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Welcome to the Fishing Report from Townsend, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains. At 5:23 am, the temperature is 47.7 degrees. Today’s high temperature will be 50 degrees.
The warm “shirt sleeve” weather is over for a while. The days will be fairly warm through the weekend, with highs around 50 degrees. Lows at night will fall into the low 30’s and even drop into the low 20’s tomorrow night. We have a chance for snow showers on Super Bowl Sunday according to one weather website. The frozen precipitation, if it occurs, will change to rain later in the day.
Little River is flowing at 181 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.05 feet on the flow gauge. Median flow for this date is 342 cfs. The water temperature is 46.8 degrees this morning.
Fishing may be fair today. The water temperature is warmer than it has been in a few days. That won’t last too long. It will fall tonight and further tomorrow night. Tie on some nymphs and give it a try. Get them down. You might be surprised. I think fishing will be slower this weekend.
I talked to Jason, a good fisherman from Indiana yesterday while I was visiting the shop. I could tell he knows what he is doing. He and his buddy did fairly well on Abrams Creek but not on the East Prong of Little River. I think they have been fishing here for a couple of days. They also caught some stocked trout in town.
While at the shop I also talked to Rick, from Ontario. He was planning to fish on Abrams Creek for a while yesterday. I don’t know how well he did, but he made a good choice fishing that creek.
The water temperature at Abrams Creek, near the Falls Trailhead, is usually warmer during the cold months, than it is in the freestone streams. Large springs feed that portion of the creek, with warmer groundwater. During the hot months, you will find relatively cooler water there. Trout migrate to that section, seeking better water conditions.
It was on Abrams Creek, in that section that I was humbled once, about a humbled as a fisherman can be. Joe and I, and other Trout Unlimited volunteers, were to assist the Park Service fisheries crew, conducting fish population sampling on that section, from the trailhead bridge, to 200 meters downstream. Joe and I arrived early, to fish for a while before the sampling began. We both got skunked. I told Steve Moore, then the fisheries chief at the Park, that I did not expect us to capture many trout that day, based on the results Joe and I had. Steve laughed.
We placed nets across the stream, one at the trailhead, and other 200 meters downstream. We had 5 people using backpack electroshockers, and about twice that many using dip nets. Others carried 5 gallon buckets to take the fish we captured to an area to be counted, measured, weighed and held to be released later. The electroshocking temporarily stuns the fish, so they can be captured using the dip nets. We made three passes through the section. I think we caught most of the trout that were there.
Well, Steve reminded me later about my prediction. Walter Babb tells the story in most beginner fly fishing classes held at our school and has for years. By the end of the day, we had captured about 500 trout, the largest being a 29” brown. That was in the day, before brown trout disappeared from Abrams Creek. That day was at least 22 years ago, maybe longer.
People do not realize how many trout live in these streams. We did this sampling in October, and it had been hot. The water temperature in most Park streams was warm. Capturing 500 trout in 200 meters is not normal. I think the hot conditions, caused the trout to migrate to the cooler water in that area of the stream.
I learned, just because you don’t catch trout, does not mean they are not there.
I don’t know how many times this has happened, during the past 21 years since we have been in business. A fisherman comes in and complains about how bad the fishing is. A few minutes later, another angler tells us the fishing is great, and has photos to prove it.
Some anglers catch more trout in the Smokies because they have experience here, and they have figured it out. Maybe one angler encountered a huge hatch of aquatic insects and others did not. I see fishermen casting in slick pools and catching nothing, while others fish the broken water a catch trout hand over fist. Sometimes trout take nymphs, and ignore dry flies. Other times, it is the exact opposite. I’ve seen fishermen stand in one spot and cast over and over again, catching nothing. They should have moved.
A fly fisherman may have a bad day because they are wearing a white hat and a white shirt. The trout see that angler coming from a mile away. At the same time, another may wear muted clothing and practically crawl to a likely spot to fish, going unnoticed by the trout. Maybe you are fishing behind someone else. The fisherman in front of you, put the trout down temporarily.
And, there are those times, when there is no explanation. Only the trout know and they don’t talk to us. They may joke about us, to each other.
And then there is that day I had on Abrams Creek, fishing over 500 trout and getting skunked. What did I do wrong? Probably everything. I don’t know.
That was the last time I fished a stream section, before we did the population sampling there.
Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.
February 2, 2017
Respond to: Byron@littleriveroutfitters.com