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Archive for May, 2017

Continued Wet….

Sat. May 27, 2017 ….That’s been the story for the past month.  And it continues, enough so that by the end of the month virtually all areas will have recorded the highest ever rainfall totals for the month of May. I can attest to that, as we have fished in it all month and have done surprisingly well for the most part despite it.  The sulphur hatch is in full swing on both tailwaters, and we’ve had some great days.  And it will go on until November.

 So if all this rain has got you down, or if the hot summer gets you down…..no worries.  I can put you into some fish regardless of either.  I’d say a majority of folks see May as ‘primetime’, as if June, July, August were non issues in terms of fishing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For floating or wading the morning and floating the afternoon, there’s no better time than June through August.  And don’t forget smallmouth.  The heat and normal summer issues are non-issues…..smallmouth fishing goes on without skipping a beat.

Our past week was a challenging one in some respects.   The past week I guided a group Trip, Joe Craig Group- – Joe Craig, Allen Peterson, Locke Clifford, Rusty Walker, Ron Davis, Tom Ross, and Bill Leinster, High Point, NC, TN /NC/VA waters, we spent the week doing some floating on the TN tailwaters and had rain everyday, heavy rains/flooding, storms, high winds, everyday, and we still put fish in the boat and the net (wading) despite the horrid conditions.

  We got a lot of surface activity even in the conditions, and I would argue that it often makes fish easy to catch.  That is certainly what we found.  Every day we floated the upper river we did well, landing some quality browns on sulphurs…both fishing them dry and swinging soft hackles.  So, if you are wondering if the rain squelches fishing the answer is a definitive ‘no.’

It rained almost 10 inches this week.  Many places were high and blown out all week and still, as of this morning 5/26/2017, still are.  We fished some small water as well on private land that yielded brookies, golden trout, rainbows, and browns up to 23″.

It was a great trip despite the weather, and a blast with a group of excellent and enjoyable guys, all of whom I gladly consider not just clients but friends.  Looks like more wet on the way, with chances of storms going up Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  Also, potentially could be looking at several inches more of rain.  My wife and I are off taking a rare in season break and mini vacation through May 30 and hopefully we’ll get to float and fish at least once if the storms don’t get us.

Have a great one…


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Wed . May 24, 2017 …That is the one word that perfectly sums up the past three days. We have had almost non stop rain and on and off storms. Floated two trips the past two days, one with clients Locke Clifford and Allen Peterson and the other with Allen Peterson and Bill Leinster. The first trip we caught a lot of fish but none over 13"….landed probably 15 or so and broke a bunch off. The second trip we threw streamers and nymphs and got only 3, but all were nice fish, one nice rainbow and two nice browns.

Today is day three of a five day trip w a group of guys. We have some potentially severe weather coming this afternoon we are going to try to make the best of it.

Have a great one, will post more later…


Jeff Wilkins Fly Fishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summer field, NC 27358

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Bluff City, TN

Looks Like More Wet Weather On the Way…

Mon. May 22, 2017…. Just preparing for our next group of anglers I will be hosting for the next 5 days. This group is from the Piedmont , NC including Greensboro and High Point and one from Asheville, NC. Joining me will be Joe Craig, Ron Davis, Allen Peterson, Rusty Walker, Locke Clifford, and Bill Leinster…all of whom I have guided for years and who I look forward to getting together with.

The guys and I have been doing this trip for over a decade. Caught a lot of great fish over the years, some of the largest I’ve had clients catch from the TN tailwaters. Some of the dry fly fish I dare say are probably some of the finest to be landed…. when you consider they are fish in the 24 to 28" range….wild browns no less. And on 6X and a tiny dry….that is a feat even few Western places can beat.

Looks like we have some major wet weather coming. We are in one of those patterns that come around once or twice in a decade. Really wet, one dry day, then really wet for several more. It’s good for the fish though.

While our main focus is the tailwaters Soho and Watauga we usually hit a few smaller waters….some NC and a private spring Creek in VA. With the anticipated rains of an inch to three or four inches we could have an interesting week. We can definitely float but our other options might be limited. Just wait and see.

