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.

Welcome to the Fishing Report from Townsend, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains. At 5:53 am, the temperature is 29.3 degrees. A light coat of frozen rain is coating the uncovered decks here. The concrete driveways are wet, not frozen.

Freezing rain is expected this morning, then changing to rain. The high temperature today is predicted to be 45 degrees. Some businesses in our County are opening later than usual. Most schools are closed due to the holiday.

Some roads in the Park are closed due to ice. The road Twitter page, indicating road closures has not been updated for 12 hours. It is hard to say now, if there have been changes since then.

Little River is flowing at 218 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.84 feet on the flow gauge. Median flow for this date is 308 cfs. The water temperature is 35.2 degrees this morning.

Fishing in the Smoky Mountains will be slow today due to the cold water temperatures.

This is not a fun day to write a fishing report.

There is good news. The long term forecast, through February 29th, indicates a warming trend arriving Thursday. We will see high temperatures in the high 50’s to mid 60’s through Monday the 22nd. Lows at night will be in the mid 30’s to high 40’s.

I have been receiving e-mail from people who are planning their March fishing trips to the Smokies. Spring breaks begin in early March in the East United States. Of course, these fishermen want to know what to expect. 

I am looking back at Fishing Reports written on March 15th. Here is what I found:

March 15, 2015 - Flow 862 cfs – Water Temperature 51.6 degrees
March 15, 2014 - Flow 205 cfs – Water Temperature 45.8 degrees
March 15, 2013 - Flow 542 cfs – Water Temperature 41.7 degrees
March 15, 2012 - Flow 440 cfs – Water Temperature 54.0 degrees
March 15, 2011 - Flow 723 cfs – Water Temperature 50.0 degrees
March 15, 2010 - Flow 312 cfs – Water Temperature 44 degrees
March 15, 2009 - Flow N/A – Water Temperature 50 degrees

You can see, the water can be high or low, cold or warm. And remember, the snowstorm of the century and the flood of the century, both happened in early March, in the early 90’s. During the flood, if my memory serves me well, Little River peaked at around 15,000 cfs. We had 4 feet of snow in the mountains, and 30” in town, during the snowstorm.

We like to see flows below 500 cfs. We hope for water temperatures near 50 degrees. Aquatic insects, mostly Quill Gordon and Blue Quill mayflies, hatch when the water temperature reaches the high 40’s. They hatch in large numbers, sporadically, when the water temperature is sustained at 50 degrees or warmer. Blue Wing Olives hatch when the water is cooler or warmer. Occasionally, the Quill Gordon and Blue Quill hatches occur in late February. They are more likely to occur in March, or both months.

So, we wait to see what happens. If you are planning a fishing trip here in March, at this point, you never know what to expect. I would plan to be here and take my chances. I have along history of doing that, because I’m so anxious to start fishing in the Spring.

Paula and I plan our saltwater fishing trips months in advance. We have to, to rent the houses we enjoy. Our big problem has always been wind. You can’t predict wind either.

Fishing is un-predictable, we know it, we are used to it, and we live with it. Fishing is weather dependent.

It’s the same in the fly fishing business. When the weather is good, business is good. When the weather is bad, business is somewhat slow. We have the advantage of being in the mail order business. Fishing may be slow here, but it is probably good somewhere else. And, in the Spring, anglers start buying gear. So, March is normally a good month for us, despite the weather we are having here. Our mail order business begins picking up in late February, so, we are here waiting for you now.

Fishermen are good for the lodging and restaurant business in Townsend. We are the first to arrive in the Spring. The lodging folks are happy to see us. Then, we see hikers and photographers, when the wildflowers bloom. Campers arrive in big numbers when the weather warms. All of this activity is not far off. We hope it is sooner than later.

I’m going to leave some photos I took Saturday morning on the report today. They were placed here on yesterday’s report. Not many people read this report on Sunday. I want you to see these. This bobcat, was crouched on the ground behind our house Saturday morning, 30 feet from my office window. What a beautiful animal. He or she has been seen by us frequently over the past two months, but never this close.

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

Byron Begley
February 15, 2016

Bobcat, hunting behind the Begley home.

Closeup view of bobcat in Townsend, Tennessee.

Bobcat squinting his eyes in the sun.

Bobcat stretching before walking off.

Bobcat, about to walk into the dense forest and disappear.

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