Heading to lake fontana and then blairsville ga--advice please
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Thread: Heading to lake fontana and then blairsville ga--advice please

  1. #1
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    Default Heading to lake fontana and then blairsville ga--advice please

    Hi folks,

    We will be at Fontana Village the 3rd week of july. We usually troll spoons, plugs, & nightcrawler rigs 40-60 feet deep by the Fontana dam and do ok on Rainbows and all species there. Sometimes we tie up to the dam at dusk and use lights til midnight and do well on Rainbows and Walleyes.

    We sometimes also fish Santeelah, Cheoah and Calderwood and do well on 15'' trout with a few 2-4 lber's mixed in

    Any fishing locations, or suggestions or reports will be greatly appreciated.

    The last week of july we stay in Blairsville (proximity to bluebacks) and usually fish Appalachia in the am and striper fish elsewhere in the pm around the Thunder storms--notteley, Hiwassee, chatuge. Usually one morning we drive 75 miles and fish Nantahala. Again, any suggestions are appreciated.

    So blessed to spend two weeks in the mountains.

    thank you
    GreyGhost likes this.


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  3. #2
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    I just got back from that area. I posted a report and a few pics but I caught far more than I posted. Fontana is practically over run with spotted bass. I seem to do quite well on them. They really like a night crawler on a jig head. Caught walleye and smallmouth the same way. Fishing was good for me around any inflows of water. I only fished Cheoah once this trip, trolled hoochies behind trolling weights and only caught one rainbow. Attempted Nantahala but just ended up fishing pan fish with the family. Wolf Creek Reservoir was beautiful and made for a decent day of pan fish considering the learning curve and it was a short day.
    GreyGhost likes this.


  4. #3
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    Thank you.

    I have fished the area the last 2 summers and had good success not great. In Fontana - lots of little spotted bass, lots of white bass, lots of Rainbows 2 lbs ish---saw pics of some huge brown trout too, walleye are usually 15-16''---I would love to find some trophies because I know they are there. My wife lost a huge walleye off a point near the dam. I should try in front of the bigger flows this time.

    The night fishing under green lights at the dam has been fast and fun---no giants but very cooperative fish.
    bfishy, gambusia, and GreyGhost like this.


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  6. #4
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    Fishing was good today at Santeetlah. I think I landed 10 trout. I threw back several small ones. The biggest one was an 18" Brown. I got 3 Rainbows in the 15-17" range. No Walleyes today but did catch a puny Largemouth on a spoon. Spoons ruled the day, no hits on plugs, and only 2 strikes on Walleye-Trout lures with a crawler behind 'em, and one little 'Bow for the effort.

    Have you considered a jaunt up I-26 to Watauga? I've caught a 2-fish Laker limit on every trip, four, up there this year. I have not hit a big one this year yet, but the keepers have run 2.5-4.5 pounds. I got bunches of 'em in the 5-8 pound range last year.... The Rainbow bite has been good too....

    A friend fished Calderwood a few days back and got a nice 21" Brown and several 15-17" Rainbows in just a few hours of fishing.

  7. #5
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    thank you

    What area of santeelah were you fishing ? We generally fish with a mile of the dam ad do fairy well.

    We have fished watuaga in the past(10 years ago, and did well) but I think it would be tough to leave Fontana village and 4 lakes to hit Watuaga 170 miles away. We will make it back there but I'll rent a place on the lake or a few miles away

    What area of Watuaga do you fish. We stayed at Lakeshore and fished between there and the dam. We went 3 years in a row.
    We caught some 3-5lb rainbows and 3-5 lb lakers and landed 1 that was 10.5lbs---also a few nice smallies and walleye

    Thanks so much. Appalchia is my absolute favorite lake though.......
    bfishy likes this.


  8. #6
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    I wanted to fish Apalachia this year but didn't. Its a beautiful lake. I'm still working on trophy trout and walleye myself. Its a beautiful area. Enjoy your stay.

