One of my favorite creeks to go to while the Watauga and South Holston rivers are generating is Stoney Creek, a feeder stream for the Watauga River. If you follow this creek down to the river, you can sometimes find big rainbows and browns that swim up into it to feed.
When getting here, there is a small volunteer fire station that I usually park at on the corner of Blue Springs Rd and Willow Springs Rd in Elizabethton. After parking, there is a very short walk right to the river. Across the street from the fire station is a residential cabin-type house, and right beside of that is a great section to fish. There are generally dozens of fish in that particular pool, but you can walk up and down the stream for a long time and catch fish.
This is the volunteer fire station with the creek to the left. If you go downstream, there is a nice pool, but you can go all up and down this stretch.
During the summer I had the absolute time of my life slingin’ hoppers and beetles here. There is a large amount of tree coverage over the river, so it is perfect for beetles. Using one is very different from using a regular fly though. Instead of letting it down gently, it is better to smack it on top of the water to imitate it falling out of a tree, and let it dead drift. I also use sulphurs, which always seems to do the trick as well! During the winter, blue winged olives, zebra midges, copper johns or anything of the like would certainly work.
To find this stretch, use 108 W Riverside Dr, Elizabethon, TN in a GPS.
Riverside Dr. is one of my favorite places to wade on the Watauga because of how easy it is to access and the amount of water you can cover. If you’re a beginner or taking a beginner with you I would recommend coming here since it’s so wide open and typically pretty easy to catch small to medium sized trout.
About half way on this street, I usually get in right above a small rapid and work my way up the river and cast my lines close to the opposite side of the bank. There aren’t many hard eddy lines to mend around, the water is slower, and it’s easy to walk around here.
Watauga trout can be finicky – I’ve had hard times figuring out what they’re eating. As far as nymphing goes I always bring my zebra midges, pheasant tails, and a variety of soft hackles. For dry fly fishing I bring sulphurs, puff daddies, BWO’s (these are more for the winter), emergers, Morgan’s Midge*, and caddis.
*When I see trout rising for flies and I can’t get them to hit a sulphur, BWO, or caddis, my fall back is always the Morgan’s Midge. Drop it behind your main fly and trout will hit it on the swing.
To find this stretch, use 108 W Riverside Dr, Elizabethon, TN, in a GPS.
This section of the Watauga River is located at 100 Wagner Rd, Watauga, TN, 37694.
You should see train tracks beside of the road, and once you turn onto the street you will see a parking lot to the right with the boat ramp and the river in front of you. The trail to get down river to the bridge and easy wading area is to the right of the boat ramp and is easy to follow.
When you get into the water past the bridge, there is a nice ledge in the middle that is shallow and can be walked up and down easily. There is a deep pool that follows along the right bank and a rock slab all the way down the side of the river. Nymph along this wall or use your dries if there is anything rising.
My go-to Watauga nymph rig for deeper water is a squirmy worm, another nymph (copper John, zebra midge, rainbow warrior,) and a soft hackle on the bottom (typically soft hackle pheasant tail or red butts depending on the season.) Weight your line accordingly.
This area houses mostly small to medium sized rainbow trout, but I’ve seen a few monsters lurking beneath the bridge.