But we will have a great time. That I am sure of.

Have a great one…


Jeff Wilkins Fly Fishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summer field, NC 27358

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Great Two Days of Floating…

Sun. May 21, 2017 …..Feels like summer around here, and that means warm and sticky, humid, sunny weather, and afternoon thunderstorms….. and the sulphur hatch.  That’s what its been like the past few days.  Been in East TN the past three days guiding and doing some group floats.  The last two days we hosted Dr George Hashisaki and his brother Peter, and two sons Nathaniel and Jonathan.  Had some good fishing, and the guys were great to be with.

We did two days on the  TN South Holston , a float  w/2 boats, met up with George, his brother Peter , and his two sons Nathaniel and Jonathan, day one was up and down weather, very stormy, several heavy downpours, one really bad storm but we still caught fish, caught them early nymph fishing and chucking streamers and then got a late day sulphur hatch and put a bunch of nice fish in the boat.

Probably 45 fish  or so the first day.  The best action was late in the day, probably due to the clouds and rain, and limited sun.  A pretty strong end to the day with a few nice flurries of rising fish, and it was fun to watch the guys nail the fish on dries.

Day two we had nice weather, sunny, warm, mid 80sF, and bugs came off early and we did very well, nailing some to start on dries and swinging wets n soft hackles, and a few nymphing also.  With the full sun the bugs came and by 130/2pm we were getting some rising fish and had pretty good action on and off for the next several hours, netting a bunch of fish on dries.

Got a few toward the end of the float with a swinging rig, and spent the last mile of so of floating both days slinging streamers and did pretty well with that also netting several nice 14 to 16″ browns…. nice way to end the day and two great days with these guys.  We probably 50 fish plus fish day today.

Getting a much needed day of rest today, then have a group of guys coming for May 22 through May 26 from High Point, NC.  With the coming weather changes we may be fishing TN, VA, and NC over the course of the week.  Looks like a cooler week and a good bit of rain coming.

Had a trip cancellation for May 31 and that is now open and an excellent time to get in on the sulphur hatch on the tailwaters as well as the multitude of smaller waters we have.  A quick update on smallmouth fishing….as I’ve been asked a lot about, its about time as far as our spring and summer floating season.  We’ve missed several dates due to high water conditions, but that will settle down soon.  One thing is for sure….its going to good as the fish have gotten a big rest from any fishing pressure.

Have a great week…enjoy your Sunday


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Conditions Improving…

Tues. May 16, 2017….Conditions have been steadily improving all across the mountains, many places fishable again and a lot of places still high.  Depends largely drainage by drainage as to how things are.   East TN, SW Virginia, and NW NC have been really wet.

On Monday 5/15 I did a guided Trip  with Kevin O’ Connor , Charlottesville , VA, on Dunlap Creek private water, water was still way up (running around 590cfs) and off color, but we decided to give it a go anyway and it paid off.  Kevin met me there around 815am and we suited up and made it down to the river, we fished drop shot rigs with two or three flies and did well scoring a bunch of rainbows, some up to 22″.

We fished one stretch where Kevin landed a rainbow double, two 20”s on the same rig….never have seen that before.  Moments later he was into a brown that turned out to be  30 1/2″ around 9lbs.  After a long fight the fish came to net.  Got our usual round of hero shot pics, then turned the beast loose back into its environs.  A huge fish though, one of the largest browns I’ve had a customer land at Dunlap.

Caught several others too before we quit around 530pm.  We unsuited and were done for the day.  Great day though, we made the best of it despite less than ideal conditions and did well despite it.  For someone like me, and since we have had so many weather issues this year, you’ve got to take any reasonable day you get when it gets like this.  Its May….fish are eating.

Doing a float with Kevin today on either the South Holston or Watauga.  Looks to be a beautiful day, sunny, and no rain.  We’ll be wishing for rain soon enough though.

Have a great one…


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Wet and Soggy….

