With the Delayed Harvest waters freshly stocked once again, the fishing locally has been as good as it gets! Valle Crucis is yet again loaded with hungry trout that can be caught fishing smaller nymphs and midgets dropped below an attractor such as squirmy worms or Pats Rubber Legs. On warmer days, dry droppers can also be equally as effective and can help prevent spooking more finicky fish. Additionally, the Hatchery Supported sections are now officially open again and will stay that way until the last day in February.

The tail waters down in Tennessee are also fishing exceptionally and still heating up as we approach the much-anticipated caddis hatch. Trips are filling up quickly for spring so be sure to give us a call to get yours booked today!

Don’t let the chill of winter keep you from getting out and enjoying all the spectacular trout fishing the Highcountry has to offer. The delayed harvest waters, such as Valle Crucis Park, are still fishing well after being stocked in early November. With water temperatures dropping, look for fish holding up in deeper, slower pockets. Also, with the lower water levels right now, try downsizing your leader and tippet to avoid spooking fish in the slow, clear water. During those colder winter weeks, also look to fish during the warmer periods of the day, as this slight rise in temperature can stimulate the trout to start feeding.

Furthermore, the tailwaters down in Tennessee are also fishing exceptionally well, with the browns spawning and hungry as ever! We offer trips year round, which can make for the perfect holiday gift. So don’t hesitate to book a float trip for the chance to catch the trout of a lifetime!

We have been staying busy here at Highland Outfitters. Both the South Holston River and the Watauga River, for the most part, have been nothing short of spectacular. With the sulphurs in full swing on the South Holston River, matched with a great morning beetle bite, the dry fly fanatics have had nothing but great opportunities to catch great fish on the surface.

The nymphing and dry/dropper game has been the go to scenario for the most part on both tailwaters. Scuds, midges and baetis early have also produced a large quantity of fish.

The big event and news, however is the upcoming sluice on the South Holston River. During a sluice event, bug activity tends to explode, and both the quality and quantity of fish goes from great to unreal, really quickly.  The even better news is that this will be an estimated 320 event. So almost a year of ideal flows to fish from a boat, or even wade on the entire river. We can’t wait, but we’ll let the photos of just a few of the fish caught during the last month by guides Joe Kostura and Matt Maness speak for themselves.


Highland Outfitters Team

Fine fishing in the High Country and our tailwaters to the West. The locals are both full of water and fish. The South Holston River and Watauga Rivers have their sulphur hatches beginning to fire up, and we can’t be any more pleased about both!

The South Holston River 

The South Holston may just be the more inconsistent of the two rivers that we frequent when it comes to the fishing right now. One day tough, the next trip is great. The fishing will right itself sooner rather than later once the flows from the TVA remain consistent as they have been then last couple of days. The bigger factor has been the weather.  The famed sulphurs are not quite at their peak yet. The big summer hatches are still to come, but fish have definitely begun eating their fair share of sulphur nymphs in the afternoon. Expect high water nymphing with a good bit of weight in the coming weeks with a few sporadic pods of fish looking for those afternoon bugs.

Watauga River

The Watauga is white hot right now with a bulk of our floats heading to the “beautiful river”. Sulphurs are pretty consistent and about to be at their peak as per usual over their as they tend to peak earlier than the sulphurs on the South Holston. Expect LOTS of fish. it has definitely been a numbers game on the Watauga with counts frequntly exceeding 40 or 50–and often times more! Interested?



Lots of water. The rivers and creeks have certainly been in flux, but the fishing hasn’t. The Yellow Sallies are on their way! As soon as we have some consistent warm weather, there will be plenty of afternoons where they are bound to break loose and show themselves. In my opinion, if you know the right places, they can certainly provide some of the best dry fly fishing in the High Country. The DH streams are still holding strong. But remember, the first Saturday in June is coming in hot! So come enjoy ’em while you can!

Come by and fish with us here at Highland Outfitters. Or simply stop by and load up on stuff and knowledge for all things fly fishing in the High Country and East Tennessee


Highland Outfitters Team

Full day floats: $395

2 person full day wade: $325

1 person full day wade: $295


Fast and furious are how both of our tailwaters over the state line are fishing. We don’t need to say much more–but we will.

Watauga River

The caddis are beginning to happen. There, we said it. The chaos is beginning on the Watauga River.  Or as we like to call it, it’s football season (fat fish). Sub-surface anyway. Larvae, pupae and soft hackles are spanking fish right now. The big hatch has not quite happened and may still be a week or two away. But the fish are simply eating pupae with wreckless abandon, and that will be the case for the rest of April and May until the next great transition happen
s–sulphurs. The yellow bug. Nice.

