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North Holston River - High Water

The mountains upstream of us received 3.5 inches of rain in the past 48 hours. This raised the North Holston River behind our house from 300 cubic feet per second to 7,500 cfs. There’s 7.48 gallons of water in a cubic foot. At this current streamflow there are 56,100 gallons of water per second rushing through a single cross section of this river. That means if you were able to collect all the water passing by for one minute, you would have gathered 3,336,000 gallons of water. Or to put this in a different way, if you took 1 acre of land and filled it evenly with 1 foot of water, that's 325,000 gallons. So the amount of water you collected from this river would cover 10.3 acres of land with one foot of water each minute, or one acre of land 10.3 feet deep in a minute.


Needless to say, fishing will be tricky for a few days. If you've really got the itch to chase bronzebacks, you could hit the river and focus on the edges where water is flowing over the shore, as this slower and shallower water will be where the fish are hiding out to seek refuge from the raging torrents. They generally don't feed much at the start of high water, as they're too busy being concerned about survival, but after they've spent all their energy fighting the current to find safe abode, they will need to replenish. If you're fishing these softer edges, take a look around before deciding your fly - there's likely a bunch of information floating by. You'll probably see all kinds of beetles, spiders and worms on the water - these may work as impressions, but it's likely the water is too turbid so the fish don't have enough visibility to feed on the surface. Your better bet is to tie on small leech/minnow patterns, or larger san juan worms. Another good option is to slow-strip a dragonfly or hellgrammite nymph. There's a good chance a really small frog impression, fished subsurface, could entice a bit, as the frogs have been trilling in the evenings for the past week. Remember that this slack water over the shore will be ripe with snag potential. Most important, be safe - even the edge of water during a flood can carry larger branches underwater. Best practice is to have a spotter.


Your best bet for finding fish during the next few days will be high elevation streams that will still be high, but fishable, or hit up one of the mountain lakes.


Once high water comes down, North Holston will be in prime early-spring fishing conditions!




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Guiding Southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee.

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