Scott County is home to two major rivers, each of which flows through nearly untouched countryside full of stunning bluffs, deep swimming pools and rolling farmland.
The Clinch River is one of the most diverse rivers in the nation, full of rare plants and animals, some of which can be found nowhere else on earth. Small rapids on the northeastern end of the river give way to flat waters which even a novice can navigate, and both sections of the river are well endowed with many species of game fish.
The North Fork of the Holston River is less well known, but offers a similar seclusion with even fewer paddlers. The North Fork is also a trophy smallmouth bass fishery, with bass over 20 inches long regularly pulled from its waters.
Burton’s Ford Access Boat Ramp
This stretch of the Clinch may be too difficult for raw beginners, but everyone else is bound to enjoy the scenery and small rapids. The Clinch winds between picturesque cliffs and over a few ledges and small falls which may require you to portage in dry weather. Deer drink from the edge of the river while kingfishers fly overhead. If you enjoy fishing, this is a good stretch of the Clinch to ply your trade, full of smallmouth bass and walleye.
From Dungannon, travel east on Rte 65 for 8 miles, then turn left onto Rte 611. Follow Rte 611 (veering right at one point to remain on Rte 611) until it deadends on the bank of the Clinch River.
Miller’s Yard to DungannonMap
Distance: 3.7 miles
Gradient: 10 ft/mile
This is a good float when you do not have a lot of time. Put in at the informal access at Miller’s Yard. Several good pools and lots of runs and riffles await you downstream. This float has excellent potential for bass and sunfish, and also produces walleye and sauger. Takeout is on the right, just downstream of the Route 65 bridge at Dungannon. If you have all day to float you can extend your float to Route 659 described below.
Dungannon to Route 659Map
Gradient: 10 ft/mile
The Dungannon access is one of only two concrete boat ramps on the Clinch River. This is a productive float for smallmouth, walleye, sauger, sunfish and catfish. A variety of takeout possibilities exist along route 659, which parallels the river for several miles. Select a sire based on the distance you wish to float and available access to the river. It is best to secure permission from the property owner when selecting a take out location.
Route 659 to Fort BlackmoreMap
Distance: 8 miles*
Gradient: 3.1 ft/mile
*The distance of this float depends on where you launch from route 659, but will be at least 8 miles. This float includes a lot of flat water. The slow and deep pools are good habitat for sunfish, catfish, walleye, and musky. Bring an electric trolling motor for this float, or be prepared to spend some time paddling. This float includes the pool know locally as “the retch” – a pool that stretches almost five miles with an average depth of about 14 feet. Some of the best musky fishing on the Clinch River is found in this float. Striped bass and white bass, migrants from Norris Reservoir in Tennessee, are sometimes caught on this float. Takeout is on the left, at an informal access just downstream of the Route 72 bridge in Fort Blackmore.
Fort Blackmore to Hill StationMap
Distance: 7.9 miles
Gradient: 1.9 ft/mile
This is one of the most scenic floats on the river. Just downstream of Fort Blackmore lies Pendelton Island. Fishing is this section is good for bass and sunfish, and walleye and sauger are also available. The gradient is low in this section, so floaters should allow plenty of daylight time to reach Hill Station. Takeout is on the left side of the river, just upstream of the route 645 bridge. The Hill Station access can be found off of route 645 on the southeast side of the river.
Hill Station to Clinchport Map
Distance: 5.2 miles
Gradient: 2.0 ft/mile
Put in at the Hill Station access described above. This section is typical of the lower river. Lazy pools provide good fishing for sunfish and catfish, while faster water at the scattered riffles offers smallmouth bass fishing. Take out on the right side of the river at the Clinchport access.
Clinchport to Speer’s FerryMap
Distance: 2 miles
Gradient: 3.2 ft/mile
A good variety of habitats are encountered on this short float, and many species can be caught. Launch at the Clinchport ramp and tie on a small, deep-diving crankbait. The first section of this float will offer some good bass and sunfish water, while ledges in the last stretch will harbor walleye and sauger. Take out on the left side of the river at Speer’s Ferry. An informal access is located near the railroad bridge off of route 627.
Speer’s Ferry to State LineMap
Distance: 9 miles
Gradient: 2.5 ft/mile
This float will take anglers through some beautiful scenery on the way to the Virginia-Tennessee border. Most of this float is through slow moving water, so allow ample time to cover the distance between access points. The scattered shoals in this section are popular during the spring sucker shooting season. Be sure to notice the platforms placed high among the sycamores. Take out is on the left side of the river at the State Line access, off of route 627.
Jett Gap Ford
Holston River access point near Hiltons. This multiple day journey begins near the famous Carter Family Fold, then winds between farms and forests and under towering bluffs and swinging bridges. Despite the length of this section of the river, paddling is easy on flat water — you may opt to just drift with the river’s flow, relaxing under a brilliant sun.
From the junction of Rte 614 and Rte 58 in the middle of Hiltons, take Rte 614 north for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Rte 692 and drive for 0.9 miles until the road comes to a T. Turn left onto Rte 689 and drive for about half a mile to the Jett Gap Road access point.
Warm Springs Road Access Ramp
This access ramp provides the last take-out point on the Holston River in Virginia.
Heading south on Rte 23 through Weber City, turn right onto Yuma Road. (Yuma Road is about 0.6 miles north of the turnoff for Newland Hollow Road on Rte 23.) Drive about 1 mile, then turn left onto Warm Springs Road. The access point is in about 100 yards.
Weber City Bridge Access Ramp
The Weber City access ramp is the beginning of a short float down the Holston River.
Heading south on Rte 23 through Weber City, turn left onto Newland Hollow Road just after crossing the river on a bridge. The access point is on Newland Hollow Road near the highway bridge.