South Holston River

Speaking of yellow bugs, a few sulphurs are being spotted throughout the river. With a bulk of those sightings being spotted the farther down river you go, which is normal. They will work their way up river as the weather warms up a bit more. However, the main focus is the wide open blue wing and scud bite in the morning. Then, most are switching sulphur nymphs as the temps climb in the afternoons.  Fast and furious nymphing and dry/dropper fishing. Can’t beat it.










The local Delayed Harvest streams will get their next round of fish today and early next week. If one likes to wack a bunch of fish in short order, this will definitely be the weekend.

Join us here in the heart Southeast trout fishing at Highland Outfitters. Let us know how we can help! Stop in, call or book a trip. We are more than happy to accommodate.

Joe Kostura

Highland Outfitters  Team



Full day floats: $395

2 person full day wade: $325

1 person full day wade: $295

Come enjoy some of the best trout fishing in the Southeast, if not the entire East Coast at an amazing rate for a limited time!

A trip booked before May 1st can be scheduled for ANY fishing trip on the South Holston and Watauga River’s during 2017! You won’t regret it. Come experience some of the best all around trout fisheries in the Southeast with the best caddis and sulphur hatches possibly in the lower 48!

The Report:

Winter still has a little bit of a grip on us here in the High Country and around the shop at Highland Outfitters. That’s okay though, we need the precipitation to have some sustained water levels this summer. As for the fishing? As good as it gets for March on many of our area streams and tailwaters.



South Holston River:

The South Holston has been fishing well. Up until recently, much of the fishing has been out of the boat on high water. Lots of fish being caught with a few nice fish finding their way to the net. With the erratic schedule, low water fishing has been limited to the upper end for the most part after thhe TVA turns the wheel off in the early afternoon. Lots of olives and midges. Standard for this time of year. LOTS OF LOW WATER WADE FISHING opportunities to come though. Dry fly fishing has been spotty, but heavy nymph rigs on high water and lighter nymph and dry/dropper rigs are the theme on low water.

Watauga River

Seems to be the busier of the two tailwaters as of late. The Blue Wing Olive bite has been outstanding with the hatches coming off like clock work around 1 o’clock or so, and fishing with midges early and late has been great as well. Scuds have also been a great option for those who frequent the upper and middle stretches. Lots of them this time of year. Or should I say, all year? Most anglers and guides alike, however, are waiting on the main event–the caddis hatch. This will be bring folks from all around the region. It truly is a spectacle. If you haven’t seen it, we certainly recommend it. It is truly some of the best nymphing and dry fly fishing of the year on the Watauga…honest. Every single fish caught will be fat and pot bellied, loaded with caddis. Can you not tell at Highland Outfitters, we are excited about caddis?



Delayed Harvest/Small Streams

They are all stocked and fishing well. Water levels are PRIME! Standard fly fair is exceptional. Big PT’s, small PT’S, Prince Nymphs, or your favorite attractor should be sufficient.

Come gives us a a visit or call the shop. Highland Outfitters can certain fulfill your needs on your next visit to the High Country or East Tennessee.

Highland Outfitters Team

Shameless Guide Trip Promotion:

We have a Spring Tailwater Special!

Book a full day guide trip on the South Holston or Watauga River with us before May 1st and you will receive a great rate!

Full Day Float: $395

2 Person Wade:$325

1 Person Wade:$295

A guide trip can be scheduled for ANY DAY in 2017 as long as it is put on the books and scheduled BEFORE May 1st. DO IT! These are truly some of the best tailwater fisheries in the country…but, we’re just a little biased.

South Holston River:

Fishing really well. But it usually always is. The South Holston River has been the definition of consistency over the last few weeks. The precursor to the World famous sulphur hatch is happening right now-the World famous Blue Wing Olive nymphal drift is happening. Big nymphs and small. Nymphs in sizes 16-22 are the norm for this time of year. A big range to guess as to which size bug they are taking, but that’s what makes it fun right? This time of year also brings some great hatches on low water. Which of course makes for some great dry fly fishing. Some of the easiest of the year in my opinion. But experience it for yourself! Midges are also proving to be effective as per usual. Midge patterns in the 20-24 size range have proven to keep any angler catching fish all day long. Honest.

