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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Is there a ramp on Tannassee? I used a parking area on the south side of the lake and just carried my kayak down. Seems I remember a gravel area on the north side across the bridge but don’t remember if it’s a ramp. (?) It’s been probably close to 15 years since I’ve been up there.
 

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There is a primitive ramp by the bridge.....which is why your boat gives you an advantage. The lake seldom sees serious fishing pressure because of the poor launch conditions. I've seen numerous folks catching Trout on dough and marshmallows from the shore. I have done well pretty much everywhere there from my kayak. Your Gheenoe will be the largest boat in the lake. If that doesn't work for you.....Wolf and Bear are both Healthy Trout lakes as well and have regular ramps....D
 

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My trip to Watauga Lake yesterday was pleasant but didn't yield any big fish. It stayed cloudy and cool, relatively. We fished from early morn till about 1:30 p.m. It was really cloudy and it took longer than usual to get hot. I let my buddy Rusty pull in all the fish. We only had one early hit on a spoon behind a Magnum Dipsy Diver. The fish was on for about a minute before it pulled off. Rusty was impressed by the head shakes he felt. I figured we had lost a Laker that was 5 pounds or more. Rusty thought my analysis was about right.

We started getting strikes with some regularity about 10 a.m. which was close to a solunar minor feeding period, 10:20 - 11:20. The Dipsy diver spoon was hit four times in a row. Rusty hooked up with 3 Rainbows. All of them jumped when that got up to the surface. He let go two "Bows that were both about a foot long. The third Rainbow that Rusty wanted to keep for dinner got away it looked like it was about 18".

About 10:30 I pulled up the downrigger spoon that had been running at 85 feet and switched to a plug at 100 feet down. I was disappointed it hadn't gotten a hit when we pulled in the lines but indeed it did. There was a 16', 1.25 pound Laker that we had been pulling around for who knows how long. We never saw the rod twitch but boat traffic had picked as the day unfolded. Waves could have disguised rod wiggles that could of been telltale.

I'm having the little Laker tonight for dinner. I'm used to bigger. Fishing is tough in this heat.

Fin Seafood Fish Recreation Ray-finned fish
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I was wondering how you did. Thanks for the report.

I've dug through all my boxes, bags, storage bins, etc. and found a few things. Also ordered a few things. Got a small assortment of hoochies in 2 inch size. I've rigged a couple double snelled hooks to use with them. I don't yet have any wiggle lips so I just pushed a bead up in the head so the hoochie won't possibly pull down over the front hook. Thought I'd put half a nightcrawler on there. And I have a couple old spoons I removed the hooks from to use as a small dodger. I also have a few colorful cheap spoons in an assortment, three of which were a bit wider than typical. I've wondered about removing the hook and using one of those as a small dodger in front of a hoochie. Don't know how deep that will run, but if necessary, I can add an inline weight. I was running similar last Monday although without that spoon and hung up around 15 ft.
I received a Mack's Double D, 4.4" dodger in the mail today. Don't know if that would be better to use instead of a spoon, or if that's more for deeper water. I noticed apparently it can pull the bait away from the boat sort of like a planer (although I'm sure not as dramatic an angle) depending on which hole the line is hooked to.
I also have an assortment of small crankbaits. The ones shown are shallow runners or countdowns. I have a couple countdown Rapala's on order. One is perch the other brown trout finish. I have other smallish deep divers not shown. I thought trolling a crankbait or spoon on the downrigger may be reasonable with the hoochie not quite as deep on the above mentioned setup.
Liquid Line Slope Art Parasite Spoon lure Bait Fish hook Fish Fishing lure Road surface Asphalt Automotive tire Font Tar

Now it's a matter of where to go. Calderwood is farther and now I'm tempted to stop of one of the little "gems" since they're closer, and based on what Artisanthe told me. I wouldn't mind catching a couple holdovers for fillets. Been a long time since I had pink-red fleshed trout. I guess Michigan Steelhead were the last I caught. Stockers don't quite do it for me as far as eating. I caught some stockers this spring straight from the hatchery and they were barely edible. Of course, catching is necessary for eating so I don't mind cutting my teeth, so to speak, on stockers.
Next several days into next week isn't looking too promising weather wise though.
 

