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 Mountians.  It is overcast and 48 degrees in Townsend right now.  The temperature will drop today to around 29 degrees by late afternoon.  We have a 40% chance for snow today.

Little River’s water level continues to drop.  Currently, flow is 254 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.99 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 318 cfs.  The water temperature this morning is 35.2 degrees.

I would not expect good fishing today.  The water is cold and it is going to get colder over the next couple of days.  Temperatures are expected to drop into the teens tonight and single digits tomorrow night.  Later this week, we should see a warming trend.  Expect highs in the 50’s this weekend and lows in the 30’s.  It might rain too.

If you do go fishing today, weight some nymphs and get them down.  The trout will be sluggish but they might take your offering if you get your fly in front of their nose. 

We are all wondering when the Spring fly fishing will begin in the mountains.  I’m looking out at Smokies right now wondering the same thing.

The outlook for early February appears to be normal through the 5th.  After that, we don’t know.  In years past, the fishing has been really good in late February.  If the water warms to 50 degrees and that temperature is sustained for a few days, activity begins.  Quill Gordons and Blue Quills hatch.  Trout become active too. 

Other years, the action begins in March.  Sometimes it can be late March.  It all depends on the water temperature.

As fly shop operators, we watch the weather.  When we see a warm front moving in, we contact our manufacturers and have our Spring merchandise shipped.  We don’t want it here too early.  Those invoices may become due when fishing is slow.  We avoid that like the plague.  It’s called cash management. 

On the other hand, we want the merchandise here and on the floor when the fishing picks up. 

These days, anglers find out quickly if fishing is good or slow.  That is just one of many ways the internet has changed our lives.  We get information in real time.  Before I moved to Townsend 22 years ago, getting the stream flows and water temperature were next to impossible.  We didn’t have the internet and we didn’t have fishing reports like this one to read.  Getting that current information to you is exactly why I sit here early in the morning, every day and do what I do.

I mentioned this yesterday, but we don’t have many readers on Sunday so here is the news again.  Lynn Camp Prong will not open to fishing this year.  High water last Spring all but wiped out the newly hatched brook trout fry and redds.  The population did not grow much.  Biologists want a good sustained population before they let fishermen in.

Lynn Camp Prong will be an awesome brook trout fishery.  This stream and it’s tributaries are considered mid-elevation and access is very good.  During good years, when Lynn Camp Prong had rainbow trout populations, sampling indicated densities of up to 2,500 trout per mile.  I think the total length of the fishery, including tributaries is about 9 miles.  A wide, easy grade trail follows the stream.  I think Lynn Camp will be the gem of the Smokies. 

When the Park Service mentioned this stream as a possible brook trout restoration project and the fact that my favorite trout stream would be closed for years was disturbing to me.  At the time we were talking about closing it for 7 years.  I can’t remember right now how long it has been closed.  I do know, time is passing by quickly and we may be near the time that it can be opened again.  Maybe it will be next year.  Everything depends on the weather.  A year without a flood or drought could make all the difference in the world.  I hope this is that year. 

Of course, we have so many fishing opportunities around here, one nine mile stream doesn’t make or break a year for us. 

Charlie from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was in the shop yesterday buying some waders for work.  He has a new assignment.  He will be doing creel surveys on the Little Tennessee River starting at Calderwood Dam and downstream below Chilhowee Dam.  That’s where I do most of my fishing.  This is great news.

We all know this is a tough place to fish.  Due to the lack of nutrients, shad and other forage populations are lacking in density.  As a result of that, game fish populations are also lacking in density.  Anglers get skunked a few times and never return.  I get skunked and keep going back.

Upper Tellico Lake is sampled by the agency and they know, the fish are only there in low numbers.  I know that but I don’t care.  Anglers are also there in very low numbers. Sometimes Paula and I fish all day and just see a few other boats, sometimes only one or two.

Navigation gets a little tense as well.  When Tellico Lake was built, the trees were not removed in the upper Little Tennessee River section as well as other areas in the lake.  Additionally, there are some big rocks out there that can scare the heck out of you when you drive over them in your boat.  The water is cold and clear.  Sometimes I can see the bottom in 14 feet of water.  The smallmouth bass can see you too. 

I’m still looking forward to seeing Charlie’s data. He will be in a center console boat wrapped in TWRA logos or at the launch ramps asking anglers questions. 

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

Byron Begley
January 27, 2014

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