Time: 3:30PM – 7:00PM
Location: Boat launch just below dam
Fish Landed: 0
As mentioned in the Beaver Dam Creek post, the telephone report informed us that the South Holston River was carrying elevated flows due to releases from the dam. My host and guide, David L., therefore concluded that we would enjoy better success if we drifted the river and worked streamers by casting to the bank and retrieving. Once we finished fishing Beaver Dam Creek we reversed our course until we reached David’s brother’s house where we reconnected the trailer and boat to the Suburban. A short drive later brought us to the boat launch just downstream of the dam on the South Holston River.
As suggested by the report, the flows lapped over the river bank where it was low, but the water was crystal clear with great visibility. Before we launched the boat, David L. configured two streamer rods with lead core sinking heads and large articulated sculpzilla style flies. David L’s john boat had a keel and outboard motor which meant we did not need to arrange a shuttle pick up for the end of our float; instead we would motor back upstream with the aid of the outboard.
At the start of the float, David powered on the motor, and we moved up the river a short distance to a position just above the bridge and below a low head dam. We shot casts to both sides of the boat with no luck, and then I pulled up the anchor and we began drifting along the bank opposite the boat launch. For the remainder of the three hour trip, David L. toggled between positioning the boat with his oars and fishing. I felt guilty that he was burdened with navigation duties and thus unable to log as much fishing time as me.
I was using one of David’s six weight rods with the sinking head, and the afternoon and evening session evolved into an exercise of slinging the heavy rig to the bank and then rapidly stripping the fly back to the boat. Initially David suggested that I was not stripping fast enough, so I accelerated my strokes, but even with this change in tactics I managed only one momentary hook up with a small brown trout. David switched to a smaller sculpzilla that was not articulated, and after the change he hooked and landed two small brown trout. If he could have relinquished paddling duties, he probably would have landed five or six fish during our float.
Eventually we drifted to a point just above a large bridge crossing, and here we turned around and motored back up the river to the launch site. Much to our surprise, the propeller struck bottom in one relatively shallow riffle stretch, but we still managed to return safely, albeit at a somewhat reduced speed.
The river was beautiful and mostly bordered by bright green leafy woods. I could see that it would be a pleasant river to wade fish when flows were down as it was wide and offered numerous current breaks. I practiced and improved my streamer technique, but the feedback from the denizens of the South Holston River indicates that I still have much to learn.