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.  At 5:55 am it is 36 degrees outside, not what was expected.  It still may snow this morning, but it won’t stick to the roads in the valley.  It’s too warm.  The high temperature today is predicted to be 33 degrees.  It’s warmer than that now.

Little River is flowing on the high side at 537 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.48 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 366 cfs.  The water temprature is 40.6 degrees.

This is going to be a nice weekend with high temperatures in the high 50’s.  Lows will be in the 40’s except for Friday night.  We’ll dip into the upper 20’s then.  There is a slight chance for rain Sunday.

Fishing won’t be great this weekend probably not even good.  The water will still be chilly.  But, it will be warmer outdoors and sunny Saturday.  Take advantage of that and go, whether you catch fish or not. You may catch a trout or two by using nymphs.  Who knows, you might catch more.  Or, you could get skunked.  It doesn’t matter as long as you are enjoying your time in the forest and on a stream. At this time of year, we should be thankful for that opportunity.

Weather conditions over the next ten days look to be about normal for February according to the National Weather Service. 

Every day is getting longer.  A break in the weather, and Spring fishing is getting close.  We are all anticipating that moment. On March 8th, daylight savings time begins.  That will give us more time on the water after work.  Last year, on March 8th, fishing was good in the Smokies.  The water temperature started the day at 44 degrees.  That number reached 47.5 degrees the day before.  Hatches of quill gordons and blue quills were sporadic but happening.  Trout were taking dry flies. The high temperature that day was predicted to be 66 degrees.

That is what we are waiting for.  It could happen in two weeks or maybe four weeks.  Fishing is a game of anticipation.  And that’s what we are doing.

Our new Park Superintendent, Cassius Cash, will clock in Monday, his first day on the job.  Since Dale Ditmanson retired, we have had two interim superintendents.  Cassius will be permanent.  You can read the Park Service news release by CLICKING HERE

Townsend/Walland Business Alliance and the City of Townsend will hold an open house on Thursday February 19th for everyone here to meet him.  It will be held at the Barn Event Center.

This is a big step up for Cassius.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in America.  Last year, we had over 10 million visitors.  I think Dale Ditmanson told me once there were around 400 people working for him in the Park.

Managing a park like this one has many challenges, partly due to the number of visitors.  There are roads and buildings to maintain, campgrounds to manage, law enforcement, rescues, accidents, people getting lost, budgets to meet, air quality issues, heck, the list goes on and on.  The new section of the Foothills Parkway is still under construction.  It will probably open while Cassius is superintendent.

But here, there is something different.  Here, we have biodiversity like you don’t find anywhere in the world.  Here, we have fish, plants, animals, insects, and salamanders, that are unique only to this area.  Scientists discover new formerly unknown species or sub-species fairly often.  Very high on the mission list of the National Park Service to protect and preserve these species for future generations.  That, in itself, is a huge responsibility.  This park is a large outdoor laboratory for scientists.

The Park has scientists on staff.  Some are friends of ours.  This business of protecting species is serious business.  Other than providing safety for visitors, protecting species is “priority one.”  Cassius has a college degree in biology, a background in science. 

The first Smokies Superintendent I got to know was Randy Pope.  We met in 1992.  I was organizing a Trout Unlimited Chapter to work with this Park that he was in charge of.  Randy was the kind of guy who was not afraid to include outside organizations.  I attended what they called “User Group Meetings” back then.  I doubt if they call us that now.  They probably refer to us as funding groups.  Our Trout Unlimited Chapter had not been formed.  He knew we were coming.  He saw opportunities.  He was right.  Also, during his tenure, Friends of the Smokies was formed.

At that time, I also met and became friends with Steve Moore.  Steve retired last year.  He was our head fisheries biologist.  Steve was also open to working with outside groups, which was new to him and probably Randy too.  Steve opened the door for Trout Unlimited to work with this Park and encouraged Randy to do the same. 

I’ve known every permanent superintendent in the Smokies since I met Randy. I think back to those days and wonder how different our Park would be if he had not been willing to include non-government partners.  Had this not happened, the Park would have missed out on millions of dollars in funding and volunteer labor. 

Would it have happened eventually?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  We won’t know.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is…he did.

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

Byron Begley
February 5, 2015

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