Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Hiwassee River Tennessee
The river is wadeable when the water is low and the turbines are not running. It can be
waded in some areas when one turbine is running, but it must be done carefully. A
driftboat is the best way to fish it when the turbines are running. You will see a lot of
other types of watercraft on the Hiwassee, including everything from canoes to kayaks.
The river changes character from the dam to the Highway 411 Bridge. Below the dam,
with water running, you can find several areas where the water will be rough and look
more like a white water rafting stream than a trout stream. There are layers of rocks
called shoals that provide a varied bottom structure. There are long runs, riffles of all
lengths and short pool-like areas. Especially in the upper section of the river, the
appearance of the river varies greatly with the amount of water being discharged, or
of course, not being discharged.
The upper area above Reliance, which is approximately six miles long, is the most
fished area of the river. Most of it can be fished from a road that parallels the river,
except in the Trophy Section, which is well off the road. There is a trail that follows the
river through the Trophy Section and you have to walk a short ways to fish it.
The section of the river from Reliance to the Highway 411 Bridge is quite different from
the upper section. The bottom is much more level and the stream can be waded
easier. This section is usually not crowded and there are several areas you can
access the stream.
The fishing techniques vary depending on whether you are fishing for newly stocked
trout or larger holdover fish. Basically, for the first few months, the newly stocked trout
can be caught on just about any fly, although nymphs work far better than dry flies
most of the time. The best way is to fish for the holdover trout is to try to match the
food that is most available at the time, because you will still catch just as many
recently stocked trout as you would otherwise. There's are a large number of mayflies,
caddisflies, stoneflies and other aquatic insects in this river. There's also plenty of
baitfish, sculpin and crustaceans for the trout to eat. If you are fishing prior to a
certain insect hatch, it is usually best to fish imitations of their nymphs or larvae.
Midges are always present. Trout can be caught year-round on imitations of their
larvae and pupae. Streamers also work great at times.
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