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 my day off this week.  It is not starting out good.  The temperature outside is 18 degrees.  I can’t wait to get outside and start working in those conditions.

Yesterday was beautiful.  The mountains were white as snow.  I’m sure they still are.  Many of the roads in the Park are closed due to ice and snow.  Newfound Gap Road is one.  The Gatlinburg Bypass is another.  Little River Road from the Townsend “Y” to Sugarlands Visitors Center is closed. Laurel Creek Road from Tremont to Cades Cove is open though it was closed yesterday morning.

I drove to Townsend yesterday afternoon.  Our roads were fine in the valley.  What I saw was almost no traffic in town. 

It is going to warm some this week during the day but the nights will be cold, in the 20’s to low 30’s. 

Little River looks great.  I saw our namesake a couple of times yesterday.  Flow this morning is 240 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.01 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 302 cfs.  Flow this time of year is normally high.  The water temperature at 6:45 am is 37.04 degrees.

37 degree water does not bode well for trout fishing.  Those fish will be hunkered down and inactive.  Driving in the Park is probably not a good idea.  Melting snow, then re-freezing to ice must be making for some tricky driving conditions.  You can tell by reading the “Closed Road” list. 

Everyone I talk to is tired of winter.  We long for Spring.  I think the Farmers Almanac predicted an early Spring in the South.  I hope so.  Another spring like 2011 would be welcome.  “Fishing” Spring came in February in that year.  Quill Gordons and Blue Quills were popping out of the water.  Trout were gorging on them.  We were scratching our heads, hurrying our Spring fly orders, taking care of customers and sending them on their way to excellent fishing.

On February 13th, the high temperature reached 59 degrees.  The next day high was 55.  We saw a high of 61 degrees on the 14th.  February 17th was the warmest day of the month at 71 degrees.  That trend continued. 

It was warm at night too.  The low on February 17th was 58 degrees.

That was an early Spring for you.  I’m hoping we are two weeks away from that.  I’m hoping that is what the Farmers Almanac was talking about.  We called it, “Anglers Spring”. 

I have met and communicate with many friends through this fishing report and e-mail. Many of us become friends face to face too. I heard from several this week, telling me about their weather conditions.  Maybe they were trying to make me feel better.  Fred from Sandusky, Ohio reported -3 degrees.  I think Mark in Michigan City said it was 10 degrees there.  It worked. I feel better.

Then there is Jim in Tallahassee.  His new kayak and kayak trailer will be delivered Friday.  He and I have been talking about this for months.  I’m almost as excited for him, as he is.

Both are identical to what Paula and I have except his kayak is a newer model, with much better features.  I warned Jim about the trailer assembly.  They say it takes 3 to 4 hours.  It took Paula and I all day to assemble ours.  We were on our hands and knees all day and I could barely get out of bed the next day.  Jim plans to use his around St. Vincent Island, one of our favorite places to fish.

He made me feel better too, to a point.  What is killing me is, he will probably be using his new kayak Saturday.  I’m jealous. The high temperature there is supposed to be 63 degrees.  Maybe he will wait until Sunday.  The high will be 67 and the low 58. I really am excited for you Jim, but also envious.

The Panhandle and Big Bend area of Florida have been fishing destinations for Paula and I over the past 15 or 20 years.  Some years, we drove down there three times.  My buddies and I go there too.  We’ve cast our flies from Crystal River all the way north and west to St Joe.  That area is truly, “old Florida”.  Where we go, there is an obvious lack of development.  When we go, there are not many people. 

Cedar Key (Pop 702)  is a community, not a city.  People there drive around town in golf carts.  Suwannee, Florida is smaller than Cedar Key.  Wikipedia calls it a fishing town.  They don’t state the population.  Maybe nobody knows.  We love that place too.  Eat at Salt Creek. 

There is no telling how much time we’ve spent in Panacea, Florida.  That is where we usually fish for tarpon and eat at Angelos.  Lanark is close by.  That’s a cool place. The little marina there is reminiscent of Florida in the 1950’s or 60’s.

Further west is Apalachicola. That’s a big town by our standards.  The population is 2,231 people.  Apalachicola is a beautiful, quaint town.  Park your truck and walk.

We don’t go further west than St. Joe Bay. To the west of St. Joe, you begin to see development and people. Condos rise out of the sand.  We prefer the small towns, similar to Townsend.  We feel at home in those places and the fishing is good.  The people are friendly because they are happy.

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

Byron Begley
January 28, 2015

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com


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