  9. #7
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    Apalachia can be tough but we have done very, very well. We do a week in march and a week in july each year for the last 3 years. Numerous Browns in double digits and lots of other quality fish. They do not run the water much in march but in july --look out. I like fishing when the water is not flowing because the fish act like they are in a lake. You must be careful on the water releases. I will put in and take out on 1 generator but avoid it when it is 2 or more. TVA has an excellent app for smart phones so you can plan your day trip to any TVA lake based on releases.

    No other lake in this region gives us the chance to catch such monsters. Not Easy but they are there. last july--1st 2 days a few 2 lb trout fishing 5-7 hours each morning. The 3rd morning---best fishing day in years 2 Smallies over 5lbs, a dozen Browns over 4 lbs--2 were real monsters, 2- 4lb Rainbows, a 9lb catfish, and a bunch of smaller fish. All except a couple smaller trout were released. My wife and stepdaughter had doubles all morning and we were fishing the same area as the previous days. Same baits too.

    That's why we fish.

    thanks
    bfishy, gambusia, and Troutgirl like this.


  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RI RORYL View Post
    thank you

    What area of santeelah were you fishing ? We generally fish with a mile of the dam ad do fairy well.

    We have fished watuaga in the past(10 years ago, and did well) but I think it would be tough to leave Fontana village and 4 lakes to hit Watuaga 170 miles away. We will make it back there but I'll rent a place on the lake or a few miles away

    What area of Watuaga do you fish. We stayed at Lakeshore and fished between there and the dam. We went 3 years in a row.
    We caught some 3-5lb rainbows and 3-5 lb lakers and landed 1 that was 10.5lbs---also a few nice smallies and walleye

    Thanks so much. Appalchia is my absolute favorite lake though.......

    I've been fishing the lower part of Santeetlah from Cheoah Point upstream past the town and then making a big turn in that wide area to go back downstream. I'm guessing that as the summer and fall progress that's where the Trout and Walleyes will concentrate. I'm worried about straying out of the narrow channels upstream and snagging the downrigger ball and lead-core lines. Before this spring, the only other time I'd fished Santeetlah was in the late 60's or early 70's when I was a kid. My dad took us on vacation at Thunderbird Resort that is now part of the town of Lake Santeetlah.

    I always start fishing at Watauga at Rat Branch Ramp. In the late winter and early spring I'll go all the way up to Roan Creek sometimes. I went all the way up the Elk River arm one spring. I didn't catch any Trout but one of the Smallmouths I caught had a Laker, stocker's tail sticking out of it's throat when I was removing my plug. Whilst the water is still cold, the Trout will roam all over.

    Once it gets hot, I will still go up the narrows past the Butler Bridge and make a big loop in that wide area and go back downstream. I often see fish and bait there on sonar or catch something in that area. I've caught an awful lot of Lakers near the big island about a mile downstream from the bridge narrows. Sometimes I stay in the lower lake. That's where the Lakers will be concentrated. The Rainbows will be about half as deep as the Lakers. I put out more lines for Lakers most of the time. I'm getting better at finding the Rainbows when I limit out on Lakers this year. Folks up there say the Rainbow bite is better this year than in some while.

    I'm surprised that you like Apalachia when Hiwassee isn't generating. I've just fished Apalachia once last summer. I was gonna go back in the fall but the fires kept me away. I was gonna go back this March but my friend backed out and I went to Watauga instead that day. Because of the drought this spring, Hiwassee was barely generating. Some days they generated 2 hours and when it was time to fill Hiwassee Lake, they quit generating at all. So, I gave it a miss and fished elsewhere.