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You probably need to put one or more beads ahead of the hooks. You can use them to space the hooks back some or add flash or UV. When you get some wiggle lips you have to cut back the front tip of the hoochie skirt so it will slip over the back of the lip. If you fish hoochies without a wiggle lip, you should get some kind of dodger/flasher. I'd suggest that Mack's Double D 4+ inch model would be a good starting point. It will add some decent action to your lure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
You probably need to put one or more beads ahead of the hooks. You can use them to space the hooks back some or add flash or UV. When you get some wiggle lips you have to cut back the front tip of the hoochie skirt so it will slip over the back of the lip. If you fish hoochies without a wiggle lip, you should get some kind of dodger/flasher. I'd suggest that Mack's Double D 4+ inch model would be a good starting point. It will add some decent action to your lure.
I have a Mack’s Double D. How far behind that should the hoochie be? I assume a 3-4 ft leader?

I’m assuming the hoochie behind the dodger would be best on the downrigger at a depth as yet undetermined. I suppose, depending on water temp, I’d start blind around 15-18 ft or or so and watch for fish on the fish finder and adjust depth accordingly.

I can troll the small crank baits (or spoons) on a leader behind an inline weight. Should be able to get them down around 10-15 ft that way.
 

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I put lures 2-3 feet behind flashers. I mostly fish hoochies on lead-core line. If you buy any lead line, Tufline is by far the easiest one to do Willis Knots with. The Willis is for connecting mono to lead line. You can fish hoochies on the downrigger. I would if I was going for Kokanee. I mainly fish spoons and plugs with the downrigger. That 7.65 pound Laker I got hit a Michigan Stinger Bumble Bee spoon behind a Double D flasher. I think it was at 85 feet...??? I should keep a journal!

Fishing net Fish Recreation Wood Seafood
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
The best time to fish Calderwood is usually the first 2-3 hours after Cheoah starts generating. Check TVA's Fontana schedule.
Fontana has started it's fall release. There's plenty of current in all the downstream lakes. In Cheoah, Calderwood, and Chilhowie lakes I use my downrigger to run light wiggle spoons at 3-8 feet.
I have a couple questions: (And I hope I'm not wearing you or Artisanthe out with my incessant questions)

1. You run the downrigger as shallow as 3-8 feet?

2. So when Fontana is releasing, Cheoah is generating? Or, is generation at Fontana one and the same. Is the Santeetlah generation station actually at Cheoah Dam?

This info from TVA shows Fontana generating beginning at noon on 8/16. Is this what you mean when you say "best time to fish Calderwood is usually the first 2 - 3 hours after Cheoah starts generating"? Also, it shows no discharge until noon 8/16 and continuing the next two days at around 3000 cfs. Am I reading this correctly? And since Santeelah isn't shown on TVA's info, am I to assume it is owned and controlled by a different entity. If Santeetlah generates, doesn't that affect water flow in Calderwood?
I know, too many questions, just trying to get a handle on how to interpret it all.
Font Rectangle Parallel Number Screenshot
 

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Back when Alcoa owned Cheoah, Santeetlah, Calderwood, and Chilhowee, TVA provided their flow information. That ended when Brookfield bought the dams. You get their information at:

Brookfield Renewable

That link puts you at Cheoah's flow. The other 3 dams can be picked of the top of the page. Brookfield does not provide data as good as TVA's. One key thing to notice about Calderwood down on the bottom of the page. You do not want to go to Calderwood when they're putting water in the Cheoah Rivers for the river runners. There won't be anywhere to park. The river runners will over-run the Calderwood camping and parking areas. If Fontana is generating, the 3 downstream dams are or soon will be doing the same.

Santeetlah's powerhouse is in the middle of Cheoah Lake. When you drive from Deals Gap to Fontana you'll see it on the other side of the lake. Santeetlah does not provide all that much water but they get to generate it twice. When you drive from Calderwood to Santeetlah you go under the water pipes going to the powerhouse. My dad took us to Fontana for summer vacation when I was a kid. I was dumbstruck when I first saw a powerhouse on the side of a mountain in the middle of a lake. When I got home I found ways to read up on why. Later on my dad took us on vacation at Thunderbird Resort on Santeetlah Lake. I saw the tubes that crossed the road overhead for the first time, and the Cheoah River had way less water in it than it does now. The remnants of Thunderbird are part of the Santeetlah Marina now, next to the town of Lake Santeetlah.

Fontana has 3 generating units. Fontana can generate somewhere around 11,500 CFPS before they have to open up a gate to move more water. Cheoah and Calderwood both have 2 units. If they have to move much more than 10,000 CFPS, they have to open a gate. Chilhowee has 3 units. They can do a little over 12,000 CFPS before they have to open a gate.

