South Holston Spawning Regulations

I wanted to write a blog post about the spawning sections on the South Holston River ¬†since finding this information can be difficult. The signs on the actual river are hard to find and even harder to read unless you’re within three feet of one, and every time I try to pull this information up online I can never seem to easily find it. Make sure to plan your trips accordingly during this time.

Spawning season begins at the South Holston River on November 1 and ends February 1. During that time, you are not allowed to drop anchor or fish in two sections. If you are caught fishing in these sections it will result in a heavy fine and appropriate shaming by anyone around you.

To make this easier, you can use a phone map application to allow your map to find your location on the water. A pin should drop wherever you are and show where you are in relation to the graphics below. I am also providing approximate GPS coordinates of the beginning and end of the sections. These can also be typed into your phone map.

The first closure begins on the upper section, starting at bottom creek (GPS 36.504400, -82.110581) and ending at Hickory Tree Bridge on 44 (GPS 36.515955, -82.136200).  

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Upper closure РBottom Creek to Hickory Tree Bridge 

The second closure begins on the lower section, starting at the tip of the island above Webb Bridge (There is a beautiful house that sits on the middle of this island that’s hard to miss, GPS 36.488261, -82.195197) and ends at the bottom of the island below Weaver Pike Bridge (this one can be trickier if you don’t know the names of the bridges, but just pay close attention to where you are on the river in relation to this image. GPS 36.482244, -82.205116)

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Lower closure РBottom Creek to Hickory Tree Bridge 

Finally, I wanted to show you an image of the entire river in relation to both spawning sections. If you are floating the upper section (grates to big springs) you will run into the upper spawning section. If you are floating the lower section (big springs to rock hold or bluff city) you will run into the lower spawning section.

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Upper and lower closures in relation to the entire river. The pin at the top indicates Holston View Dam Rd near the Weir Dam.

I hope you find this information helpful while planning your trip to the South Holston!

South Holston: Hickory Tree Bridge

 

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This section of the South Holston is referred to as Hickory Tree Bridge or Steel Bridge because of the old steel bridge cascading over the river. This section can be accessed by parking at the Central Holston Christian Church and then walking down a small trail across the road, over the guard rails and down to the water. Keep in mind the parking lot for the church is off limits on Sundays and Wednesdays for church activities. This trail is pretty steep, but the other area surrounding this section is private.

I usually start by casting into the big pool below the small rapid with a nymph rig if I don’t see any dry fly action. Start by casting a few feet in front of you at the top of the stretch and let your flies dead drift down, then recast into the middle of the stretch, and then recast into the further section.

I find the most success while dead drifting my rig on the outside edge of the current – your flies should still be in the current, but just beside the edge of the eddy line.

South Holston trout can be very particular. Try to learn what flies work the best for each season, or start by flipping over rocks and seeing what kind of bugs are underneath. If nothing seems to be working, I usually default to a 18-20 midge (black, tan, olive, purple- sometimes one color works better than others but it’s a trial and error process) behind a squirmy worm. Make sure to weight your line accordingly. The current is faster in this pool so you need to make sure your flies are getting down fast enough. If I use a squirmy worm I’ll add one light split shot above it.

Watch for rising trout in the afternoon. Typically you can count on hatch starting around 11am if you want to sling dries. I always suggest having an arsenal of size 14-18 sulphurs, puff daddies (learn how to tie puff daddies here,) cripples, and emergers.

The address for the church is 261 Sand Bar Rd, Bristol, TN 37620.

Thanks for stopping by! Remember to check out the generation schedule here before hitting the river!

 

 

South Holston: Weir Dam

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If you’re a beginner, teaching a beginner, or find happiness in catching easy stockers all day, below the Weir Dam is a great section for you.

The best place to fish at this section is found by crossing the river and casting along the bank, especially underneath the overhanging trees. Sometimes the water looks shallow, but there are some deeper pockets that larger fish hide in. The biggest fish I caught here was right above a shallow section, so don’t be afraid to explore all parts of the water.

Below the bridge the water can get deep, so you can follow the trail outside of the water beside of the bridge and fish the stretch above the grates. This water is extremely slow, so the right fly and tippet size is very important here if you’re going to be successful.

If you hear the sirens start to go off, make sure to get out quickly because the water rises very fast when the dam starts generating. Here is the South Holston generation schedule, which is updated daily. The times are always subject to change, so make sure to keep a close eye on the generation schedule, even until the minute you step in the water.

Most of the water is pretty shallow in the top area above the bridge so I use a short dropper or it’ll get hung up on the bottom. The water here is cold year round since it comes from the bottom of the lake. Bring your waders, pants and wool socks because it can get cold.

 

The South Holston can be frustrating at times. Later in the season the trout get smart, so try to perfect your fly presentation for when the time comes. Long leaders and light tippet go a long way when they’re being finicky. Stay aware of the bugs that are flying around and underneath the rocks – there are 9,000 trout per mile in the South Holston. If you’re not catching fish, you’re doing something wrong.

Keep an arsenal of various flies with you at all times. There is no worse feeling than being in the middle of a sulphur hatch with no sulphurs!

Here are some flies I keep on me at all times:

PMD’s, parachute sulphur, CDC sparkle dun sulphur, emergers, morgan’s midge, crippled sulphur, puff daddies, BWO,¬†zebra midge (black, purple, red, olive, tan,) split case, pheasant tail, soft hackle pheasant tail, squirmy worms, etc. Contact me or a local fly shop if you have questions about seasonal flies or what they’re currently eating!

Tip: For dry fly fishing, use a sulphur on top and tie on a puff daddy behind it with about 8 inches of 6-7x (depending on how finicky they are.) They crush the puff daddy on the swing.

You can find this fishing spot at Holston View Dam Road off Highway 421 in Bristol, Tennessee. Appalachian treks has a great review of the Weir dam park area and more accurate directions here.