Watauga River:

It’s almost that time on the Watauga! Caddis time that is. The most anticipated spectacle of the year is almost here. Caddis casings and larvae are beginning to peak, and they are certainly covering up the river bottom. Fish are also beginning to turn their focus to them as well. With the warm winter we have had, they may happen a little earlier than they have historically. If the warm weather continues it could be any week now! Usually we see them begin around the beginning of April, be at their peak by the middle of April, and then transition into the sulphur hatch by the first or second week of May. This year? It could be earlier! And who knows, maybe last longer? These rivers can certainly provide amazing surprises. Come experience one of the East Coasts most amazing hatches. We promise you won’t regret it. The dry fly fishing is amazing, and the nymph bite can also be some of the easiest nymph fishing you may ever experience…just sayin’. Oh, and lot’s of big fish on dry flies as well. Who doesn’t love that?


 <<<Typical Caddis scene on the Watauga River…

Local Water/Delayed Harvest

They stocked! Most streams at least. There are a few that still need fish, but most streams have been stocked with their first round of fish of the Spring. The North Carolina Delayed Harvest program is certainly a well documented and well managed program that provides fun and A LOT of fish to anglers of all kinds with literally hundreds of miles across the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Small streams are also on fire. Lots of dry fly and dry/dropper opportunities.

Highland Outfitters

South Holston River:

The high water fishing, mostly nymphing has been good to great since the flows and schedule has stabled a bit. Some have been throwing streamers with success and rolling a few big fish to boot. But most are still sticking to the heavy stuff dangled underneath an indicator. Some are finding it a little tough during the falling water when they shut the water off, but fish can certainly be caught during that time if you hit it just right–most of the time. Sometimes the fish and bugs just don’t respond to the change. Part of the deal sometimes on the South Holston when the schedule and flows become inconsistent.

Low water up high has been solid as per usual this time of year if the water is shut off early enough. Expect to midge. your favorite zebra midge will do just fine.

Watauga River:

They have begun a random two hour burp of water on the Watauga River over the last week. Will that continue? Only the powers that be know for sure, but they have been running for those two hours at different times every day. Sometimes 3am, sometimes 1pm. Just continue to watch and plan around it if you decide to wade over there. Plenty of wading opportunities regardless.

As for the fishing? Really great. Blue Wings coming off daily like clockwork durin

g the early afternoons lasting for a solid couple of hours with plenty of fish looking up for the dry fly enthusiast. The nymphing has been a staple for all day fun as well with the fish still keying in on a steady diet of blue wings and midges. Think blue wings in the faster stuff, midges in the slow stuff.

Local/Private Water

Solid! Still mild for February here in the High Country of North Carolina. Snowy sometimes, rainy sometimes, cold sometimes, warm-ish sometimes. That can actually make for some fun winter small stream fishing! Some dry fly opportunities during the warmer parts of the day can be had as well. Got to love that for February! Can’t beat it! Delayed Harvest streams being restocked March 1st too!

Sales Plug:

We have select items on sale, but the BIG SPRING SALE is coming soon. Stay tuned for details. We promise to let you know soon. Waders, apparel, even flies? Everybody likes flies that are on sale, especially streamers

Highland Outfitters Team



South Holston River:

A lot of high water fishing. They are beginning to back off of the release, but it may still be more of a place to be for the drift boat. The high water nymphing has been outstanding for those who love to nymph and watch the bobber. Blue wings, blue wings, blue wings with a lot of weight…


Watauga River:

Staying steady with the flows at around 160 cfs, this has made for great low water wading as well as having the entire river floatable with a boat. The Blue wing olive hatches in the early afternoon have been nothing short of great at times. LOTS OF FISH looking up. The nymph bite also staying hot. Bigger nymphs in comparison to the South Holston can be employed. Really, anything olive has done it. No joke, it has been quite simple at times. We love it! Midge fishing early and late has been fun too.

Small/Local Water

It’s been about as good as it gets for February! This mild weather has had the streams fishing more like early spring rather than mid winter. Dry fly fishing in February on a freestone? Some are certainly tossing them! Adams, small stimulators, etc…than standard fair are all having fish look up.

Delayed Harvest streams still have some strong pods of fish. The next stocking is only a couple of weeks away! Fishing will be officially in full swing here in the High Country come March. Great trout fishing in all directions from the shop here at Highland Outfitters!

Spring sales will be announced soon. Lots of items to choose from. Simms, Scott, Echo, Lamson, Nautilus and much much more. Until then, check out the store in the link here…https://boonesflyshop.com/flyshop/

We hope you make us at least a small part of your next trip to the High Country. Or come ask for a trip! Caddis are coming, sulphurs too on the tailwaters. Or, we can show you around our favorite local or private rivers. Options galore here at Highland Outfitters. You can’t go wrong with any of them.





Highland Outfitters Team



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