Trout Fishing South Holston River

Trout Fishing South Holston River

I got a little down time from my business at the end of November. It has been really busy for me this year and it didn't seem like I could get away no matter how hard I tried. My buddy called me and told me it might be time to go fly fishing on the South Holston River again for some big brown trout. The season is approaching for some spawning browns running up the South Holston River. He also had a little honey hole he found slap full of big rainbows if the big browns wouldn't cooperate. So I packed all the fly fishing gear and headed off to Tennessee for 3 days of fly fishing on the South Holston River. This year I treated myself to a good Canon DSLR camera. I have been itching to take it out fly fishing, but just haven't gotten the chance. So I was excited to get this trip in and try out the new camera rig. 


I arrived on a Wednesday evening and the ride up was nothing but rain and fog so thick you couldn't see headlights on cars till they were right in front of you. Needless to say it made a 3.5 hour drive more exciting in my overloaded work van, on slick blinding roads. So after arriving at my buddy's house we decided to go eat. We went to a Chinese restaurant around the corner from his house that serves sushi. We ate and returned to tie some flies and plan for tomorrow.

Thursday morning we put a game plan together since the generation schedules wouldn't allow us a float trip the South Holston River and the honey hole he talked about was blown out because it had rained so much. So we headed off to do some wade fishing. We started off in some areas on the Watauga River where we could wade. Then we hit another stream around the Watauga. It fished really good and we picked up a lot of wild rainbow trout in this stream. We fished there for about an hour while getting rained on, then sleeted on, then snowed on, then sleeted on again, then rained on again. With all that we decided to move to the upper Watauga River. There was a place my buddy wanted to try to get to since the dam had quit generating water by now. We tried to walk down into this area of the river but it was on private property and they had it posted everywhere, so we decided not to go down.

We decided to head back over toward Bee Cliff cabins and try our luck around that area. The water was still moving pretty good, but managed to pick up a few decent trout there. Then we decided to head over to the Siam bridge and fly fish around there for a while. I picked up a few trout here and there and did pretty good.


It was a good long day and time to head back and start putting a game plan together for tomorrow's fishing. This time it looked like the South Holston River generation schedule was going to cooperate, at least for half the day anyway. They were generating from 8am-12pm.

Friday morning we hitched the drift boat up, and drove to the boat ramp. We decided to hit the South Holston river for some big Brown trout. When we got to the boat ramp there was only one boat there putting in. The reason there was no one else on the river hardly is because it was 25°. I guess this managed to keep all the fly fishing guides off the river, since most people don't want to fish when it's cold out. This was great for us though, we only saw two boats on the river besides us all day long. That is a rarity on the South Holston River and we enjoyed every second of it. When we started out at the ramp I took a few photographs because everything was covered in ice and made a cool shot. Hard to operated the camera with frozen hands though. The sun started to warm things up and the weather was certainly clear this day. While we didn't catch any big brute brown trout as hoped, we did manage to catch about 26 decent sized rainbow trout and brown trout to the boat for the day.


We had really watch the water levels on this trip because we had to get to the take-out before the water level dropped so low we couldn't get the boat out. This boat take-out is not on the map, it just happens to be a steep drop-off between two trees off of a road in the middle of nowhere. So we were timing it so that we could ride the tail end of the generations high water to the take-out. Luckily it worked out, otherwise we would be stuck pushing the boat over rocks in the South Holston River, which didn't sound like fun to either of us and have a heck of a time getting the boat out of the water. It was a good day of fly fishing the South Holston River.


We headed out Saturday morning and looked at the water levels to see if we can hit the honey hole he kept talking about where these bruiser rainbows where all stacked up. Sure enough the water levels were right where they need to be, so we headed over to the secret spot. All I can say is wow...this spot surely did not disappoint. Most all these rainbows were close to 20 inches or above. We caught fish after fish from the one hole, it was sick. We decided to try another spot and see how it did. It has one bruiser of a rainbow in it and my buddy hooked up with a nice size rainbow trout. It took him a while to land that one. I ended up chasing him down stream so I could get a picture of it. Finally he landed it and I grabbed a shot. Seemed a good time to stop and call it a day since I had to head back and had a long drive ahead. While we didn't find any Big Browns we did find some gigantic Rainbow trout.