Happy New Year 2019…. Its Winter and Wet Continues….
Jan 2, 2019….. 2018 circled the drain and is under us and what a wet one it was. Historically, it was the wettest year on record for the Appalachian region. Not even close to any other year….1973 was a really wet one, but 2018 is the wettest year since climate records were first kept over 100 years ago. So how wet was it?
According to the TVA, the Tennessee Valley was the wettest ever with a basin average of 67.1 inches of rain. Previous record was 65.1 inches in 1973. Mt Mitchell, NC, the highest point east of the Rocky Mtns in the West, got 118.80 inches. Nothing even close enough to compare that number to. Its been wet, real wet. On our trips, we got at least some rain on roughly 70% of them. I cancelled almost 60 dates due to flooding, rain, some weather related stuff, missing large chunks of time. We , for the first time I can remember, missed an entire season of smallmouth fishing because of bad conditions. And yet, in many ways where we fished we had the best fishing I have ever experienced.
Sulphur hatches that were beyond mind blowing. Best dry fly fishing on the tailwaters I can ever remember. Epic streamer fishing that produced more 20 inch plus browns than you could count. Simply, if you could put up with the inconvenience of less than perfect weather, grabbed the raingear and fishing gear and went anyway, you were almost always rewarded with an incredible day. I lost count of the 75 to 100 fish days on the tailwaters. With the sluice flows on both rivers, we had the best dry fly fishing I have ever experienced, both personally and on guided trips with clients. It was the best. Ever.
So what is 2019 going to be like? Well, short term, its more of the same. Started wet, and we have more rain in the forecast for Friday. Potentially some 1/2 to 3/4 inch stuff. What does that mean? More great fishing where you can get on the water. Simply stated, if you want to fish you are going to have to forget , in the short term, about those perfect sunny , warm , blissful days and take the hand you are dealt. Grab the raingear and go make some bank. You might be surprised how good the fishing is….. Want to enjoy good fishing and few other anglers? As Nike would exclaim….Just do it.
On New Years day I guided Paul Gruver, Raleigh, NC, and Anthony Hipps, Lexington, NC, on a float trip on the South Holston River. I know its hard to believe but there was a big rain before the guys came up, and a big rain overnight but it didn’t stop us from fishing. Even with higher flows on both South Holston and Watauga we are fishing. I assured the guys we would still do just fine. High water on tailwaters means ‘normal’, business as usual kind of stuff. I told them, no worries, we’ll still catch fish.
And we did just that. Except for a brief spell of tossing a streamer, we nymph fished different double rigs and double rig combos and did really well. Caught a good mix of rainbows and browns, up to 15/16″ or so. I did not keep count but Paul and Anthony put probably between 40 and 50 in the boat, a good day anyday. Normal “high releases” are usually in the 2200 to 2400 range during normal generation or high flow sluicing.
Today’s flow was 3020cfs, and probably more like 3300-3500 given some of the extra inflow from feeder tribs. So, does high water eliminate the fishing? I’d say between 40 and 50 fish didn’t say that it did, let alone the two dozen or more that were briefly hooked that came off who didn’t get to speak on the matter because the fight ended early. Add those in and an already great day becomes an epic day.
So, again, does high water eliminate the fishing? Bottomline is if you desire to get out of the doldrums, go catch some fish in this historically wet period instead of waiting for what is “ideal conditions” (which isn’t how the fish define ideal) …. its a call, text, or email away. You know, just like Domino’s Pizza…where “one call does it all”. But we don’t supply Pepperoni. Wait, if you want to go fishing and Pepperoni would seal the deal then I’d be more than happy to bring it.
We have a ton of trips coming up. In keeping with the first of the month every month we make available a printable fly chart and fly recommendations for area fishing. Click here or click the image below and it will take you to a link where you can access and print a January Fly Hatch Chart.
Hope your 2018 wrapped up nicely and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.
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