What is it about fishing that entices us so much? Is it the hushed swish of the line, the peace that comes from being silent in nature, or the thrill of the catch? This topic will undoubtedly continue to be debated for generations to come, just as Bristol’s waterways will continue to offer themselves as a fisherman’s mecca.
The South Holston River is legendary for fly fishing. While the occasional smallmouth bass will make an appearance, it’s trout that make this river famous. The Tennessee Wildlife Agency (TWRA) keeps it stocked with rainbow trout, and it is also one of the few southern tailwaters with a heavy population of brown trout. The easy wading (when the Weir Dam isn’t open), various difficulty levels, and aquatic insect hatches provide a bounty of opportunities for all fishermen; rumor has it, even Brad Pitt has been seen taking a spin on the river!
There is a plethora of other prime fishing spots in the Bristol area in addition to the South Holston, and the options can at times be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are several professional guiding services that offer assistance to fishermen of all levels. South Holston River Fly Shop, Guided Fishing Trips at South Holston River Lodge, Mountain Sports Limited, South Holston River Company and Eastern Fly Outfitters, LLC are all available to provide you with a skilled local guide, so that you can get the most out of your fishing trip! For those who prefer to make their own way, there is no need to worry about running out of supplies; there are several shops ranging from small local businesses such as Just Fish’n and Wilson’s Bait & Tackle, to the always-dependable Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop.
Regardless of what draws you to the sport, your preferred fish, or trip type, Bristol is guaranteed to satisfy. Pro tip: a locally brewed beer and hot dinner are a must after a day on the river, so don’t forget to head downtown once you’re done!
- South Holston River Fly Shop – 608 Emmett Rd, Bristol, TN; (423) 878-2822; http://southholstonriverflyshop.com/
- Guided Fishing Trips at South Holston River Lodge – 1509 Bullock Hollow Rd, Bristol, TN; (877) 767-7875; http://www.southholstonriverlodge.com/
- Mountain Sports Limited – 1021 Commonwealth Ave, Bristol, VA 24201; (276) 466-8988; http://mtnsportsltd.com/flyfishing/
- South Holston River Company – 1084 Aberlea Valley Cir, Piney Flats, TN 37686; (276) 492-9614; https://www.southholstonrivercompany.com/
- Eastern Fly Outfitters, LLC – 6209 Bristol Hwy, Piney Flats, TN; (423) 538-3007; http://easternflyoutfitters.com/
- Just Fish’n – 15579 Lee Hwy, Bristol, VA; (276) 644-9541; https://justfishnstore.com/
- Wilson’s Bait & Tackle – 2723 Denton Valley Rd, Bristol, TN; (276) 628-7546
- Bass Pro Shop – 1 Bass Pro Dr, Bristol, TN; (423) 990-5200; https://stores.basspro.com/us/tn/bristol/1-bass-pro-dr.html
Written for Discover Bristol by: Katie Cronk