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A Fishing Trip on the South Holston River

On June 20th I went to the South Holston River for a four day trip.  It was a Thursday, and there had been a lot of rain in the mountains of Tennessee and scattered rains around the Charlotte area.

It looked like we would have good weather with no new rain, and our plan was to arrive late morning Thursday and fish in the afternoon. Then we would have all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning for quality fishing.   Things didn't work out to our liking.  The South Holson is a tail race river, and with all the rain the previous days, the dam was forced to release water, and there was no way to fish the river that afternoon.

We stopped by the South Holston Fly Shop to get the latest run down on what the fish were biting and what the owners of the shop thought would happen to the water flow in the days ahead.  We always hear that the South Holston fish only take small flies in the size 18 and 20 range, and that a lot of the conventional stuff we use on the Mitchell or Wilson Creek, just do not work. 

I had watched and tied some of the flies recommended by the South Holston Fly shop.  Their videos are very well done and pretty easy to follow. I had tied some Sulphur Split Backs, Puff Daddys, and some Scuds prior to the trip. 

Tying scuds for this trip was my own idea as the last time I was in the in the fly shop a year ago, a customer came in and wanted to buy scuds.  My ears perked up. He said Scuds were all anyone was catching any trout down by the weir.  As a note of explanation to those who might not know, scuds are small crustaceans that resemble rolly poly bugs.  The split back emulates the wings starting to emerge from the wing case. With the Sulphur, one sees yellow in the center of the wing case back,  and with the  PMD olive spit case, one sees pale green.  These are called triggers, and the more triggers the more fish you will catch.

Because of the water release, we had to be on the water at 6:00 AM and off at 10:00 on Friday, off at 11:00 on Saturday, and 12:00 noon on Sunday.  It would have been nice to break up the fishing day and also get to fish at dusk when the big browns are supposed to be biting.  We still had some great fishing and got to swap lies and tie flies in the afternoons.

I caught quite a few fish over the tree days, and the best were a 16, 17, and an absolutely gorgeous 18 inch brown.  One of the fellows on the trip decided to take a fish home to eat (legal in Tennessee), and I had the chance to see first hand what a brown trout really eats. Below is a photo or two taken and true enough everything that came out of the fish was about the size of a 16 or 18 hook.


stomach_ shrimplike_0684

The photo above shows little shrimp like crustacean, note two flies in the top of the photo are a 16 and an 18.


 The second photo directly above shows the entire contents of the stomach and shows scuds, nymphs, and a the little shrimp like critters that must be a scud also.


Pink Pearl from Orvis, a little pheasant tail fibers, and 1/8th strips of lead cut from top of older wine bottle covers. I start with a thread base and wrap the narrow strip long ways over the top of the hook.  I then do the same but make it shorter and repeat the same process.  I wrap each successive wrap with thread to bind the lead in place and then cover all of that with super glue.  The idea is to get a tapered body and leave the hook gap open.  Next I tie in the tail fibers, wrap the body with Pink Pearl.  Up to this point I have used black thread and change over to red thread for the head.  In this case I use Orvis White Ice Dubbing UV pearl.  This has a slightly blue cast in the water.  On later modifications I use the left over Pink Pearl from the body wrap for a wing case, but don’t think it makes much difference to the fish.

Below are some more photos of the innards of the trout.  You might be able to pick out some specific insects.

soho trout 0676

sohotrout 0680

    Below is a gray scud I tied prior to going that also caught some fish.  I think it is a size 18.