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 5:50 am, the temperature is 35.8 degrees. I walked out on the front porch this morning. The moon is lighting the landscape, though it is not near full phase. The stars are brilliant in the sky. It is a beautiful morning.

Today will be spring-like, with sunny skies and a high temperature of near 70 degrees.

Little River is flowing at 350 cufic feet per second (cfs) or 2.18 feet on the flow gauge. Median flow for this date is 282 cfs. The water temperature is 43.3 degrees this morning.

Though yesterday’s high temperature was 65 degrees, snowmelt in the mountains held the water temperature at the current temperature or below all day yesterday. The water temperature is steady at the highest reading, so it may warm further today. How much? I have no idea.

When the water temperature reaches near 50 degrees, fishing will certainly improve. I hope that happens today. I’ve been out of town for three days. When I saw the temperature readings since I’ve been gone, I was surprised. There was more snow in the mountains than I thought. We were expecting much warmer water by yesterday. It didn’t happen. It will continue to be warm through Wednesday, with a good chance for rain.

If you go today, wait until later and hopefully we will see warmer water in the lower elevations.

Today will be a beautiful day to fish. You should go. Fishing may be good or not so good. If you go, you will be fishing.

Start with nymphs. Get them down. Check the water temperature. Maybe the water will be warming. It should. It did yesterday, just not enough.

Watch for surface activity. You may see blue wing olives or midges. Trout may be feeding on them. If they are, switch to a dry fly. The bugs you may see will be small.

We are going to see some very warm air in our area, over the next few days. We will get some rain too. Right now the odds are at 100% on Wednesday. Maybe we will finally have some good fishing conditions. Hopefully, we’ll see that today.

The long term forecast offers some hope through the middle of February. The hope is, we won’t get snow or really cold temperatures. My hope is, we’ll see Spring fishing conditions in February.

I stayed with some very close friends in a cabin, at Lake Cumberland State Park, beginning Thursday night. We have been friends for over 50 years, one of them, dating back to almost 60 years. We recounted many funny stories, over the three days we were together. I haven’t laughed that much, since the last time I saw them. We are all almost 65 years old. We vowed to spend more time together, and planned more trips, especially fly fishing trips, in the future.

Brad joined us one day. He worked on the team that built Hatchery Creek. This is a 1-mile long, totally man-made wild trout stream. The job is almost finished except for more planting of trees and native grasses.

The new section of Hatchery Creek is not open to the public. It will open to anglers April 29th. The first 400 feet below the hatchery is open to fishing. Yesterday, we saw many fishermen, mostly using bait, catching trout in that section. Signs are posted, warning people not to enter the new section of the creek. Those signs are everywhere. You can’t miss them.

We watched as one lady ignored the signs and walked down to the new area to fish. Within a few minutes, a wildlife officer walked out of the woods and confronted her. He appeared to be writing her a ticket. After he left, she packed up her gear and did the same thing.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is serious about keeping people out of that one-mile stretch. Brown trout have spawned. They moved up into the new stream from the Cumberland River. The banks have been sewn with grasses. The delay in opening will give those grasses time to grow and protect the banks.

Hatchery Creek, below the first 400 feet, will not be stocked with trout. The population will either be fish that have moved into the creek from the river, or trout that have hatched in the stream. Fishing regulations will be “catch and release” and “artificial only”.

I can’t wait to see this stream in April. We can’t wait to fish there. It won’t be long.

While we were there, salvage and recovery teams arrived. The heavy snow and ice caused unbelievable damage to the State Dock marina at Lake Cumberland State Park. Roofs on the covered slips at the dock collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow. We heard some huge houseboats sank. It looked like a mess, and we stayed away. There was still plenty of snow on the ground. We originally planned this trip the weekend before, but had to change our plans because of the expected snow and ice. If we had gone a week earlier, we would have been stranded there for a few days.

I’m going to spend the day working on our new online store. I have been off for three wonderful days, and it is good to be back at work.

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

Byron Begley
January 31, 2016

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