I'm retired and have time to write this stuff. Fontana reported 136 CFPS at noon. At 1 p.m. it probably will be around 2500. When Fontana reports 2 or more generators, it's usually 6-9,000 CFPS.
 

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If I'm fishing in a lake where the Trout are shallow, I'll put out about 180 feet of line and put the spoon on the downrigger. 3 - 8 feet is about right in the 3 little lakes downstream from Fontana most of the time. When fishing Watauga ultra deep, I'll put out about 40 - 50 feet of line and hook to the downrigger and go down to 80 - 100 feet. The flutter spoons I'm showing you are too light to run alone. They need something to take them down. They wiggle more than heavy casting spoons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Back when Alcoa owned Cheoah, Santeetlah, Calderwood, and Chilhowee, TVA provided their flow information. That ended when Brookfield bought the dams. You get their information at:

Brookfield Renewable

One key thing to notice about Calderwood down on the bottom of the page. You do not want to go to Calderwood when they're putting water in the Cheoah Rivers for the river runners. There won't be anywhere to park. The river runners will over-run the Calderwood camping and parking areas. If Fontana is generating, the 3 downstream dams are or soon will be doing the same.

Fontana has 3 generating units. Fontana can generate somewhere around 11,500 CFPS before they have to open up a gate to move more water. Cheoah and Calderwood both have 2 units. If they have to move much more than 10,000 CFPS, they have to open a gate.

I'm retired and have time to write this stuff. Fontana reported 136 CFPS at noon. At 1 p.m. it probably will be around 2500. When Fontana reports 2 or more generators, it's usually 6-9,000 CFPS.
So the crowd of "river runners", which I assume to be white water kayakers and such, would correspond with the scheduled "Cheoah River High Flow Release" listed on the Santeetlah page ?

I think I'm getting a handle on things. I remember some of the details of the (Santeetlah) power house not being at the dam and wondering about that. I've only been out there one time when some friends and I were at the campground right behind Fontana dam and went down there with kayaks to paddle Calderwood. Gosh that must have been 16-17 years ago.

Looking this evening, Fontana is releasing 94-9500 -ish cfs and Cheoah and Calderwood is releasing 7700 and 8500 respectively.
So...that sounds like a lot to me but I really don't know. I would assume the anticipated heavy rains of this tropical storm Fred which is expected to drop a lot of rain in the extreme western part of the state. That on top of what we had last night. I had planned to go up to one of the "Gems" early today but at 4:00 AM a weather warning for the area was reporting 3-5" and by 6:00 AM 4-7" had fallen right on top of that area. Apparently a huge rain/thunderstorm cell just sat down right there.

Thanks for the link. I've bookmarked that along with TVA info for Fontana.
Also been doing some reading up on those dams. I knew Fontana was built during WWII and assumed they were all in that time frame. I didn't realize three of the other four were already there. I suppose most of the hydroelectric dams in this country were built in the 19-teens through the 30's or there about, as that would have been the time of "electrifying" the nation and the need for building the infrastructure, starting with generating facilities. Although, Cheoah was built in 1919, Calderwood in 1930, Santeetlah in 1928 and actually Chillowhee in 1957. According to Wikipedia all 4 were built by Alcoa. Apparently Alcoa owned 15,000 acres of the land where Fontana is, and about 1935 is when TVA got involved with flood control in that area, they began negotiating with Alcoa over the Fontana property. WWII was the catalyst for TVA to receive funding for building the dam which is when they reached agreement and took over from Alcoa with the return agreement that Alcoa would be the primary recipient of the power for the next 20 years. Fontana was completed in 1945, the year the war ended.
One does wonder why Alcoa built the Chillowhee dam in '57. Maybe they anticipated the 20 year agreement soon ending and feared not having their electricity needs met. I wonder if the 4 still provide power only to Alcoa now that Alcoa no longer owns them, or if the power just goes into the grid and Alcoa has other sources?
 

