Wading the South Holston River
I highly recommend that you hire a guide if your budget allows. I am not saying this to get a gig, as I am not available for hire. I am trying to help you enjoy your time on the South Holston. If you do, you will almost certainly catch more fish and you will learn the techniques required to succeed on one of the most challenging yet rewarding rivers in the U.S.
Never attempt to wade the South Holston during high water flows. The South Holston offers very good access for wading during times of low flow. In some areas, the river bed consists of small gravel and smooth stone where just about any adult could wade easily. Other areas have bedrock with sharp ledges and cuts that will challenge any wader and would be dangerous for most. Pick your areas carefully and don't take chances. If you don't feel comfortable or safe where you are, move elsewhere. It never hurts to have a wading staff just in case. If at any time you think the water might be rising, leave the river immediately.
Some of the best wade fishing can be found by starting at one of the access points and walking 5 or 10 minutes upstream or downstream. Please respect private property and honor all posted areas. It is my understanding that once in the river, you can legally venture anywhere you want as long as you stay on the river side of the high water mark.
NOTE: Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) has found a home in the South Holston river. Please help slow the spread of this invasive specie of alga by removing all visible remnants of plant matter from you gear (flies, boots, anchor, rope, boat, waders, etc.) and allow them to dry completely before you use this gear in another stream or river.
Be extremely careful when wading in areas with didymo on the rocks. It is slicker than grease. Try to step down between the larger rocks, not on top of them. Look for pebbles, gravel or sand for the best footing. Never try to wade on a large sloped surface.
Not only should you not litter, you should pick up any trash you come across. Together, we can keep the South Holston River beautiful.
1. Picnic Area at the Weir: This area sees a bit of traffic as it is very accessible. The wading is very easy with small cobble substrate, but watch out for deeper holes. The water is mostly shallow and the flows are gentle to almost nonexistent in some areas. This area is worth a look, but if it is crowded, I would keep traveling. On winter days, you may have this area all to yourself and enjoy an epic (or possibly excruciating) midge hatch. This area has a ton of smaller stockers, but also has some real brutes cruising around.
2. Above the Grates Immediately above the grates there is a long island accessible via the footbridge. Both sides of the island hold fish, but the near side is much easier to wade. I recommend trying very small nymph and larva patterns with very light tippet in this area.
3. Below the Grates: Below the grates and the bridge, the river broadens and the flows snake through stone ledges. You can walk down a trail for about a 1/2 mile or more on the East side of the river and enter at any number of easy to find access trails. The ledges hold trout in even the skinniest of water, but be very careful. This area has some deep slots and you could twist and ankle, take a swim or worse. Nymph the slots or fish to risers.
4. Turnouts: Following the river down, there are quite a few turnouts along the way. I'd guess aroung 50 spots, so be sure to explore. Drive along and select the type water you prefer to fish.