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.  It’s chilly this morning, 30 degrees.  Today will be nice, sunny and 53 degrees according to the NWS.  Yesterday was a beautiful day too.  The days are getting longer.  I seems the longer days are really obvious now, not just a minute or two, or three each day.  It’s starting to add up.  We feel better knowing Spring is coming and longer days remind us of what is to come.  I like it.

Little River is flowing at 173 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.80 on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 295 cfs.  The water temperature this morning is 40.46 degrees. Yesterday, the temperature topped out at 43.7 degrees.  That warmer, but not warm enough.

It is going to be colder over the next few days through Monday.  We have a very good chance for rain during the days and possibly snow at night. Expect cold temperatures next week too with a low in the teens Tuesday.

Most people will find fishing to be slow in the Smokies due to the cold water.  The best advice most seasoned anglers will give is to use nymphs and get them down.  We will tell you the same thing at the shop. 

It does not appear, we will have warm water in January this year like we did in 2012.  During that year, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons were seen on the water.  Fishing picked up in February.  What we need is the water temperature to rise near 50 degrees.  That probably won’t happen this month.  Maybe next month.

It did feel like Spring these past two days.  I spent every day, all day, painting the interior of the boat house we just built.  It’s done.

A large flock of wild turkeys moved into the woods around our house yesterday.  I was in the boat house painting and could hear them clucking.  I stepped out, and there they were.  These birds are used to seeing me.  Several were within 50 feet of me and didn’t walk off.  I saw maybe 20 at one time but could hear others.  The flock usually varies in size between 28 and about 50. 

At one point yesterday, a helicopter flew over our house.  It was the U.T. Medical Center’s Lifestar chopper.  We had two accidents near town, one man fell off a roof and another cut his leg with a chainsaw.  They were both evacuated, by the helicopter, at different times.  UT Medical Center handles a lot of our critical trauma emergencies.  It’s a long drive in an ambulance from here.  The helicopter cuts that time down to a fraction of what an ambulance on wheels can accomplish.   

Today and tomorrow, I’ll be working with Clayton Gist and Dick Geiger, photographing, writing, and putting together a new full color fly tying class book for the Clinch River Chapter of TU.  They will use the book in a new class.

That is hard work.  Clayton will be tying each step.  Dick will photograph each step.  I will be putting all the images and text into desktop publishing software.  We’ve done it before.  It is similar to an assembly line task, all three of us will be doing our job, until it’s done, sometime tomorrow.

Yesterday I wrote about my favorite trout stream in the Smokies.  It is Lynn Camp Prong.  We all have our favorites for many reasons.  I like Little River and it’s tributaries, mainly because they are close to home and I have fond memories fishing those streams.  But, there are others, more remote and further from here, that I love too.

One is the Cataloochee Valley.  Years ago, Paula and I visited and camped at Cataloochee fairly often.  We usually drove in the long way, the 17 mile gravel road.  Onee there, the sprawling Cataloochee Valley welcomes you.  Back in the day, there was hardly anyone there during the week when we fished and camped.  Several wonderful streams feed Cataloochee Creek and are easily accessed from the valley.  To me, it looks like a smaller Cades Cove.

Fishing was almost always good, especially in the tributaries.  We like Palmer Creek.  But there are others.  Caldwell comes to mind.  The main river, between the metal bridges is beautiful.  Sometimes we found the fishing to be very good.  Other times, it was slow.  I always did better below the lower bridge.  My favorite area is Asbury Crossing on the main river. 

Back then, we just showed up at the small campground, and hoped it wasn’t full.  It don’t think it ever was.  Now, you can make a reservation.  Many of the campers we met were local descendents of the families who lived in Cataloochee Valley. It was like living here, where many of our friends are descendents of the families who inhabited Cades Cove.  I like hearing the stores that have been handed down for generations.

I can’t remember exactly when, during the past few years.  Elk were stocked in Cataloochee.  Now, more people visit this wonderful place to see and photograph the animals.  They say it’s not the same.  I guess it’s that reason, we have not returned in years.  Still, we can remember the way it used to be.  Maybe you should plan to go.  If you have not been, you should. Maybe we will return.

I rank Cataloochee in the top five places I’ve spent time in the Smokies.  Hazel Creek is another.  It’s hard to beat Forney Creek.  Little River above Elkmont is probably #2.  It’s hard to find a better place than Smokemont. 

Soon, we’ll all be visiting these wonderful spots again and I can’t wait.  Lynn Camp Prong is not open.  I checked the news releases again this morning.  We may find out when that date will be tonight. 

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

Byron Begley
January 22, 2015

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