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I don't think that Alcoa Aluminum has any operation in Alcoa at this point. Their former plant is occupied by Arconic. They make aluminum. I'm not sure what their relationship with Alcoa is if any. Alcoa moved operations all over the place, Pennsylvania, Iceland, Brazil, and other places. Alcoa had very public arguments over Fontana power and didn't get the low price they wanted. That's when they started gradually shifting operations out of Tennessee. At it's height, the Alcoa plant was the largest factory in the world. The biggest buildings are still standing and in use by Arconic. Many of the smaller buildings have been bulldozed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 · (Edited)
Well, well, well. So, even this being new ground to break for me, it has been a bit discouraging.
I went to Calderwood Saturday (8/21) figuring the little "Gems" lakes would be in bad shape following the horrendous rain storm they suffered Monday, two days before Tropical Storm Fred dumped more. Started out with a hoochie with half a nightcrawler about 4' behind a Mack's Double D dodger. Dropped that down about 10' on the downrigger. Other side I had a small Rapala about 4-5' behind a 1/3 oz. inline weight. Water temp about 53°-55°. Puttered along, switching in and out of gear, speed ranging 1 - 2+ mph. Nothing. Thinking maybe the outboard even at idle was spooky, I switched to electric motor. Went about half way to the dam. The water was flowing visibly so actual speed of the baits through the water may have been a bit slower than boat speed. I tried various Rapalas, switching sizes and colors. Went from green to orange/white hoochie. Dropped the downrigger lower to 15-18' and even tried it at 5-7' even though I was marking no fish at that depth.

I marked fish from 1-20' with most in the 10'-15' range. In water over about 35-40 ft I saw no fish on the sonar. The farther I got down the lake the warmer the surface temperature became, and the less fish I marked. There was a little bit of wind, just enough to produce some surface chop.

Fontana was scheduled to start generating around 9 and while I was there the water level dropped maybe 1.5 - 2', indicating Calderwood had started up too. Fontana, Cheoah and Calderwood has been releasing 9000-10000 cfi during daylight hours almost all week. That sounds like a lot but I don't know what's normal.
I trolled back to the ramp skunked, with nothing to show for the day other than stiffened muscles, and arrived about the same time as the rain and the bottom dropped out as I strapped down the boat getting me soaked.

I don't know if water levels and flows, coupled with the atrocious rain the past week had anything to do with it or not. At the ramp, there were two older gentlemen who had arrived a few minutes before me who were cleaning a fine mess of trout, some were nice sized too. Obviously, they know something I don't know. I saw no evidence of a trolling setup on their boat so they may not have trolled. I don't know. But obviously the trout didn't have lockjaw, or not where they fished anyway. I never saw them fishing, only as they were headed back so they were in the lower part of the lake.

Monday I went to Tannassee. Sure enough it was full of limbs, logs, almost whole trees and much various debris. There was an incredible amount of debris. It looked clearer away from the head of the lake, so I put in the boat. There were clear sections but overall the debris was a challenge. I ran the same setups and drill as I did at Calderwood on Saturday, and I marked a number of fish, again mostly around 10-15 ft with a few slightly deeper. Like Saturday, I marked no fish over deeper water. Only thing I tried which I didn't on Saturday was a Rooster Tail spinner behind an inline weight. Not that it made any difference. I DID NOTICE on some glassy smooth water, the Macks Dodger was at the surface. (?) I thought I had debris on the line causing it to plane up to the surface but the line was clear. I don't know why it would plane up to the surface and I wondered if that was what was happening all day Saturday at Caulderwood but went unnoticed because of the surface chop. Dunno but I took it off, and the hoochie too since it wasn't producing and tried various Rapalas and a couple different spoons. Also tried dropping the downrigger deeper. Big Fat Zero, nada, nothing, complete skunk. Considering the amount of debris present, I can't imagine the "stuff" that has flushed through there out of Tannassee Creek and the Tuckaseegee.

So....maybe the horrendous rain event of the past week flushed so much through there, including food, that the fish are gorged and just sitting around fat and happy. Or maybe the flood was just a turn off. I know sometimes a big weather event can throw everything out of whack, so to speak. This was full moon weekend which SHOULD be better than average, solunar-wise. Maybe it's just we're in the summer doldrums. And maybe I don't know what I'm doing. But when I'm marking fish on sonar at 10-15' and the downrigger is at 10' and the other rod with inline weight I assume is running at 8-10', well I don't know what to do differently.
One last thought, I DO wonder if that humming of the downrigger line would spook fish. (?) I know some switch to braid instead because of the humming, but most of the reasoning I've seen behind switching was the humming bugs the person.

Here's a picture of my only "catch" at Calderwood, a pretty landscape/sky. This of course before the rain rolled in.
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