South Holston and Watauga River

Blue Wing nymphs remain to be the theme. Small ones too in the size 20-24 range. Soft hackles are also catching fish as they typically do with great regularity.

Midge fishing? It’s January on a tailwater! This means they are eating them by the bunches as well. Expect to go that route both early and late in the day.

Not catching the numbers of fish you think you should be? Sometimes A lot of times on these rivers, it’s not necessarily about what you are using, but how you are using it, and where it is in the water column. That is definitely the case on low water, particularly of late where that perfect dead drift just isn’t enough sometimes. Many times the fish on these rivers, the fish like to key in on emerging or swimming insects. So getting your bugs to behave like that can be key. One way to skin that cat is by throwing hard stack mends at the bottom end of your drift. By doing this, it can cause the strike indicator to twitch just enough to make those flies come alive, while at the same time, maintaining a straight drift.

Some of the best nymph fishing of the year is coming up in February and March on both the Watauga River as well as the South Holston. The closed sections will also be opening back up on February 1st on the South Holston River. We have plenty of dates available for some guided fishing this winter. It may be cold sometimes. Windy too. But the fishing can be as good as it gets. There may be no better way to learn these rivers than to fish with a guide. Honest.




Local Stuff

It’s been such a mild and wet January, the streams are getting full and the fishing has been good! Come try it. Even some bugs during the warmer parts of the day. Attractors, nothing fancy.

Come see us here at Highland Outfitters in Linville, North Carolina. Where there is literally some of the best trout fishing in the region, if not the country, in all directions. But we’re a little biased…



Highland Outfitters Team

Fishing Good? You bet.

Cold? Sort of, but not really.

Two things change more often than not on the Watauga and South Holston Rivers : the weather and the release schedules. The fishing tends to remain the the same through the heart of winter. The fishing is good. Really good for some.

While most are nymphing for the better part of the day on both high and low water, there is some dry fly fishing to be had. Blue Wings have been present almost every afternoon. They can be seen during the warmest parts of the day (Noon-2ish). Cripple patterns and standard Comparadun’s have been a good bet to get those fish to eat. Timing can be everything with them. Approach can be important too.

As for the nymphing? Do it! Lots of BWO nymphs running around with a lot of fish eating them. Patterns have not mattered too much as long as they are on the skinny and small side. A soft hackle as the secondary fly or dropper wouldn’t hurt either. A lot of fish have been eating at the end of the drift just as the fly begins to pick up off the bottom. A slight twitch in the mend has also gotten some fish to eat.

Midges? They always will eat a midge in January. Black flies too.

Streamers? Some still throwing them. That bite should pick up again soon as we get closer to Spring. Try it, you may like it.

The Watauga River will be off.  Hooray! The South Holston River seems like it may be all over the place as far as release times. Know before you go… As for the rest of the week? The weekend? A good chance for some wading. Fingers crossed for those who #wadeforit. The boats will stay as a consistent option as well.

Local and Private Water

Water! We have it! Finally…

We have had some snowfall and rain the last few weeks here in the High Country and it could not have come at a better time for our small stream fish. With the mild weather are expecting, the little creeks should be a lot of fun. Expect the go heavier for the most part, but don’t rule out some dry fly stuff in the afternoons! Little Black Stones, a few Blue Wings and maybe even some confused Quill Gordons with the temps approaching 60 by the weekend!

Shameless Sales Plug

Select items around the shop on sale. YETI, Simms and more here at Highlands Outfitters. Guide trips available as well this Winter and Spring. Float, wade or both? You can do it all here with thousands of miles of trout water in all directions. We promise, you won’t leave disappointed. There is a little something for everyone here in Western North Carolina and East Tennessee.

Highlands Outfitters Team


The first real shot of cold weather is here in the High Country and around the shop. Snow on the way! Windy too this weekend. Wind is for kites… Most today are probably going to work, staying warm and reading this.  Others? Fishing. The fishing has been rock solid  on the South Holston River.  High and low water have both fished well for the most part these last few days. Big fish too! Scuds, varieties of midges, blue wing nymphs and eggs have all caught scores of fish for most folks. As for today? High water. Lots of it on the South Holston, but still very wade-able on the Watauga River.  Although the snow today may generate a few bugs on high water, the name of the game has remained deep nymphing. Some tossing streamers with lots of success too! They won’t tell you though, they’re a discrete bunch those streamer fisherman.

Some fish eating on top to keep the dry fly gang guessing on the tailwaters. Our first guess this time of year is always blue wings. It can be a cast and hope kind of scenario at times, though. So hope for the best, try the nymph, or go watch TV on the couch…or keep casting. Your choice.

We have plenty of openings to float or wade as the year gets underway. Along with plenty of bored guides. We can row or wade and entertain you with bad jokes. You’ll catch some fish too. Come fish with us this Winter!



Private Water and Small Streams?

Cold here in the Boone and Linville areas! But fishing okay during the warmer parts of the day. The deeper the better with your nymph rig. Your favorite attractor pattern with a small pheasant tail should do the trick. Small stoneflies are also a good option.  Slow water is better too as fish tend to be lethargic and hug the bottom this time of year. But there are some great opportunities for some large fish as well!

Sales Plug

We still have some leftover Simms items on sale for 25% here at Highland Outfitters! Hoodies, jackets and more! Also some other select items as well. Come by the shop or call for details for anything all things fly fishing around the High Country in East Tennessee!

Highland Outfitters Team