Sun. May 14, 2017 ….Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there.  I had an unexpected Saturday off, plus a Friday off and was supposed to do a guided Trip , Tony Pugh, Asheboro, NC, NC Mtns,  I cancelled due to storms, high water, muddy conditions….a doozy. Widespread heavy rains and pretty much everything stirred up…..rode around for a look and took a lot of photos, did find a short stretch of a tiny NC creek that was somewhat clear and high, fished a couple hours late afternoon and caught 20 or so before more storms forced my hand to quit….and soon this was muddy too. Incredible, even the Soho was running red.

Unusual you ever see the Soho this full with zero generation but it was as high as it is when they are generating only they weren’t.  The high, dirty flows were strictly from runoff!  There were a lot of other waters like this too, the Doe, the Watauga, Doe Creek, Elk River, Cane River, Cane Creek, you name it.  A lot were running red.  Here are some pics of them….

Have a busy week coming up guiding Kevin O’ Conner from Alexandria, VA, and we’ll be doing one day on the private water at Dunlap Creek, then following that up with a float on the South Holston.  I have a wade trip on Wednesday with Dr Art Kriner in the NC Mtns, then end the week with two days of floating with Dr. George Hashisaki, Charlottesville, VA on the TN tailwaters.  Just like May usually is, here, moves quickly, and with the busyness is gone in a flash.  Should have lots of great reports though.

Have a great Mother’s Day and a great week coming up…

Tight Lines…


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Great Three Days in East TN…

Fri. May 12, 2017 …Catching a little break today, had a trip scheduled with Tony Pugh today but had to cancel it due to heavy thunderstorms and continued high flows where we were headed.  Water was already high there and we got some heavy thunderstorms last night again….some powerhouse storms.  More rain on the way.  Just finished up a three day trip with a regular client Ted Linczak and we did very well, and ended the trip with some trophy browns….

On the afternoon of 5/9, Tuesday, Ted and I met up on his way from Summerville, SC and we did an afternoon float trip to try to get in on the sulphur hatch on high water. We fished through the upper river and caught several fish on drop shot nymph rigs and then got into some rising fish further down river and caught a ton of fish on dries, all of them rising browns.

We fished til about 730pm when the fish quit rising then made the run downstream to take out through the several rapids before it got dark. Caught a few ripping a streamer to takeout, plus a ton of follows. Great evening and great start to a three day trip with Ted.

We wade fished the morning and nymph fished and caught fish on scuds, small PTs, and midges…we waded the lower South Holston and we put about 12 to 15 fish in the nest, 3 of which were rocket rainbows, and one of which was one of the nicest rainbows I’ve had a customer catch here in some time. Just don’t see that many larger rainbows on the Soho, at least of the 16 to 20″ and up variety.

The water came up on us about noon so we headed back to the truck and then hitched the boat up and headed out for an afternoon float. We caught several fish nymph fishing, then worked our way down river in anticipation of finding some fish rising to sulphurs. Got on several pods of fish and caught a bunch on dries again.

For two hours in the first spot it was really good and caught several nice browns. The next spot, a bank side run that few folks fish at high water we caught several more, including some of the most stunning dry fly takes I’ve seen in a while…enough so they should have been on a highlight film. They were very cool.

We fished on the upper river til about 6pm or so then headed downriver and caught fish along the way nymph fishing. Below the upper rapids we switched off to a streamer and caught several fish doing that, and had several follows too, a couple of which were huge fish.

On our last day, the TVA had gone to all day generation. We had decided to do two floats, basically to float most if not the entire 14 miles or so. Our plan was to do one float from the middle to lower end of the Soho early in the day and rip streamers. Fully commit and fish no other way, which is what you have to do to be successful.

Ted fished it hard, 110% from the first cast and strip to the last one near our take out. Its hard work and catches big fish, some of the fish that eat almost no other way. It takes full commitment to catch them. Only a quarter mile into the float Ted was into a big brown, we were in a very fast stretch of water with ledges and we were fighting the fish and I put the anchor down. Ted continued to fight the fish and got the fish to boatside and it came off. We were both stunned….tough to lose one like that. We decided to move on and went to pull the anchor and it would not come up. Spent 20 minutes or so trying to get it free but could not so ended up getting out the knife and cutting us loose…a quick way to say goodbye to $200 in a flash.

