Fishing Season: Year Round

Watauga River - TN

Fishing Outlook & Conditions

Water Temp:


Brown Trout Fly Fishing's Tip of the Week

The TVA is releasing mostly in the mornings for now. Fish low if you’re wading early then move up high after the releases stop around 10. Of course keep an eye on the flows. They could change anytime.

Directions open in app

Map of Watauga River

Orvis-Endorsed guides nearby

Patrick Fulkrod
Brown Hobson

5-Day Outlook as of 2/24/22

Cooling temps and some rain coming

Techniques & Tips as of 2/24/22

Nymph and Dry Dropper, streamer

Local Species Available Year Round

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Brown Trout Fly Fishing's Recommended Fly Patterns

"Must-have" fly fishing patterns in descending order of importance:

Name: Colors: Size(s):
TH Zebra Midge Brown, Black, Olive, 18-24
English Pheasant Tail Olive and Black 18-24
Adam's Purple Parachute purple and adams gre 18-22
Quasimodo Pheasant Tail Natural 18-24
puff dadd Olive 18
Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail Natural 16-20
CDC Comparadun Oliver and Gray 18-22
Conehead Rubber Bugger Olive or Black 6-10
Micro May Olive 18-24
Wooly Bugger All 6-10

TH Zebra Midge

A handy midge fly pattern for stillwater.

Brown Trout Fly Fishing's Recommended Gear

Description: About Watauga River

The Watauga Tailwater starts at Wilbur Dam and flows through the communities of Siam and Hunter, the towns of Elizabethton and Watauga, then empties out into Boone Lake near Johnson City, Tennessee. The Watauga Tailwater is considered one of the best trout fishing destinations in the Southern Appalachians. Supporting sizeable fish per mile counts based on TWRA reports, it only seems fitting that the Cherokee Indians would call the Watauga “beautiful/plentiful water.” This 16-mile long tailwater receives daily recreational releases of cold water from Wilbur Dam flowing over its numerous shoals and riffles creating a most favorable environment for aquatic insect life and year round angling. Prime dry fly and sight fishing occur from the spring Caddis Hatch throughout the heat of the summer as other streams in the area become low and unproductive. The best section of the tailwater is the TVA designated “Quality Trout Zone” which begins at Smalling Bridge and continues downstream 2.5 miles. The Watauga Tailwater is home to an assortment of wildlife, stately towering bluffs and picturesque farms. From beginner to experienced anglers, the Watauga Tailwater offers great fishing and memory-filled opportunities for everyone.

Nearest Airport:

Tri Cities Regional, Asheville


Sulphurs midges baetis

Best Time to Fish:


Best Stretch:

The Upper Half

Best Access:

Wilbur Dam, Siam Bridge, Hunter Bridge, Blevins Rd, TVA Twin Bridges Ramp in Watauga, TN