As an angler, some waters are more fun to fish than others. The Watauga River is fun to fish and we love it for its variety of features. It has fast water with deep, grassy banks, large boulders, and cobblestone that provide great holding areas for trout and long, slow, deep pools with limestone ledges and bluffs.

 It has all the water types a trout could ever want. In any given day, it offers anglers a chance to target trout on dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. We focus our attention on the section of the Watauga that’s a tailwater.  This section begins at Wilber dam and terminates into Boone Lake approximately 20 miles downstream. Being a tailwater, it flows from the bottom of the dam, maintaining a cold and consistent temperature ranging from 45-65 degrees year-round.

The Watauga River offers great fishing all year. We encourage waders to check flows, as this river is not wade-friendly when Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is generating. This river is best targeted on a Full Day Float with the option to get out and wade during low water flows. In addition to its various water types, the Watauga River is a blue ribbon trout factory boasting around 6000 fish per mile, made up by 85 percent wild brown trout and the other 15 percent by stocked and wild rainbow trout. Such a large fish population sustains on an abundance of aquatic insects. It is known for its caddis, but also has great BWO and Sulfur mayfly hatches, crane flies, and terrestrials. The Japanese beetles start falling out of the sycamore trees at the beginning of summer, and offer world-class sight fishing for trophy wild brown trout. We have been all over the country chasing trout, and the Watauga is one of our favorites.