We then floated and continued fishing and Ted hooked another nice fish right off. Landed that one, got a photo and two casts later he was into another one. It was basically like that the whole next mile, caught a bunch of fish and more follows than I can count. Quality fish in the 16 to 22″ range. We’d float a distance, then I’d pull over to the edge in an eddy anytime we needed to re rig or do anything.

We floated on to the next stretch which yielded many strikes and then it was on…Ted nailed a very large fish, a two footer plus and we got the fish to the net and pulled over and took a few pics. We fished our way to the first take out, tied up, and decided to continue on downriver to Bluff City since going up river and fishing the hatch wasn’t going to be possible with needed several feet of rope and a new anchor.

Even getting one closeby would have cost us a couple hours in any fashion making it useless to go upstream and try to fish the hatch. Since we were doing well on streamers, we decided to continue on the next four miles to Bluff City. That would prove to be a great move, we caught a bunch of fish all the way down to takeout. Several more nice/large fish, including a couple of real studs and a whole lot of follows.

We fished to take out, through the lake head rapids and were done. One of the best days on big fish in a while, and pretty interesting we did it with no anchor. It was great, Ted fished the streamer rig all day with no lapse whatsoever in effort, concentration, etc., which is why we did well.

We caught the fish on one of my 5 inch articulated streamer patterns utilizing Flymenfishing Company components, marabou, rabbit strips, deer hair, and Deer Creek UV resin…its a deadly fly.  The line setup is key too, you have to get everything down.  You take a large river with some deep gorgy/ledgy holes and put 2.5 to 3′ of extra water running through and you have to get down.

I use the backend of an old floating fly line.  Cut off the front 3o to 35 feet, the ‘fat end’ that wears out and doesn’t want to cast or float anymore.  I then get a 330gr Air flo head, one of the 20plus footers, and cut it in half.  It has loops on it, so you get two tips.  I then put a loop on the end of the old fly line, and connect it loop to loop to the head.  Then I nail knot a 20lb piece of Maxima Chameleon green, about 8 inches and put a loop in it.  Then the tippet is 3 feet of 10# or 12# fluorocarbon.  No more.  No less.  It pulls good, strips right, gets down.  There’s the free streamer rig tip of the day….

Will be out today scouting some spots for upcoming trips, and getting a new anchor line set up.  Try overnighting a 30lb piece of lead…..some of the shipping estimates I got yesterday when I ordered one from the river was $331….!  Fortunately during our streamside lunch break with Ted’s help I was able to locate one in Indiana and reduced it to $47… What a deal! Right? Anyway, you do what you gotta do.

Have a great one, will likely give a report on stream conditions later today on this page, our Real Time fishing reports.

Tight Lines…


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Caught a May Break……

Tues. May 9, 2017 …A May break….not a rest….a break in the weather.  We got a break, and got great weather, and yesterday had a great trip.  Just off several nasty rainy days….and looks like there’s more to come.  One respite there won’t be the cold we had thankfully.  But like always we’ll take it in stride.

On Monday May 9 I guided a float trip with Stanley Grand, Scranton, PA,  and David Stone, New Cumberland, PA, we did a low water float on the South Holston taking advantage of overnight generation and a midday pulse and it worked out great.  We caught a lot of fish on dry /dropper rigs early mainly on midges.  There were risers here and there but nothing significant.

Stanley nailed the first first minutes into our trip, a nice 17″ rainbow, David would follow with several browns in the 13 to 16″ range.  It was great, we had near perfect weather except for some breezy conditions, but the fishing at times made up for it.  We caught a bunch at the start, behind two other boats which was satisfying.

We then moved downstream and David nailed a nice large rainbow on a deep double rig, it was during the pulse, upon which we headed downstream and into one of my fave pools.  The guys put several good fish in the boat, one large rainbow and several quality browns, all on nymph rigs.  We continued to move downriver and caught fish along the way, including one large outcrop hole that usually produces and produces several quality fish, rainbows and browns.  David nailed a nice rainbow and Stanley a couple of nice browns.

