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.  The full moon is lighting the sky this morning.  It looked like daybreak at 5:30 am.  One weather station states the current temperature is 39 degrees.  Another says 46 degrees.  The thermometer on our front porch is reading 54 degrees.  I think ours is more accurate because it is really located here.  It is fairly windy.  Maybe the front is moving into Townsend bringing warmer air than reported by weather websites.  It’s warm out there.

Little River is flowing at 370 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.14 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 304 cfs.  The water temperature is 39.9 degrees.

This is going to be a very warm day.  Expect high temperatures in the low to mid 60’s.  It may be windy at times.  Rain will move in tonight.

You might catch some trout today.  The water will warm further, maybe to the mid 40’s.  That can mobilize the trout.  They could become active.  Go prepared with nymphs but don’t rule out a dry fly.  I’m not saying fishing will be good.  It will certainly be better.

This will be a beautiful day and cloud cover is expected later.  This is probably the best fishing day we’ve had in a while.  Do expect some wind.  I can hear it right now.

Townsend was active yesterday.  Cars and trucks were buzzing around, most of them, heading into the park.  We had a good amount of customer traffic in the shop.  It will probably be that way again today.  People are getting out.

Over the next 10 days we will have to endure colder temperatures.  We will have lows in the 20’s at times.  Spring fishing is not here, not yet.  This weekend is just a brief reminder of what that would be like.

Alex Quick and Mike Adams tied at the shop yesterday.  What I saw, right away, were some excellent fly patterns that work well in the Smokies.

Alex had some flies, that resembled Neversink Caddis but they had small rubber legs.  Those flies were tied perfectly.  They were awesome.  I know they will produce well.  The Neversink is one of, if not the best selling dry fly in our shop.  Trout think it is a Yellow Sally Stonefly.  Alex’s version looked better. Our other best selling dry fly is a Parachute Adams.

Mike was tying his Mike’s Magic Beetle at first.  This is a foam beetle that has a glass bead showing below on the fly’s belly.  We sell that fly.  Mike has them tied by Holly Flies.  We buy them from Holly.  We know that is a killer fly pattern in the Smokies during the Summer months. 

Both of these guys are unbelievable fly tyers.  You should have been here yesterday.  We hear that a lot when fishing, don’t we?  If you were not there, you should have been.  You would have witnessed two experts.

Bill Boyd Jr. and Bill Boyd Sr. will be tying next Saturday.  They are innovators. They invent new ways to tie flies.  They are fun to be around. 

Walter Babb will be tying the Saturday after that.  Watching Walter tie trout flies, and listening to his vast knowledge about these fly patterns is something you don’t want to miss.

Then, Saturday February 28th, Mike Bone will be tying.  Mike is a professional guide, concentrating mostly on the Clinch and Holston Rivers for trout.  Mike has been guiding here longer than anyone I know.  He is an expert.

We don’t have anyone scheduled for our free tying demos after Mike.  We think, fishing will be so good then, you won’t want to sit around a fly shop on Saturday.  You will be fishing.  I hope we are right.  Maybe, Spring fishing will begin before Mike ties.  It won’t happen next week.  But maybe, the week after that.

When the water temperature hits 50 degrees or better, all heck breaks loose.  If the water temperature bottoms out in the mid-40’s at night, then rises to 50 or higher during the day, the result is the same.  Fishing gets good.  We used to think that the water temperature had to stay at 50 degrees for fishing to turn on in the Spring.  That was before we kept good records.  These fishing reports, going back for years, in the archive below, dispute that notion.  The trout become active when the water is cooler than we thought at one time.

The hatches may be sporadic, and the trout activity may be the same.  In the afternoons, even when the water dips into the 40’s at night, fishing can be good. 

Fishing is better when the water bottoms out at 50 and rises to the high 50’s during the day.  When that happens, fishing for trout in the Smokies is excellent.  Good fishing precedes excellent fishing in the Spring.  Right now, I’ll take good.

Hatches of aquatic insects are better, in years when we don’t have floods early.  Floods wipe out some of the nymphs living in the streams, reducing their numbers.  That also happens to young of the year trout.  Floods, during or after the spawn can greatly reduce the number of trout living in a stream or particular section of a stream.  In those years, the average size the trout are larger.  We don’t catch as many small trout.

Results from work done by Park Service fisheries biologists in 2013, found few young of the year brook trout in Lynn Camp Prong.  High water at the wrong time reduced the population.  However, in 2014, biologists checking the same sampling sites, found large numbers of young of the year trout in the stream.  Now, the biologists have decided to open Lynn Camp Prong to fishing, based on what they saw in 2014.  The numbers were very good.

Fly shops, as a business, prosper or nearly fail based on weather and the resulting water levels.  Guides are faced with the same problem.  Generation schedules at dams can cause our businesses to prosper or nearly fail.  If you don’t have plenty of cash, a bad Spring can ruin you.  We are used to it.  During the past 20 years we have been in business, we have had good times and bad times, all depending on the weather. 

In our case, we built a business, slowly over the years, based somewhat on mail order.  Many of our mail order customers live and fish in the Southeast United States.  Bad weather, that affects fishing participation, can be regional, not just local.  High water in Georgia or Alabama, can harm our business.  Good weather conditions in Mississippi, can help our business.

The fly fishing business in our region suffered during the time Wolf Creek Dam was being repaired.  I think that took 6 years.  Now, the river is normal again.  Fishing in the tailwater is good again.  We should expect benefits from that change in our region. 

Too much rain, or too little rain can cause harm to us.  Hot temperatures or cold temperatures can do the same thing to us.  That is the only thing I can think of right now that I don’t like about this business.  It is too weather dependent. 

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

Byron Begley
February 8, 2015 

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