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Holston River - South Fork - Fishing Opportunities

The South Fork Holston River special regulation trout fishery is one of the premier trout streams in southwest Virginia. It offers an excellent opportunity for anglers to catch many rainbow trout and large brown trout. Fishing the river with conventional spinning tackle can be very productive by selecting lures common to those used in fishing for smallmouth bass as long as they are single hook artificial lures. Any type of soft-plastic worm, grub, lizard, crawfish, or minnow on a single hook jig head is the key.

Fly-fishing tackle is excellent and almost always produces good numbers of trout. The river has a large forage base of aquatic insects and patterns to match include everything from tiny caddis larvae to giant black stonefly nymphs. During late winter, as spring approaches, a few warm, sunny days in succession may prompt blue-wing olive mayfly hatches, offering anglers occasional spurts of dry-fly action.

The activity levels of trout and trout anglers both increase greatly with the arrival of spring. All the standard fly-fishing tactics are applicable as insect hatches swing into action. In high-flow conditions, a bulky streamer or flashy spinner can produce impressive results.

As the long days of summer bring low, clear flows, anglers must adjust their fishing tactics accordingly to be successful. Keeping a low profile and making long casts can help prevent spooking the trout.

As waters cool in fall, trout everywhere begin feeding heavily, and those in the South Fork are no exception. Autumn also offers the best chance to tangle with one of the stream's trophy brown trout as they prepare to spawn. Large streamers such as muddler minnows, wooly buggers, and woolhead sculpins are the best choices for the fly angler seeking a big brown trout.

However, the best advice for an angler considering a trip to the South Fork Holston River is simply go for it. Even on the rare day when the trout refuse to cooperate, the experience of being on one of Virginia's most beautiful rivers makes any trip worthwhile.

For float fishing trips in Washington County, go to the Maps section of this site.