We’ve heard stories of the South Holston fishery; its numbers and size of the fish that reside there. We met our guide for the day, head guide and namesake of the Champion Outfitters & Guide Service, Matt Champion, on a cold morning at the shop. The fog was shrouding the river and keeping the temps in the low 30’s. While we met at the shop at 9am, we really didn’t leave until 10, hoping to let the early risers head on down the river, and we’d have the river to ourselves. It turned out, most everyone thought it was too cold to start early, so when we arrived at the boat ramp, we found several drift boats dropping into the river. We waited our turn, and off we went.
Matt decided early on that we’d float the upper section of the river twice, taking a break for lunch in between. We started landing rainbows even as Matt told us it was about a 70/30 split between browns and rainbows in the SoHo. While the morning produced about an equal number of beautiful ‘bows and brownies, the afternoon turned brown. The bite was definitely on as we landed browns consistently all afternoon.
We had a great time on the river with Matt and landed more fish than we could count. At the end of the day, Barb and I both were nursing sore arms from fighting so many fish. The South Holston is a fishery not to be missed. When you go, make sure to give the shop a call and ask for Matt…. you might get Matt Champion or you might get Matt “Scooter” Gwynn…. in either case, you’ll have a great time on one of the Bristol area gems, the Watauga or South Holston.