The South Holston River
The South Holston River is a 14 mile stretch of tailwater extending from the South Holston Dam to Boone Reservoir. It was created in the 1950's when the Tennessee Valley Authority completed the South Holston Dam. The river is solely regulated by the single turbine generator located at the dam by the TVA. Our water is bottom fed from South Holston Reservoir keeping our waters comfortable cold for our trout year-round. Another important part of our fishery is the weir labyrinth which increases the oxygen level in the South Holston River and maintains a minimum flow of 90cfs when the TVA is not running water through the generator. While the generator is on the river maintains an average flow of 2400cfs.
The two species of fish we target on the South Holston River are rainbow trout and brown trout. We host one of the largest populations of trout in the country, reaching 7,000-10,000 fish per mile in the upper stretches of the river. Our wild brown trout fishery has been very well maintained for the last decade with the last stocked brown trout being put into the river in 2003. They still stock rainbow trout at about 100,000 per year with 50% being fingerlings. Although they stock rainbow trout to maintain the put and take part of our fishery we have still seen a strong natural reproduction of rainbow trout. You have the opportunity to catch a trout in excess of 20 inches on our river any day of the year with an average size fish of about 12 inches.
If you are going to wade the South Holston River always be aware of the generation schedule. The river is extremely dangerous to be in at high water and will rise 4 vertical feet in a matter of 15 minutes. You can find the TVA schedule which is updated daily at 5pm through this link: http://www.tva.gov/lakes/shh_r.htm
The Watauga River
The Watauga tailwater has many similarities and differences from the South Holston. The Watauga is just over 30 miles in length and a little smaller in width than the South Holston River. It hosts Sulphurs and Blue Wing Olive hatches like the South Holston but also has a more diverse range of bugs. You can find a caddis hatch on the Watauga during the early spring months of March and April, depending on water conditions. This is the Watauga rivers most prolific hatch and shouldn't be missed. There is a 2.5 mile quality section on the Watauga that is aimed to grow larger fish. They do stock the Watauga regularly but it still has a natural reproduction of trout. Compared to the South Holston in numbers the Watauga hosts just over 3,000 fish per mile. While this may seem like a smaller population of fish, it has a smaller width concentrating the fish to certain areas. The Watauga is a very scenic and enjoyable float with a daily chance of a trophy. This tailwater fishes great at low water which always gives us an option to float. Watch the generation schedule as it is also a dangerous river to wade while they are generating. They are always running water in the afternoons from Memorial to Labor Day weekend for the rafting companies that use the upper stretches of the river.
You may find river information and generation schedules for the Watauga by clicking the following link: https://www.tva.gov/Environment/Lake-Levels/Wilbur
South Holston River Lodge | 1509 Bullock Hollow Road | Bristol, TN 37620