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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from Townsend, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains. At 5:18 am, the temperature is 42.4 degrees. It will warm slightly today and it will be overcast. Now, the National Weather Service is predicting the cold front to arrive tomorrow night, not earlier as expected. The low temperatures tonight will be slightly below freezing, then drop to the 20’s and teens early next week.

Little River is flowing at 232 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.95 feet on the flow gauge. Median flow for this date is 268 cfs. The water temperature is 42.6 degrees.

The water warmed some yesterday due to the warmer air and rain. Fishing in the Smoky Mountains will be better today, though the water is still cold, so don’t expect too much action. Nymphs will probably work best so start with them. I would use a dropper nymph too, using split shot to get both down deep. If you present your flies near a trout, they may take one. Concentrate on the deep slow runs and eddys.

It is possible you will find a blue wing olive or midge hatch. Watch the slower water in eddys and pools. Trout could be feeding on the surface. It’s a long shot but be aware of the possibility.

Though Little River is flowing higher, the water is still very clear. Wear subdued clothing to blend in so the trout don’t see you easily.

It may snow in the higher elevations tonight. 1 to 2 inches is predicted. You may find snow in the higher elevations now. At one point yesterday, the temperature was 36 degrees in the valley and it was raining. I can’t help but think it was snowing in the high elevations but I don’t know for sure.

Jack Gregory and Rex Wilson will be tying at the shop today from 10 am until 2 pm. I will be at home working on our online store so I’ll miss the show. This event is free. Just show up. These guys are expert fly tyers and fly fishermen. Jack lives here and Rex comes from Candler, North Carolina. You can read more about them by CLICKING HERE.

Jack is one of my closest friends. He is coming here after he ties. “We plan to shoot the you know what”.

I spoke on the phone yesterday with Walt Cary for about an hour. Walt is 89 years old. He lives in Virginia. He has been making poppers, and selling them to fishing stores and fly shops, for over 60 years. We used to buy his poppers directly from Walt, until he decided to cut back on his work. Now he makes bugs for about 3 stores. Now we buy Walt’s Poppers from a fly company, who pays Walt a royalty based on what they sell to stores.

If you are an avid Southeastern fly fisherman, who loves fishing with poppers, you have probably heard of or met Walt. 

We talked about his life as a professional popper maker. He is a very interesting man.

We also talked about Ernest “Peck” Peckinpaugh. He and his company manufactured poppers under the name Peck’s Lures in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I believe he operated during the 1930’s and 1940’s. He passed away in 1952, the year after I was born.

I have an article, written by Beau Beasley, called “50 Years of Popping Bugs”. Beau sent the article to me last year, and gave me permission to use it to write about Southern Poppers. The article is about an interview he had with his friend, Walt Cary.

Some day, I plan to gather all of this information, and write my own article about these people who pioneered popper fishing in the South. If I do it, you will be reading the article on this website.

Pierce Yates, from Birmingham, Alabama, owns BoogleBug. I believe he learned to make poppers from Bob Guess many years ago. I can’t remember the details this morning, but I think Bob Guess, who made and sold poppers in the Chattanooga area, was somehow connected to Peck’s Lures. We buy BoogleBug poppers to sell, from Pierce.

Gaines Poppers is another maker of poppers in America. We have sold Gaines poppers for many years.

I am writing this morning totally by memory, which is a dangerous thing these days.

Fishing with poppers is something I love to do. It takes me back to my childhood. I have bought and fly fished with poppers for over 50 years. In the early days, I probably used poppers made by Walt Cary, Gaines and Bob Guess. I still have some poppers made by Walt, dating back to when he made them for Little River Outfitters.

Bob Clouser showed me how to make poppers at least 15 years ago, using Wapsi Foam Cylinders. You can lean how that is done by CLICKING HERE. Today, I use my foam poppers and those made by BoogleBug. I honestly like the BoogleBug poppers better. They are heavier, and move more water. They are also very durable, though those foam poppers hold up very well too.

Popper fishing is something you should try. Maybe you have been fishing with poppers for decades. If you have, you understand my passion.

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

Byron Begley
January 16, 2016 

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