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 overcast and 42 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was extremely light, especially compared to what we saw yesterday.  The time changed overnight, we sprang forward, and I feel it.

Little River is flowing at 221 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.89 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 383 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:15 am is 46 degrees.  The water temperature rose to 48 degrees yesterday.

Fishing is good.  Fishing has been good for a few days.  Aquatic insects are hatching at times, mostly Blue Quills.  Some Quill Gordons were spotted yesterday but there were probably more on Wednesday and Thursday.  I was making merchandising signs yesterday so I only talked to a couple of returning anglers.  One, a regular said he didn’t see any of the quills hatching.  Another said he caught a few fish.

There were a lot of fishermen on the rivers yesterday.  We were busy here but not as busy as I expected.  Paula drove to Maryville to visit a sick friend.  She said it took “forever” for her to turn toward Maryville on Highway 321.  She said the traffic just kept coming.  This is only the second really beautiful weekend all year and people got out.  Some of them were fishermen. 

One angler told Alex he was fishing in the East Prong, caught a few trout, then other anglers started wading in near him.  He left.  We have over 800 miles of fishable trout streams in the Smokies.  There is no reason I can think of to fish close to somebody else. 

I don’t know how crowded the rivers will be today.  Sunday mornings are usually slow around here.  It is going to be another very warm day.  Water temperatures will rise.  Aquatic activity will be high.  Fishing will be good.

Fishing along roads, where access is easly is where you will feel crowded, especially on one of the first pretty Saturdays of the year.  You can walk into the backcountry and get away from people.  I don’t know, I wasn’t out there yesterday.  I always fish on weekdays.  I never fish on weekends.

The early Spring hatches are sporadic and often short lived in the early Spring.  You may get an hour or two of really good dry fly fishing during the day.  And, it depends on where you are.  These hatches can happen anywhere in the mid to low elevations where the water is warmer. 

If you don’t see bugs hatching or trout rising, go to sub-surface flies.  Bead Head Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ear or other mayfly patterns will do.  A Quill Gordon wet fly is an excellent choice.  Fish them below a dry fly and double your chances. 

If you think you are fishing where someone just left, move to another location.

This warm spell will continue through Tuesday.  The high temperature today should be 63, the high tomorrow, 69 and Tuesday should be really warm, in the 70’s.  Fishing is going to get better.  Then it will be cool for a couple of days.

People who have fly fished in the Smokies for decades, and pay attention, will tell you, “when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees or more, and stays at that temperature for 3 days, the fishing gets really good”.  That has not happened yet. 

When that does happen, we will be describing the fishing as “Excellent”, not “Good”.  Sometimes that happens in March, sometimes April and it has occurred in February.  Water temperature dictates the description of fishing as “Slow”, “Good” and “Excellent”.  It’s about a simple as that.  Right now, fishing is good.  Water flow is another important factor to consider.  When the streams are blown out, fishing is slow.  If the streams are too low, fishing is slow.

It’s about time.  This has been a tough Winter in the East.  We are near the most southern range of wild trout in the Appalachians.  Spring comes early here, usually.  Looking ahead 10 days, we should see temperatures above normal for March unless the weather forecast changes. 

I would like to see more rain in the forecast.  It looks like Wednesday will be the best chance for rain first.  After that, it looks like Monday the 17th will be next.

Our second huge order of flies should arrive Monday.  We got our first big one for the year a week ago. 

One fly pattern that is not on our next order is the  Game Changer.  We should have received those in January.  Demand is so high, the manufacturer who makes the body material is way behind.  I talked to him a week ago.  We’ve had 100 packs of CCT Body Fur ordered for over a month.  Additionally, we have 200 packs of a special run of CCT Body Fur that was ordered in November.  There is no telling when that will arrive.  We buy it so sell to fly tyers.  We are almost out.  We don’t know when it will be available.  Another material, Hareline’s Minnow Body Wrap is currently in stock and probably readily available from the distributor.

We order most of our flies months before they arrive, from reliable companies.  In our business, you don’t want to buy flies from unreliable suppliers. Even reliable suppliers misjudge demand.  Our pre-season orders are supposed to be “high priority” for them.  

Well, today is bookkeeping day for me.  I’ll run payroll, pay the bills and make the payroll tax deposit.  Saturday and Sunday are always workdays for me unless I’m on vacation.  On Sundays, I stay locked in my office doing all the paperwork stuff I love so much.  Bill and Paul are working downstairs today. 

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

Byron Begley
March 9, 2014

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