Close this search box.

Let it Fly in Bristol, TN/VA

Downtown Bristol credit Jared Kreiss

Fast cars, country music, and fishing are a way of life in Bristol, Tennessee & Virginia. Offering some of the best fly fishing in the world, this charming region invites anglers to enjoy scenic views, entertaining excursions, and an unforgettable outdoor experience like no other. 

South Holston River credit Jared Kreiss

World-Class Fishing

Fly fishers will delight in the South Holston River, which is 60 to 100 yards wide and a nationally recognized trout fishery. The tailwater of the South Holston River emanates from the South Holston Dam, and the deep, oxygen-rich water of South Holston Lake keeps it cool enough so that fishing conditions are excellent all year. Boasting nearly 10,000 wild brown trout a mile, the world-class fishery produces rainbow and brook trout, striped, smallmouth, largemouth bass, walleye, pike, muskie, and carp. In other words, it’s a fly fisherman’s paradise. 

South Holston Lake credit Jared Kreiss

During non-generating hours, fly fishermen and fisherwomen can wade about 85 percent of the river, another benefit for those who prefer it over casting from a boat. Anglers of all proficiencies can fish the SoHo as the river ranges from easy to difficult depending on the type of fish you’re after. The South Fork Holston River is also home to an annual spring migration of white bass, while the Spring Creek embayment on South Holston Reservoir is one of the best-known waterfowl birding sites in East Tennessee. 

A Dam Good Time

The monumental earth and rockfill South Holston Dam, standing proudly at 285 feet, spans 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River. Completed in 1950, this engineering marvel offers a panoramic view of the lake and valley, creating an awe-inspiring backdrop for memorable photos. Explore the network of trails near the dam, originally carved by avid anglers drawn to the area’s allure. Offering ADA accessibility at key points like the fishing pier, overlook, paved trail, picnic spots, restrooms, and the visitors center, the 1.8-mile Osceola Island Loop Trail beckons with views of the weir dam, wildlife encounters, and a front-row seat to fly fishermen in action. 

South Holston Lake is also among the top lakes in Tennessee and the Southeast for boating activities and smallmouth bass fishing. Nestled on the cusp of the Appalachian Mountains, this 7,589-acre lake straddles the Tennessee-Virginia border, embraced by the Cherokee National Forest. 

Play and Stay

No trip to Bristol is complete without a visit to one of NASCAR’s most famous racetracks! Bristol Motor Speedway is a great option for those looking to do something between trips to the river. Vibrant Downtown Bristol also offers plenty of activities for the whole family, including specialty stores, dining establishments, breweries and distilleries, antique shops, and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum!

For fishing enthusiasts seeking an immersive experience on the SoHo, South Holston River Lodge beckons with all-inclusive packages. Indulge in professionally guided fly fishing excursions, unwind in luxury riverside accommodations, savor delectable cuisine, and more. Conveniently situated just half a mile below the dam, the South Holston River Fly Shop, and Mountain Sports Ltd. stand ready to provide outfitting and guide services to enhance your angling adventure.

Share this post:

Discover more in the Blue Ridge:

Join our newsletter!

Subscribe to receive the latest from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine sent directly to your inbox.