 We continued to move downriver and had good fishing straight through, catching several more and breaking off a couple good ones on nymph rigs.  We got down to an area that I expected to get some surface action and that’s what we got.

Caught several rising fish on dries and David got one really nice brown on a dry, it was decent.  Not great, but decent and certainly improving after the bad weather of the past week.  In expectation of the coming end of the day full generation release we headed downstream and nymph fished several more runs and landed a few rainbows to finish the day.  About a half mile from takeout the full generation reached us and we rode that to our takeout.  Great day though, excellent day, two great folks.

Have three days coming up with client Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, and we’ll be on the tailwaters.  We’ll do some floating and wading both I’m fairly sure.  But the fishing is good right now, as it usually is and should be….I mean its May right?  In any case, the sulphur hatch is in full swing and will continue now on and off, here and there, for months til perhaps November on the tailwaters.  Will be on it a lot…

I have a Friday trip scheduled and we’ll see if the rain affects that in any major way.  Looks like Thursday through Sat early could have some more heavy rain.  Will have lots of reports….

Have a great one…


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Is it May or March?……

Sun. May 7, 2017 ….Just catching our breath from a busy week, a busy fishing week despite some incredibly difficult weather all week.  We floated most of the week due to the other waters being blown out and muddy….many of them all week long.  One round of heavy rain, a day or so clear, then another round.  Things have been, put simply, very wet.  Eventually we’ll be glad we got all this rain, as it will help our summer flows immensely.

 On Friday I guided a float trip with Gregg & Zach Williamson, Oak Ridge, NC, a TN South Holston float, met Gregg and Zach late morning and we put in around 1030 am, as the fishing on the Soho has been better midday on. We started with nymphing rigs and scored several nice rainbows to start using the usual drop shot nymph rigs, Gregg landed several nice ones and Zach followed with a few of his own.

By about 100pm we saw a fish or two rise, had one come up on a dry but the fish just rolled on it. We moved downstream and took a lunch break at my usual spot, preparing ourselves for what I hoped was some good dry fly fishing to come. That is exactly what we got. Caught a few swinging wets and emergers, then the rain came , and it rained on and off, and the fish started working pretty good on the surface.

We would spend the next several hours catching nice browns on dries, I didn’t keep count but it was a lot of nice fish for sure. After the hatch started to wane a bit, I moved around a little going from fish to fish as we saw more rise, and pod to pod. It was fun, I’d anchor up, we dust the flies, and the guys would nail a rising fish. We repeated this over several spots….it was simply great, and lots of fun.

We had planned on getting to our takeout by 630pm ish or so, so we fished there and floated through and threw meat the rest of the way. Zach caught a bunch doing that, some good fish too. It was pretty great. We arrived at takeout about 7pm and put an end to a great day. Weather was iffy today, we were really lucky blessed. Great day for sure.

On Saturday I did another float trip with Ron Davis, Winston-Salem, NC, NC Mtns, Ron and his client Michael Mill from Alabama joined me  for a day on the South Holston.  We knew when we got up it was going to be one of those challenging weather days. Heavy rains on Thursday night and Friday all across the region made for some very unsettled conditions.

We had rounds one and two then, and round three to come on Saturday. We had decent conditions when we first got on the water and by mid afternoon conditions deteriorated rapidly….and quickly became one of the nastiest afternoons I’ve spent on the river in a while. We put in around 11am and started catching fish right off, scoring several rainbows on deep drop shot nymph rigs, and worked our way downriver hoping to get in some sulphurs down river as we have several days the past week.

The weather went downhill quickly……what we eventually got, after taking a lunch break, was temps in low 40Fs, winds 20/30 gusting to 40mph, and at times a driving rain. We got two browns in the area where we’ve gotten lots of rising fish the past week, way below what it has been. A good many bugs but the fish didn’t come up on them as well in the bad conditions.

