Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  They say the high temperature today will be 25 degrees and it will drop to 20 degrees by 5 pm.  And, we have a chance for snow flurries.  This is not a good day to go fishing.

Little River is flowing at 470 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.55 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 291 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:30 am is 40.8 degrees.

Jack was at our house last night.  He said he caught a 24” brown trout in Little River Sunday and had a larger one break him off.  He was fishing with Ron and Joe.  Jack loves fishing during the winter for big browns and he catches way more than his share.  He’s also the best fisherman I know.

Most people will find fishing to be slow in the Smokies.  The water temperature will continue to drop.  Tonight’s low temperature will be around 8 degrees in the valley and below zero in the high elevations.  The high temperature tomorrow is predicted to be 30 degrees down here and 22 at Newfound Gap.  This is not fishing weather.

I’m off today.  Daniel and Dan will be working at the store.  I doubt if we will have many customers today.  Those who visit will probably be shopping for fly tying materials.  This is perfect fly tying weather.

Jack and I talked about stocking brown trout in the creek that runs behind our house.  It is a spring creek.  The water gurgles out of the ground from two huge springs and runs for a couple of miles before entering Little River at the Back Porch Restaurant.

Years ago, the Little River Watershed Association set up several water quality monitoring sites on Little River and it’s tributaries.  One of those sites was on our property.  What they found at this site was a lack of nutrients.  The water is practically sterile.  Because of that, there is not much aquatic life at all.  There is very little for insects or fish to eat.  A few small rainbows have always lived in the creek.  They must spawn there too.  My theory is, when they become adults, the fish have to move downstream to survive.

At one time there were some huge rainbows living in the creek.  I created an artificial fishery.  Frank and I used two deer feeders, with a chute he made to feed the trout.  Twice a day, those feeders would dump trout food into the water.  Since the water temperature remains about 57 degrees year round, the trout grew fast.  We caught one that measured 22 inches.

People found out the fish were there.  You couldn’t miss them.  If you looked at the water, there they were.  To avoid confrontations with people who were catching the trout for food, I stopped feeding and the stream reverted back to its original and natural state.

If we stock browns, I’ll need to walk to the creek and feed them every day.  Jack thinks the browns will stay hidden.  Without feeders hanging over the water, maybe people won’t notice.  Maybe the browns will be smart enough not to fall for a hook baited with worms or corn.  It will be fun to try and we may do it.  If it draws people in, I’ll probably give up again.

You can order trout or about any species of fish from a hatchery in Pennsylvania called Zetts.  I think Zetts is the oldest privately owned hatchery in America.  I remember seeing their ads in Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream magazines when I was a kid.  I ordered brook trout from them once.  After placing the order, I sent a check.  When the trout were ready to ship, they called me at the shop.  The person I talked to said the trout would arrive at the Knoxville Airport in two hours.  I drove to the airport and picked them up.

I had to get permission from TWRA and the Park Service to do the stocking. The folks at TWRA said it would be fine with them.  But, since Little River flows out of the Park, they told me to talk to the park fisheries guys.  They gave approval and the plan moved forward.

The trout were packed in Styrofoam coolers in plastic bags filled with oxygen.  A cold pack is also placed in the box with the cooler.  I think I got 200 fingerling brookies and they arrived alive, all of them.  Walter Babb and I released them in the creek.  It was shortly after that, I decided to abandon the idea of having a trout stream in my back yard. 

I have friends, who own fly shops, and have private water for paying customers.  It’s a big business.  The problem is, if you own one of these streams, you have to be willing to prosecute trespassers.  And, those trespassers may be your neighbors.  I don’t need that in my life. There are wild trout streams on public land just a few minutes from here. 

Anyway, it’s fun to think about and talk about with Jack.  That’s probably about as far as it will go.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
January 7, 2015

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com


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