President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act in 1933, creating the TVA. TVA was designed to modernize the region, using experts and electricity to combat human and economic problems. TVA developed fertilizers, taught farmers ways to improve crop yields and helped replant forests, control forest fires, and improve habitat for fish and wildlife. The most dramatic change in Valley life came from TVA-generated electricity. Electric lights and modern home appliances made life easier and farms more productive. Electricity also drew industries into the region, providing desperately needed jobs.
Basically, we ended up with a world class fishery on accident! The South Holston Dam discharges cold clear water from the depths over 200 feet. This water comes from the South Holston Reservoir, this 7,550 acre lake resides mostly in Tennessee although 1,660 acres of the lake reside in Virginia. A special South Holston Lake permit is required to fish the waters.
In 1991, TVA built a weir dam, an aerating labyrinth weir, approximately 1.5 miles below the main dam, straddling the midsection of Osceola Island. The weir helps to deal with the fact that the water coming out of the bottom of the dam is cold, dense, and oxygen depleted. The water also tends to have unpredictable recirculation currents. The weir counteracts these problems with the water out of the bottom of the dam. The weir oxygenates the water, which helps aquatic insects, vegetation, and fish—particularly trout.
South Holston aquatic insect life is off the charts! The SoHo has the BIG 4, It produces Midges like a factory. Our resident Mayflies, the Sulphur and Blue Winged Olive life provide large western river style hatches you can almost set your watch to. Early season Caddis and some Stoneflies mixed in as well. Scuds and Sowbugs are another forage in abundance that are on the menu. The South Holston Tailwater is a smorgasbord of aquatic life.
All of these efforts by TVA and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) has shaped the South Holston Tailwater as the world class fishery as we know it today. Our cold, oxygen rich water provides the perfect eco-system for our aquatic insect life and rainbow and brown trout to flourish.
WARNING! Our rivers are dam released, water release schedules can change without notice due to unanticipated weather changes or power system requirements. Large amounts of water could be discharged at any time. Use caution! Obey all posted safety regulations and precautions! https://www.tva.gov/Environment/Lake-Levels