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.  The temperature at 5:52 am is 15 degrees in Townsend.  Today’s high is predicted to be 39 with sunny skies.

Rain will move into our region tomorrow night.  In the higher elevations, we’ll most likely see snow.  We are in for a warming trend over the next few days.  We’re all looking forward to that.

Little River’s flow cannot be determined because the U.S. Geological Survey gauge is not working.  A pipe, that runs from the river bottom, to a building containing equipment that monitors river height and temperature, may be clogged with ice.  Or, there could be some other problem.  I’ve been in that building with Terry, who oversees our gauge station.  That little building is located just inside the Park at the Townsend entrance and I can tell you, it is a very interesting place to visit.

The site is transmitting data via satellite.  We are seeing the water temperature.  This problem should correct soon.  I will send an e-mail to our USGS office in Knoxville this morning, making Terry aware of the problem.  The water temperature is .8 degrees C or 33.44 F.

The flow is probably somewhere near the reading yesterday of 319 cubic feet per second (cfs) or a little lower.

Needless to say, fishing will be slow in the Smokies today.  Trout will not be very active due to the cold water.

I tied flies until 9 pm last night.  They are not for me to use.  I don’t need any flies. Paula and I have more flies than we will ever use. These are Knuckleheads to sell in the shop.  Our original plan was to have the black and chartreuse flies tied in Shri Lanka by professionals in a factory.  I planned to tie the yellow flies.  Since this is a fly I came up with in 2011 for bass and bluegill fishing, I guess I feel funny about having someone else tie them.  I move slow and pay close attention to detail, particularly durability. 

So, to get us selling and continue for a while, I’m planning to tie 60 dozen by Spring.  During the past week, as of this morning, I’ve tied 10 dozen.  These flies are not only popular here for smallmouth bass, we have a lot of mail order customers in the south, who buy them to use for largemouth bass and big bluegill.  Feedback from customers and guides has been excellent and very exciting to me. This project is fun for me.  I can tie while watching TV or like last night, listening to music.  Coming up with this design took several months of failure. 

A formal groundbreaking for the new Dancing Bear Lodge was held yesterday and well attended.  I was invited but didn’t go.  The original lodge burned in 2013.  This is great news for our town.  The new owners have a plan, to be done in phases.  First, will be the restaurant.  The new owners will expand the current meeting building that was not harmed in the fire.  That will be the restaurant.  They will also build additional cabins. 

Phase II will be the re-building of the main lodge building.  The first phase should be completed this summer according to people I’ve talked to.

We knew something was up last year.  Our town was busy with visitors, more than we’ve seen in a while.  We didn’t have the numbers corroborate that, but now we do.  Business owners told me all year, “business is pretty good”. 

In a news release made public yesterday by the National Park Service, it was reported that over 10 million people visited Great Smoky Mountians National Park in 2014.  The actual number was 10,099,275.  That was the fourth time in 80 years, and the first time since 2000 that happened.  October had the highest visitation in 27 years.

Front country camping was up 13.7% over 2013.  Backcountry camping was up 11.3%.

I don’t think there is any doubt, that lower fuel prices had a lot to do with this.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited of all Park Service units.  Planning is underway for the 100th anniversary of the forming of the National Park Service in 2016.

Come by the shop today and meet Michael Rocky Cox.  Rocky is a professional guide, specializing in drift boat fishing trips on our area tailwaters.  Rocky has been a friend of ours for a long time and has always been willing to help us when we ask.  He is a great guy and knows his fly fishing. 

Rocky did something I always wanted to do.  He earned his United States Coast Guard Captain’s License.  That is a big deal and requires intensive study and testing.  I wanted to do it to learn navigation.  I don’t plan to drive a motor boat for hire.  I just want to go through the process.  There are schools located all over the country and most take about a week to complete.  It also requires a huge amount of motorboat experience.  I’ve got that.  I’ve been driving motor boats since I was 7 years old.  I was nagivating through river locks much of my life on the Kentucky River, starting at a very young age before I was able to drive a car, legally.   

Rocky will be tying flies and talking about his fishing experiences on our rivers.  This event is free.  Just come by the shop and pull up a chair.

What else would you do today?

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

Byron Begley
January 10, 2015

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