    On my one trip, in the afternoon, when it got too hot for me to fish anymore, Hiwassee started generating on one of it's two generators at about a 3500 CFPS clip. That didn't cause me any problem at the ramp, all by myself. 7000 CFPS might be a problem....? Hiwassee's second generator is both a generator and a pump. During slack demand periods they sometimes pump water from Apalachia up for a second go. If you look at the TVA flow page and it says "-999" for a given hour, they're pumping for an estimated, peak demand later. Unit 2 was added in the 1950's. The Hiwassee River isn't all that big most of the time. TVA only needs the second unit when flow is well above average. Apalachia sure needs a proper ramp someplace, anyplace down lake!

    I was operating on the assumption that Apalachia ought to fish somewhat like Chilhowee Lake. In Chilhowee the bite is usually better when Calderwood is generating. Chilhowee is about the same size as Apalachis but shallower. At Chilhowee, from mid summer through the fall, the Smallmouths and Rainbows would drive the plentiful, little baitfish into the generation current, which could be below the main ramp, just below Abrams Creek Bridge, or 1-2 miles upstream. Fontana sets the rules.... All you need do is long-line little rap plugs, 1.5-2.5", and drive through them. The plugs should run 3-8 feet. I like Rapalas and Berkley Pro in colors that have some purple on 'em. The Smallies and 'Bows have a feeding frenzy in the afternoons. There's lots of 3-6 pound Rainbows. Well, that was before the draw-down to repair the dam back in September of '15.

    4 or 5 years from now Chilhowee ought to be back to normal. It's filling back up presently. It's got about 15 feet to go. Rainbow fishing is really fun in Chilhowee. They jump more in there than the lakes that have a hot tops that goes way down. The hot top on Chilhowee is at most 8 feet thick at the dam and only a few feet thick once you get upstream of Abrams Creek. The shallow, warm layer is no hindrance to them, they jump. The Rainbows in Chilhowee hit wiggle hoochies really well. I think they take them to be emerging nymphs. I've picked up plenty of Smallmouths on 'em too. Fish them deep, 15-30 feet, and at least 150 feet back. The fish are extra boat shy in Chilhowee due to silting in over the years, it's gonna be at most 70 feet deep at the dam. Light doesn't just keep going down, down, down and diminishing. In Chilhowee, the light bounces off the bottom for extra good illumination for the fish. Never use flouro over 8 pounds in the daytime. 4 or 6 will yield more strikes.

    I miss Chilhowee....here's what it looked like on the way home from Santeetlah yesterday.
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  11. #9
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    Fontana is not known for big walleye but that may change with bluebacks in the lake

  12. #10
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    I wonder if they will continue to stock Chillhowee with lakers?

  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gambusia View Post
    I wonder if they will continue to stock Chillhowee with lakers?
    It's alright with me if they do but they're very hard to catch in shallow Chilhowee. I suspect that they have the best eyesight of all the Trout and Chars. I hope they mix in some Browns going forward. They might even spawn in Abrams Creek or above the Calderwood Powerhouse in the late fall...??? I think if they put some of the northern strain Brook Trout in Chilhowee, it would only be a matter of time before the state record would get broken....which is less than 5 pounds. They stock 'em below Norris and Center Hill. The record used to be 3-14 from the Hiwassee River when they stocked 'em there back in the 70's. The new record is from below Center Hill and it was caught on a minnow. It's 4-12. I'd think that Chilhowee can support virtually any Trout or Char you might stock it with except maybe Arctic Char...???

    I think I had a really big Laker on at Chilhowee back in the summer of '15. I was trolling a little, purple (Slick Purple Candy) Berkley Pro rap plug way out to the side behind a Church Walleye board. The drag started screaming and I doubted I was snagged. The plug runs 4-8 feet deep. As I started gaining some line on the fish, it wasn't gonna have that. The board went under as if it was a bobber. I had the fish on for 10 minutes and somewhere in that 10 minutes the board came back to the surface for a few seconds. The fish brushed the plug out, apparently, in some aquatic vegetation. That's all that was left on my plug when the monster pulled off. I never boated one till I fished Watauga Lake.

