East Tennessee Outdoors: Outdoor News for the Week

Published 1:14 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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As May comes to a close, the weather is still unpredictable, but it has finally warmed up into the 80-degree (F) range. If you are lucky and watch the weather reports, you still can get out to fish and hike, but stay safe. Accidents can happen.

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During the Memorial Day weekend, a group of 20 hikers had to be rescued from the Devil’s Bathtub area of Southwest Virginia. The hikers had walked into the area and were trapped when heavy rain moved in an raised the creek levels to dangerous levels.

Unable to cross several of the creeks, the group contacted 911 and had to be evacuated.

Shortly after their rescue, forest service workers closed down the hiking area because they deemed it too dangerous.

A few of the hikers were treated for hypothermia and one hiker was treated for a twisted knee.

The trail was reopened to hiking last Wednesday, but forest service officials did want to remind all hikers that this area is for experienced hikers only.

Some of the trails are too difficult for inexperienced hikers to navigate even on good days

Tennessee Free Fishing Day:

This year Tennessee has designated June 6, 2020, as Free Fishing Day. This means that no resident or nonresident has to have a fishing license to fishing on any Tennessee waters.

They have also designated June 6, 2020, – June 12, 2020, as a Free Fishing week for any child 15 or under.

This means that all children, 15 or under, do not have to have a license to fish this week. This is a great time to take your child fishing and teach them about the great outdoors.

Lake Fishing:  

Fishing in both Watauga and Boone Lakes has picked up, especially in Watauga Lake. Expect to find smallmouth on the lower end of the lake.

The best largemouth fishing is on the upper end where Cobb Creek, Watauga River, and Elk River run into the lake.

With the water up high, some of the fish are still on their beds. Don’t be afraid to run up Roane’s Creek also.

There are still some good fish near the bridge up in Roane’s Creek. Just watch for the sandy spots.

Catfish Time:

Some good catfishing is starting to heat up. Almost all of them are being caught on natural baits like worms, nightcrawlers, and liver.

If you want to catch the larger fish, try fishing with small baitfish such as trout minnows, shiners, and bluegill.

For those who may be wondering, yes, it is legal to use bluegill for bait. However, you can only use bluegill for bait out of the body of water you have originally caught them. In other words, you can not import bluegill from other bodies of water and use them as bait.

The simplest thing to do is get to the lake early and catch a few bluegills to use for bait. Not every catfish will hit them, but usually when you get a bite, you are going to catch a good fish.

Camping and Creatures:

Almost all of the campgrounds are now open after being closed for the Covid-19 pandemic, and the weather is becoming perfect for camping and fishing.

If you go, make sure the camping area you are using is not underwater from the flooding and also watch for snakes.

Venomous snakes such as copperheads and rattlesnakes like the warm weather also. The flooding water can run them from their dens, and they will have to find another.
Be aware of your surroundings and watch where you are placing your feet. They like to avoid you as much as you like to avoid them.

Overall, it is a great season to be alive and enjoying the outdoors. Good luck camping and fishing and God bless.