Hybrids, like this specimen Morgan Seymore of Kingsport caught this past spring, are still being caught on Boone and Cherokee reservoirs. But the bass bite has slowed down almost everywhere.
If you like to fish for bass on area TVA reservoirs, the bad news is all-around bite is relatively slow.
The good news: this is normal.
“Our lakes are fairly small and by this time of the year the fish have been pressured a great deal,” observed Rex Pendergrass at Watson’s Marine in Bluff City.
“Take into account all the boat traffic and the pleasure craft traffic and all the lures that have been dangled in front of them since March. Then add hot water.
“We’re in the dog days. It’s always slow this time of the year.
And the doldrums usually extend well into the month of September. It might stick its toe into October. Then a couple of hard frosts start to turn things around.
It’s not that bass fishing is nonexistent. It’s just a lot harder. They’re scattered and harder to pinpoint.
About the best lake going lately has been Cherokee. And that’s with qualifications.
“Hopefully the cooler nights we’ve been having is going to help, because I fished a little Saturday morning and every fish was either Carolina rig or drop-shot,” said Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton.
“Of course, I was in the back, so that’s about all I could do,” he joked.
Cherokee’s water level is dropping rapidly. It looks ugly, Colyer admitted, but it’s gradually uncovering some of the autumn holes he’ll look forward to getting into later.
One kind of fishing that has shown up nicely on Cherokee has been the hybrid bite. Anglers have gotten into schools of fish in the 5-pound range trolling Strike King 6XD and Norman DD-22 crankbaits.
“One of the guys with me caught some on chartreuse, but the shad-colored ones were doing a lot better,” Colyer said. “They weren’t on the main channel. They were going into the creeks off the main channel ... a lot of baitfish were in there. Most of the hybrids were in 30 feet of water.”
Hybrids and stripers both have been sporting fare on Boone Reservoir, where the fabulous summer bass bite has finally relented a little.
These have been great days for fly fishers, who continue to catch stripers and hybrids both on Boone, but are guarding their choice locations jealously.
“Guys are being really secretive, but they have been really successful on the hybrids,” said Huck Huckaba at Eastern Fly Outfitters in Piney Flats.
“We’ve got a customer who showed us pictures of four or five doubles, all in one night, on the fly. They’re still catching them.
He also noted that stripers and hybrids are still being spotted far upstream in both the Watauga and South Holston tailwater rivers. It might be the new normal.
Turning our attention to trout, Huckaba was happy to report healthy sulphur mayfly hatches on the South Holston tailwater during both high and low water — and good fish are eating them.
The top sulphur fly for that river has been the Puff Daddy, which in his shop have been outselling Comparaduns by a significant margin.
“I don’t know why. The fly was intended to skate over picky fish that won’t eat on a dead drift. But you float a Puff Daddy on a dead drift and they’ll take it. Maybe it’s because it rides so high,” he said.
Todd Boyer at Mahoney’s Sportsman’s Paradise in Johnson City reports that beetle patterns aren’t producing on the South Holston but the Black Ant is still good for against-the-bank terrestrial fishing.
“On the Watauga, there have been some Blue Winged Olives hatching, Size 20, which is kind of rare,” Boyer said. “We still have a few sulphurs and some caddis flying around.”
Most anglers on that river are getting it done with tandem nymph rigs.
He has no solid reports of the mountain trout streams, which suggests to him that it’s good and people are keeping their mouths shut. If he were going, he’d take along a selection of Stimulators, Prince Nymphs, large Hare’s Ears, Royal Wulffs and even some small hopper patterns.
George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Kingsport Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KTNSptsThwaites. Send your fishing photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org powered by Disqus