Tailwaters- South Holston and Watauga River Report:

We hope everyone has had a great holiday season and a great start to 2018. It’s very cold as I write this, too cold really. With the temps hardly getting out of the single digits today and tomorrow, and a wind chill hovering around or below zero, it is safe to say that most won’t venture out for the next couple of days unless they are hitting the slopes. The Tennessee side will be a little warmer, but not by much the next few days. HOWEVER, once the temperature levels out a little bit as they are expected to by next week, we will be back on the South Holston or the Watauga as per usual. Float trips to either tailwater offer some of the best trout fishing the East has to offer year round, and act as a bit of an oasis for those who want to get their winter trout fix. And the great thing is, they are fishing about as well as they will all winter with clockwork and strong baetis/BWO hatches and even better nymphing on a daily basis.


Patterns We Like:

  • 18-22 BWO split cases
  • 16-20 BWO soft hackles
  • 20-24 zebra midges (purple,black,brown)
  • 20-22 Tailwater Tiny
  • 16-20 Scuds (orange, olive, tan, gray)
  • 18-22 PT’s (no flash)
  • 18-20 RS2
  • 18-22 WD40
  • 20-22 Sawyer Pheasant Tail (Natural, olive)

All fished behind slightly larger nymphs or attractors.

Dry/dropper set ups have also been quite effective in the flats and skinny riffles.

Local Streams

Lots of hard water locally around the High Country. It has been damn cold with night time temps dipping into the teens and single digits since Christmas. For those who want to do it themselves, finding open water of course is key.  If you go, head low (lowever in elevation). The wider drainages will have a little bit of open water like the North Toe or some of the more open stretches of the Wilson. But overall, much of the small streams are solid ice. The Watauga River around Valle Crucis and Sugar Grover (North Carolina side) are almost completely frozen over.

Be careful, stay warm  and avoid those ice shelves.

Guide Tips for the Area Streams:

  • Attractors, attractors, attractors! (Y2K’s, eggs, worms, large stonefly patterns, Pat’s Rubber Leg)
  • Fish smaller nymphs or midges as your dropper, the basics can suffice (small PT’s, zebra midges, Rainbow Warriors, etc.)
  • Add weight, then add some more
  • Hit them in the face with it, they won’t be moving too far to eat
  • Bring your favorite Simms flask (we sell them!)

Book a float trip this winter!

Give us a call to start 2018 in the boat on some of the finest trout water in the Southeast! We have some open dates throughout January and February. If you can stand some cold weather, it can be some of the finest and most rewarding fishing of the year! And if you are coming up to ski, it is a nice way to escape the crowded slopes for a day or two.

 Give Us A Call: 828-733-2181

Highland Outfitters Team