.

We’re floating. We’re wading. We’re fishing daily. It’s a good time to be here in East Tennessee. When will you be here?