We floated to the area above the gorge on the upper part of the river then threw some meat the rest of the way to takeout, ending up at the ramp around 815pm. Probably some of the most challenging weather I’ve fished in and the guys still, fortunately, put probably 15 to 20 fish in the boat. Its May but it felt like late February today. Snow flurries and a dusting happened on the mountaintops nearby.

Had a chance to get a much needed rest today, some quality time at home and with my wife and doggies….. Have another busy week coming up, May is here and one of our busiest months.  May is so much so it often books a year in advance.  June and July are very similar.  Much of our best fishing happens during these months.   Coming up I have a trip guiding Stanley Grand, Scranton, PA on Monday 5/8, Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, Tues, Wed, and Thurs 5/9 through 5-11, and Tony Pugh, Asheboro, NC, on Friday 5/12.  Then comes Mother’s Day……so a busy week ahead.   Looks like cool and wet will continue.  But as Simms ads proclaim….”#forgettheforecast and #mocktheweatherman”….for that is why we buy all that high dollar gear.  Not to sit in the car or at home…..and rain delays, well, they are for baseball.

Have a great one….tight lines!


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May Comes in with a Bang….

Thurs. May 4, 2017 …. May certainly has come in in a strong way, lots of unsettled weather, some fishing, and lots of severe weather.  Another round of rain early in the week right on the heels of the 6 to 8 inches of rain before it meant lots of high, brown water everywhere.  There have been many days lately where the only fishing on our trout and smallmouth streams/rivers has been on the South Holston.

On the TN Watauga, where normally you’d find the same opportunity, at least on its upper end, the TVA has been dumping a large amount of water.  This is because Watauga Lake, the lake formed by the Elk and Watauga Rivers coming out of North Carolina, has pretty much filled Watauga Lake beyond full pool level and TVA is dumping water to get back to normal level.  The result has been running 3 units (3000 cfs) which makes for a lot of water and tough fishing.  At that level even a lot of places in the upper river you’d have trouble even anchoring, not to mention it makes fishing real tough.

I’ve had trips early in the week scheduled that we did not take due to high dirty water.  Missed two back to back, but yesterday, Wednesday May 3 I had the opportunity to get out with a longtime client Dr Pat Burney from Greensboro, NC.  It was a great weather day, and fishing was much better.  We floated the South Holston, and had a great day.

Pat and I put in late morning and did the upper river float and caught some fish nymphing early on drop shot rigs and double rigs using a variety of Squirmies and small nymphs, mainly rainbows, as we worked our way downriver we switched over to wet fly rigs and started swinging double fly rigs with sulphur emergers and caught a good many fish doing that, all browns.

Mid to late afternoon we got into a sulphur hatch and started getting some risers…..we caught a few more swinging then switched to dry flies and had several hours of excellent dry fly fishing , nailing a bunch of browns on dries. We hit a few more pods of fish, then switched back to nymph rigs and passed through the gorge.

Switched off to a heavy streamer rig and nailed a nice brown on one of my white streamer patterns. We stopped off one more spot on our way to the takeout where there were some rising fish, then one other spot where we could swing some wet flies…and broke off two nice fish swinging flies. With that , we were pretty much done so we floated through the last few rapids and got to our takeout just before dark. Great day, awesome weather day.

Had a trip scheduled for Thurs 5/4, today, and we postponed due to water still being high where we were headed.  I have a float trip tomorrow 5/5 with Zach and Gregg Williamson, and Saturday float trip 5/6 with Ron Davis and a client of his.  Both trips we’ll be floating the South Holston.  Forecast is for front today arriving with rain, some of it heavy rains, for tonight into early Friday morning.  Some could contain thunderstorms.  Forecast is for 1.5 to 2.5 inches roughly, which could mean several days again of high, dirty water.  In a lot of places the rain will mix with snow, believe it or not.  Snow.  Forecast is for low temps in the 30s and highs in the upper 40s.  Next week starts a busy week full of trips leading up to Mother’s Day weekend.

Have a great one…..get out and enjoy some of this weather….big change is coming!


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