The South Holston River is ranked one of the best trout tail-waters in the southeast! Anchored by the nation’s second largest earthworks dam, South Holston Dam, the River comes out of the bottom of a deep mountain lake. The water is around 40 degrees all year, which means there’s good wild rainbow and brown trout fishing year round.
Bristol has a couple of outfitters for gear and guided trips. Mountain Sports Limited and South Holston River Company are locally owned and have guides available. Additionally Cabela’s and Bass Pro have Bristol shops for your fishing gear needs.
From campgrounds to cabins, there are several lodging options along South Holston Lake and River, including South Holston River Lodge, SHRL specializes in all-inclusive fly-fishing packages.
Another option is Observation Knob, a Sullivan County park providing water and electrical hookups as well as primitive sites on Bristol’s east side. The campground has 175 sites shared by tents and RVs as well as group camping areas. Enjoy hot showers and flush toilets as well as a marina and boat ramp on site.
Or stay at Jacob’s Creek Recreation area on an island-like peninsula on South Holston Lake’s eastern shore, less than 30 minutes from downtown Bristol across the U.S. 421 Bridge. You won’t find electric hookups at the facility, but you can enjoy amenities that include a swimming beach, hiking trail, boat ramp and marina. Camping conveniences include a dump station, showers and picnic tables.