Etowah River: We’re at the tail end of striper season, but spotted bass fishing is only going to get better from now till October! If you do plan on striper fishing, the first and last two or three hours of the day are key periods. Try throwing an intermediate clear tip line with a long 7/8 foot leader consisting of 40/30/20lb fluorocarbon with white or white/chartreuse bucktail flies, EP baitfish in tan/white, olive/white, or gray/white, and Major Mullet or Major Sardine patterns. You have to hunt these fish: persistence and stamina are the name of the game.
Keep a 7 weight rigged with a floating warmwater line like Scientific Angler’s Bass Bug in the boat – size 4 Boogle Bugs, Dahlberg Divers, Gurglers, or any of your other favorite topwater bass bugs will produce fish even during the hottest part of the day. Base your leader size on the fly – generally I fish a 0x or 1x 9 foot leader with boogle bugs and gurglers, but on the diving frogs I like to beef up to a 12lb saltwater tapered leader. Target shaded eddies with laydowns and brush and put the fly in the deepest part of cover and hold on! If topwater flies don’t seem to do the trick, switch to staples like Clouser Minnows, Sparkle Minnows, and Finesse Gamechangers on a warmwater intermediate fly line like Scientific Angler’s Tropical Titan Clear Tip.
Toccoa Tailwater: TVA is still working on the dam, so we’re seeing flows higher than normal until further notice. Today, August 3rd, the TVA is running 750 cfs. This flow is too high to wade, but a float trip out of a stable boat like a drift boat or raft can be productive at this level. Fish early and late and take a couple rods for different scenarios and types of fishing – try throwing hoppers, beetles, and big stoneflies on the bank or streamer fishing if you don’t feel like nymphing! I like to rig a 5 weight with a 3x leader and a single hopper, but it may be more productive to drop a couple nymphs off the back, and don’t forget the split shot since the current is moving a little faster.
For the streamers, take a 7 weight with an intermediate or fast sinking fly line rigged with your favorite streamer. I like Galloup’s Dungeons, Sparkle Minnows, and Clouser Minnows, but if you want to hunt one big fish all day try big white or rainbow trout colored Gamechangers and T&A Bunkers in Olive/Yellow or Olive/White. I’m tying my own streamer leaders out of 30/20/15/12 lb fluorocarbon, but you will be equally as well suited with a Scientific Anglers Absolute Fluorocarbon 0X leader.
Small Streams are going strong! If water conditions are low/clear, use a 3 or 4 weight with a 9 foot 5x leader and a cup full of yellow dries or terrestrials. Think Yellow Sallies (Stimulators), Light Cahills, Sulphurs, Beetles, Ants, Golden Stoneflies, and Hoppers. Lengthen your leader another foot with 5x or 6x, wear drab colors, and stay back off of the targeted water! Fish will hold in the more oxygenated water through the hotter months of the year, so don’t leave an area without drifting a dropper nymph through the riffles and white water. I like to use unweighted soft hackle hare’s ear or pheasant tail nymphs in 18’s and 20’s for droppers under small dries, but if you’re throwing a foam terrestrial you can add a light #4 split shot through the deep or swifter water.
If we get more rain this week (I’m here in the shop looking at a decent shower now), I will take a second set up rigged with a mono rig or euro-style leader and a variety of jigged and tungsten flies in addition to both weighted and unweighted soft hackles. Split Case PMD Jigs, Pat’s Rubber Legs in Olive/Brown or Brown/Beige, Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle Jigs, tungsten El Diablos and Red Alerts, and Black or Brown Twisted Mayflies. High stick current seams and watch your line! Strikes aren’t always obvious, especially right after the cast in fast water – watch for your sighter material to jump.
Just as an added note: this time of year can be tough on the trout fishing. Keep an eye on water temperatures on any body of trout water you fish right now, get fish to the net as quickly as possible, and don’t keep fish out the water. Stop fishing if water temperatures are too warm! Better yet, take a few poppers to your favorite delayed harvest stream and catch a few bass!