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 and 36 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The temperature will drop today and the rain will become a wintry mix of sleet and snow.  It will warm some this weekend with a high Sunday of 60 degrees. 

Next week looks awesome with highs in the 50’s and 60’s and low temperatures in the 40’s.

Little River is flowing at 1,330 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 3.63 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 357 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:24 am is 47.5 degrees.

The water temperature reached and exceeded 50 degrees yesterday.  If the water level had been normal, fishing would have been good.  This warming trend will continue next week. If we don’t get a lot more rain, expect fishing to be good.  This is what we have been waiting for. It is way to early to tell what the water levels in the streams will be like next week.  We do know the water temperatures will be good for fly fishing in the Smokies.

The early spring hatches were most likely occurring yesteray.  Prepare to go with Quill Gordon and Blue Quill dry flies after the water recedes.  Have some Quill Gordon wet flies and Pheasant Tail nymphs in your fly box. You may see Blue Wing Olives on the water at times next week.

We may also see some smallmouth bass activity in the lowland rivers.  They become more active when the water reaches 50 degrees and beyond.

During March, fishing can be good some days, and slow on other days.  We have had the snowstorm of the century in early March.  We had the flood of the century in March, both during the past 20 years.

Don’t plan a “once a year” fishing trip to the Smokies in March.  Wait a while. You could be disappointed.  If you live closer, and fish here often, make plans to come, but be prepared to postpone.   

Yesterday, the high temperature was in the 70’s.  Last night, tree frogs sang until bedtime.  It was like a summer day all day.  I was off and Jack came over.  We spent hours in the boathouse, planning, measuring and working on the boat.  We saw wild turkeys walking through the woods, sometimes very close to us.  It was a beautiful day, something I hope to see repeated often, beginning Sunday.

This has been a cold winter and it seemed longer than usual.  I’m glad it is almost over and we can start fishing again.  We have one more cold day and two more cold nights in the 10 day forecast.  That should be it.  Spring will arrive.

The time changes Sunday, just in time.  Now we can fish after work.  That’s what we will be doing around here. We’ve been waiting anxiously for this.

Fishing will be best in the afternoons for a while, when the water is warmer.  Plan on using nymphs and wet flies early and dry flies later in the day in the Smoky Mountains.  Plan on sporadic, unpredictable hatches. When adult aquatic insects are on the water’s surface, and there is no apparent surface feeding, use the nymphs and wet flies.  The trout will be feeding.  You just have to find out where.  If the trout are feeding on the surface, you know what to do. 

Smallmouth bass in the lakes will be moving into shallower water.  Maybe they already have.  In a couple of weeks they will be there for sure.  They might be hanging in 6 feet of water or deeper, waiting to move into the shallows, waiting to spawn.  Where I fish, they usually spawn in April through early May.  Water temperature drives that behavior. 

On warm sunny days, the exposed boulders along the banks in lakes will become water heaters.  They absorb heat above the water, and transfer it to the water.  Smallies often move into shallow water to enjoy that warmth.  Don’t overlook that possibility.  That is when we use Wooly Buggers.  My favorite color is black.  The fish will move into the shore and out during this period.  You will have to try different things and figure out what works.  At times the fish may be 12 feet down or right below the surface during a given day.

Many of our lakes have roads running along one side.  Large boulders and riprap line the banks.  That’s where those water heaters are located.  That’s where I like to fish during the early Spring, when the water temperatures are just beginning to climb into the bass’ preferred range.

Anglers will be enjoying fishing the tailwaters in our area.  Fishing will be good in those tailwaters when the generation schedules are right for your particular type of fishing.  When the generators are off or the water is low, we’ll see fishermen wading.  Higher water is best for those fishing from boats. 

If we have a lot of rain this Spring, we’ll see more generating at the dams.  Right now, rainfall is over an inch below normal at the Knoxville Airport.  That doesn’t mean it is normal, higher or lower than normal in areas where the headwaters are located.  We have many rivers flowing through our area.  They flow from other states, to the Tennessee River.  What happens in Virginia or North Carolina can affect the water flows here.

Luckily, we have many options for the fly fisherman.  If you are willing to try different lowland rivers, tailwaters, mountain streams or lakes, it’s often easy to find a good place to fish in our region.  This area in Tennessee is a fly fisherman’s dream.  Moving here was my dream.  Moving here was a good move for me.

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

Byron Begley
March 5, 2015

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