There are three forks to the Holston River, but if you are into fishing for trout, the South Fork is the one you want. In less than two hours drive from Asheville, you can be fishing one of the finest tailwater trout waters east of the Mississippi. The 112 mile long South Fork Holston River, referred to as the SoHo, is part of the greater Tennessee River drainage basin, managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Oblivious to borders, the river starts in Virginia and ends at its confluence with the North Fork in Tennessee.
The South Holston Dam, the uppermost of three on the South Fork, created the landmark South Holston Lake. It is the tailwaters below the lake that have made this stretch of water so desirable. Here, the insects are humming, the favorable water temperature is uniform 12 months of the year and the fish are thriving.
Throughout the approximate 15 mile section below the dam, stocked rainbows, wild browns and smallmouth bass can be found. According to a recent Tennessee Wildlife Resource Authority (TVRA) survey, there are 5,000 to 6,000 trout per mile, averaging 12 inches in length; it’s not uncommon to find 20+ inches.
This is a river that is usually floated but can be waded depending on water levels. Because the TVA is constantly adjusting water flows, levels can change without notice and whether floating or wading, obtaining a release schedule and a skilled guide is highly recommended.
Before booking a trip keep in mind that sections of the river are closed to protect spawning browns between November and January, all trout 16-20 inches must be released and only one over 22 inches may be taken home.