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 is raining lightly right now and the temperature is 39 degrees. 

Little River is a raging torrent.  It is out of the banks.  We are not experiencing a flood yet.  The water is very high.  Flow is currently 3,810 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 6.12 feet on the flow gauge.  This is a record for February 3rd based on 49 years of data.  The previous record of 2,660 was set in 1982.  We will get more rain today, tomorrow and Wednesday.  We had 2 1/4” of rain in our gauge this morning.

The water has warmed.  Right now, the water temperature is 42.2 degrees.  Yesterday morning at this time it was 34 degrees.

Fly fishing in the Smoky Mountains is pretty much out of the question right now.  Little River and possibly most rivers and streams are blown out.  With more rain to come, I doubt if we’ll be fishing here for a few days.

Now, I’m worrying about the brook and brown trout spawn, which occurred last Fall.  A big rain event can wipe out redds and hatched trout.  We can pretty much lose a whole age class of fish when that happens.  Floods and droughts affect the trout population more than any other factor.  Fishermen play a minor role in fish populations in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The data proves it.

When a spawn is not successful, we don’t notice it that much.  We notice larger trout because there are less mouths to feed compared to a year when the spawn is very successful.  We don’t notice less trout.  We perceive fishing to be better when the numbers are down.  We don’t catch many 3” to 4” trout but most anglers do not keep track of those.   

I was noticing yesterday how much better our business is in February than it is in January even though there are less days.  I think, more people are fly fishing in February, here and in other locations in the Southeast.  People are tired of staying home so they venture out.  The air temperatures can be warmer than they are in January.

Another reason is, we do have some decent to excellent dry fly fishing in February. Though the fishing really cranks up here when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees, those aquatic insects that are normally associated with Spring do hatch in February.  They hatch even when the water is colder than 50 degrees.

I read all of last February’s Fishing Reports yesterday.  I wanted to do some forecasting so we know when to release our Spring orders for shipment.  I could not find a day, all month last year when the water temperature reached 50 degrees at the confluence of the three prongs of Little River.  Those temperatures varied from 35.5 to 46.5 degrees.

We still had some decent hatches.  The first report that included hatches of Quill Gordons was on February 17th.  From that point on through the end of February I mentioned sporadic hatches of Blue Wing Olives, Quill Gordons and Blue Quills.  I got that information from the guides.  I think it was February of 2012 that we had large hatches during February.  I’ll read those reports today and let you know. 

Actually, February 2014 is starting out warmer than last February. In fact, today, February 3rd was awful last year.  The Park roads were closed due to snow.  The morning low on February 2nd was 21 degrees.  It was 34 degrees yesterday morning and 39 degrees this morning.  Last year, it started warming up around February 6th.  So, we’ll see what happens.

Keep an eye on the weather and water temperature.  Last year the bugs were hatching when the water started the day around 40 degrees.  Fishermen were out there catching trout on dry flies.

Today I am ordering fly tying materials again.  To keep everything stocked, I really have to order about every week.  Orders come in, we get them out then it’s time to re-order.  Bad weather out west and in Arkansas delayed our orders placed in late January, which really messed things up at the worst time.  We still don’t have a Whiting Farms order that was placed in January.  CCT Body Fur that was ordered in January has not arrived.  The fly tying business is good around the United States this year, maybe too good.

Did anyone but me notice Joe Namath’s fur coat last night?  I read one quote this morning that said, “It looked better on Lassie”.  Did you notice that the Seahawks have a great defense?  Did you notice how well the National Anthem was sung?  If you saw the halftime show, did you notice how talented Bruno Mars is?  I had enough of the game at 10 pm and went to bed. 

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

Byron Begley
February 3, 2014

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