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 5:20 am, it is 28 degrees on our front porch and nothing else is happening.  It didn’t snow as predicted by the National Weather Service.  The forecast has changed.

Now, it looks like we’ll have rain and sleet today with a high temperature of  34 to 38 degrees.

Tonight, The rain will change to snow and the temperature will drop to 22 degrees.

Who knows.  This was going to be the “Big Winter Storm” of the year.  Maybe we missed the bullet.  

Little River is flowing at 307 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.99 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 318 cfs.  The water temperature is currently 33.4 degrees.

Fishing will be very slow in the Smokies.  Whatever our precipitation turns out to be, it could be much worse in the mountains.  I wouldn’t go fishing there today.

After the precipitation moves through our area tonight, we’ll see the temperatures drop. Lows will be in the teens starting tomorrow night, dropping further to below zero or at zero Wednesday night and Thursday night.

Looking ahead to February 25th, it will be cold.  Spring fishing won’t arrive in February this year. 

So, we look forward to March.  The time changes in early March.  We can go fishing after work.  It will be warmer.  Fishing will be good at some point.  Last year, fishing was good, the first week of March.

I looked at our sales numbers yesterday for March last year.  We had a busy month.  What also happens is, we sell a lot of fishing licenses.  Tennessee resident licenses expire at the end of February.  Last year, we sold $3,000 worth per week in that month.  That takes a lot of time and we need people working to handle that rush.  March is not profitable due to that.  It’s always been that way.

But, we also sell lots of everything else.  That offsets our high labor costs somewhat.

In March, we sell a lot of flies, more than you can imagine.  Fly tyers are still active.  Tying materials sell well in March.  What happens depends on the weather and of course. Fishing conditions are normally good.  We do get some cold spells and sometimes snow.  Overall, March is nice here. 

We’re getting close.  The merchandise will be coming in and going out.  I can’t wait.

I’m looking forward to writing good fishing reports every morning.  I spend an hour and a half every day, writing and assembling this report.  That’s over 500 hours during the year.  When fishing is good to excellent, this part of my job is a lot more fun. I am looking forward to March.

A steady stream of fishermen will be in our store in March, especially on weekends.  That makes our job more enjoyable.

It’s Daniel’s job to make sure we don’t run out of the flies that are working in the Smokies at that time.  We can’t run out of the proper sizes of leaders and tippet.  We can’t run out of floatant.  He’s been taking care of that for years. 

I’m tying our two best selling smallmouth bass flies, Knuckleheads and Bass Buggers.  Since early January, I’ve been tying 14 hours per week, building up our stock.  I have 42 dozen Knuckleheads tied right now.  I’m switching to Bass Buggers starting today.  When we have 60 dozen Knucklheads in back stock, I can slow down on the tying and allot more time, each week, to our website. 

We can’t buy these flies so I have to tie them.  We’ll have other bass flies to sell, but these two out-sell all the others combined because they work so well.  The Knuckleheads will be available for sale next week.  We will be selling them online in packages of six.  I’ll keep that back stock level high, so when fishing gets good, I can stop tying for a couple of weeks without getting behind.

The first groups of eco-tourists arrive in March.  They are mostly anglers and hikers.  That continues for a few months.  We’ll see photographers arrive in April.  Wildflower photographers will be everywhere you look in the Smokies.  Backpackers will be pouring in the area in April.  Campers in motor homes and travel trailers will be driving through town in droves.  It’s all getting ready to begin.

Right now, we have to deal with cold temperatures and very little tourism activity.  Right now, we wait.

I’m waiting for fishing to be good so I can go.  I can’t ever remember being so anxious for fishing weather.  We just need a few good warm days to bring that on. 

I’m not getting any younger.  My priorities have changed this year.  My plan is to fish more than ever before.  My close friends are thinking the same thing.  So is Paula. 

I’m not going to let anything change that at this point. Fly fishing will be one of my highest priorities, for the rest of my life. It feels good to have made that decision. Maybe that’s why I’m so anxious for Spring fishing to begin.  I have owned a business, continuously, for over 40 years.  It’s time for a change. 

You have to be careful, not to make non-fishing commitments in the future.  What if you plan something, and the fishing is excellent.  Maybe what you planned coincides with the best fishing day of the year.  Well, you made a mistake.  You may have missed a huge opportunity, to do something you didn’t want to do in the first place.  People ask me all the time to do things.  “It’s only one day”.  Hey, that one day may be “THE DAY”.  When “THE DAY” comes, I’m going to be on the water.  That’s how I’m going to live the rest of my life.

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

Byron Begley
February 16, 2015

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