    The only Laker that I, for sure, tangled with at Chilhowee was about 5-6 pounds. After trolling Chilhowee all afternoon for Lakers with spoons, at dark, I anchored about 100 yards from the Abrams Creek Bridge. I threw out a float light and two lines with crawlers on 'em. I fed the dog and started to eat my sandwich and bang, I had a strike. It took me 20 minutes to get the fish up to the net. Just as I was reaching for the net, the Laker had one last head-shake left in him and out flew the hook. If I'd been fishing with a friend, they probably would of scooped up the exhausted fish...??? C'est la vie....c'est la fishin'!
    bfishy, and gambusia like this.


  14. #12
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    It may be time to attempt lakers again in the blue back herring lakes that failed previously. On that note, I think if you stocked kokes and lakers in Fontana, Cheoah and Calderwood for a minimum of 4 years in a row you would establish a fishery in those places. They have to be able to reproduce naturally though. I'm not a scientist, just my 2 cents.

  15. #13
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    Tennessee stocks lakers. NC does not and will not (at least for now).

    There are some nice lakers coming out of South Holston and Watauga so the stockings are successful to a degree. These lakes have been stocked for years though.

    Fontana would be a great lake to try lakers but again the WRC is not interested. Plus the WRC only stocks triploid trout anymore.

    But how hard would it be to obtain laker eggs from Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery or get them to raise the fingerlings like they do for TN? Not hard I'd guess.

  16. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfishy View Post
    It may be time to attempt lakers again in the blue back herring lakes that failed previously. On that note, I think if you stocked kokes and lakers in Fontana, Cheoah and Calderwood for a minimum of 4 years in a row you would establish a fishery in those places. They have to be able to reproduce naturally though. I'm not a scientist, just my 2 cents.
    I believe that stocking Kokanee in Fontana is a big no-no. The National Park Service probably would not want Kokanee spawning in the park. I don't see what objection they could possibly have against Lake Trout. Lakers don't spawn in streams as far as I know. I've seen Lakers spawn in the shallows of Lake Placid in New York. They chase each other about and the females lay eggs between rocks. It has to be a clean, rocky bottom. Even if there is a strain of Lakers that does spawn in streams, they'd be too large to go up most of the streams unless they were rain swollen. Lakers don't spawn till they're 7-9 years old. They're quite large by then. When I watched Lakers spawn, I thought some looked over 30 pounds.

    About 5 years ago on a Tennessee fishing forum that's gone extinct, a guy sent me a private message about Lakers in Watauga. I sent him a PM back and asked him if Lakers spawned or tried to spawn. He PM'ed me back that they gathered in "some cove in February". I PM'ed him back and asked what cove but never heard back from him again. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some reproduction in Watauga. There's a surviving population in Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas from stockings long ago. If Fontana has some shallow, rocky areas, devoid of silt, Lakers might spawn...? The downstream, super-cooled, water from Fontana supported Lakers very well. Fontana must certainly be an even better habitat. Those hundreds of feet of cold water in the lower end of the lake could become a Laker mecca, I'd think.

    Some lawmakers here in Tennessee did a study about the 1.2 million dollars that's the state's share of the cost of stocking Trout statewide. The Fed's pay some of the cost of stocking as compensation for all the altered habitat caused by the TVA and Corps Of Engineers dams. The study concluded that the 1.2 million was made back and more on the sale of Trout Stamps alone. They estimated that the economic activity around Trout fishing was $53,000,000. Federal money might be available to Carolina to stock Lakers, possibly? Fontana Dam radically changed the habitat above and below the dam.

    All the unused water in the depths of Fontana looks like a wasted asset to me.

  17. #15
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    I don't know why they would care if Kokanee spawned in the park. The trout would feast on eggs and fry every year. It would likely help both the native brookies and the spawning rainbow/brown populations. If they ever for some reason returned all the reservoirs to rivers, the kokes would die off anyway.

    As for cold deep water, I wonder if there is enough oxygen down there and if the bluebacks would be in the cooler parts of the lakes where the lakers would be.

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