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Mixed reports on Cherokee bass bite, unseasonable BWO hatches fascinate area fly fishers

September 11th, 2015 12:30 pm by George Thwaites

Mixed reports on Cherokee bass bite,  unseasonable BWO hatches fascinate area fly fishers

Rod Colyer at Colgard Outdoor Sports in Norton has gotten mixed reports on the bass fishing in Cherokee Reservoir, where the water surface temperatures have been around 86 degrees — roughly 10 degrees higher than normal for this time of the year.

The good news is that a pretty decent crankbait bite has held on up the lake into the river. Chartreuse cranks that run in the 6- to 8-foot range have been the go-to baits.

“Anywhere you can find rock or riprap,” Colyer said.

 Down the lake, the fishing has been tough. Some anglers have beaten the odds by fishing the double-tailed Gary Yamamoto Hula Grubs. Green pumpkin has been the most consistent color and most anglers have been throwing Texas rigs.

Speaking of which, the nighttime worm bite has been strong on Douglas Reservoir, where the big worms — think Zoom Ol’ Monster — have been getting the job done. Again, green pumpkin has been a winning color choice for these soft plastic baits.

If Texas-rigging, don’t forget to peg the sinker (which some anglers forego, and miss some fish, accordingly). Colyer is an old-school wooden toothpick pegger, but his shop sells lots of EZ Pegs, which obviously have something going for them.
Other customers are using bobber stoppers with a little red bead to peg the sinker. Different strokes.

Over on the Clinch River, smallmouth anglers are still reporting excellent catches casting the quarter-ounce Big O crankbait in crawdad colors.

John Slagle at Lake View Dock on South Holston reservoir reported a phenomenal crush of recreational boat traffic on Labor Day weekend. There will be holdouts as long as it stays warm enough. But even with Boone out of the picture for most rec boaters, traffic ought to slow down considerably as autumn approaches.

Trout anglers continue to enjoy success on South Holston Lake, both fishing under the lights at night and trolling during the daytime.

On the fly fishing beat, Huck Huckaba at Eastern Fly Outfitters in Piney Flats said the Blue Winged Olives turning up on both the South Holston and Watauga trout tailwaters have been an intriguing development.

BWOs are typically a cold weather hatch on both rivers.

“We’re still seeing sulphurs on the South Holston and huge amounts of midges. But Blue Wings are showing up and everywhere I’ve been around them, fish have been eating them,” said Huckaba, who noted that generating schedules have been mostly amenable to wading anglers.

He’s also heard talk of Blue Quills being in the mix, but most of those seem to be showing up in the trophy section of the Watauga, according to some avid amateur entomologist on that river.

Huckaba admits that his own taxonomic skills are pretty generalized, but believes the BWOs being encountered elsewhere are variations of the baetis mayflies with which local anglers are already familiar.

“They’re a little bit lighter and a little bit bigger ... something like a size 16,” he said. “Who knows what’s going on with this? We used to have Hendricksons all over the Watauga and we haven’t seen those for years.”

You’d think the mountain streams would be pretty thirsty, but fishing parties returning from Johnson County creeks have reported very nice outings. Popular flies on those smaller streams include Todd Burleson’s Tennessee Wulff and the Lime Humpy.

George Thwaites is a sports and outdoors writer for the Kingsport Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KTNSptsThwaites. Send your fishing photos to: outdoors@timesnews.net.

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