The Clinch River tailwater originates from the base of Norris Dam and flows roughly 14 miles before entering Melton Hill Lake. Generally flowing through private land, floating is the best way to experience this river. Due to the endless combinations of generation schedules, the Clinch is many rivers in one and you will rarely get to fish the same river twice.
Small bugs and light tippets are standard procedure here. Sulphers, scuds, sow bugs, and midges make up the bulk of the forage. When the sulphurs are in abundance there is no place you would rather be but this particular hatch is extremely subject to changes in flow and weather. Though there may not be a huge diversity in aquatic forage, these fish are well fed and want for nothing. On the other side of the food spectrum large piscivorous fish feed on a variety of smaller river fish and young trout.
We generally use 4 and 5 weight rods and 9 to 12ft leaders in 5 or 6x tippet though at times 7x will save the day. Light gear coupled with fast, robust Brown and Rainbow trout make for a very challenging fight. The Clinch can show off and make you feel like a rock star some days but be advised, this water requires a skillful cast and a respectful presentation to really tear them up.For the “aggro angler” who likes big water, big streamers, and big fish, the Clinch can accommodate you as well. Leave the 6x behind – grab your favorite 8wt and a fist full of streamers and huck away. Good streamer fishing can be found most anytime we find ourselves with a larger generation schedule but big water October through February can produce some true trophies.