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 39 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The weather forecast calls for sunny skies and 69 degrees today.  And listen to this, the high tomorrow will be in the low to mid 70’s.

Little River is flowing at 214 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.87 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 391 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:00 am is 45.8 degrees.

It has been dry lately.  We need rain.  I saw an article in the newspaper today about brush fires occurring in our County.  It looks like we will get some rain Tuesday night through Wednesday night.  The chance for rain is 80%.  I hope it happens.

Fishing has been good for about a week due to this warm spell.  As usual in the early Spring, some anglers are doing well and others are not.  Some people are seeing Quill Gordons and Blue Quills on the water.  Others are not.  Some fishermen are catching trout on dry flies.  Others are doing better with nymphs and wet flies.

That pretty much describes what is usual in the early Spring.  The hatches are sporadic.  The aquatic insects may be active in one section of the river at a particular time, but inactive in other sections.  That is normal.  Then, all of a sudden, bugs come off where they didn’t before.   

Predicting where and when the insects will be hatching is hard to do.  I guess it is impossible.

What we can be fairly sure of is, when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees or warmer, the trout will be feeding.  They often feed when the water is cooler.  Yesterday, the water temperature in Little River below the confluence of the three prongs barely exceeded 50 degrees yesterday.  On Saturday, it reached 48 degrees.

On Wednesday and Thursday the water temps at the “Y” topped out at 45 degrees.  Fishing was very good both of those days. 

I don’t think there is any doubt we’ll see 50+ degree water in the low elevations today and tomorrow.  Then, we are in for another cold spell.  By “cold” I mean lows in the 20’s on Wednesday and Thursday.  The high Thursday should only be 45 degrees.  Then, it warm up again by the weekend.

The hot nymph right now is the Bead Head Pheasant Tail.  For dry flies I would pick a #16 Blue Quill imitation, a #12 Quill Gordon, or a Parachute Adams in either of those sizes.  Drop a small Bead Head Pheasant Tail off the Parachute Adams.  You should do well today and tomorrow.

Some flowers are blooming.  We heard a whippoorwill Friday night at our house.  Spring is slowly coming.  Spring fly fishing in the Smoky Mountains is happening right now. 

The Fishing Gauge is pointing at “Good”.  Good is the midpoint between “Slow” and “Excellent”.  We see “Slow” most of the Winter and sometimes during the Summer when the water is low.  We see the gauge point to “Good” when many anglers are catching trout.  “Excellent” means the trout are going crazy and bugs are all over the water.  We don’t see that often.  When we do it is usually in the Spring when the water temperature is sustained in the 50’s.  “Lousy” depicts conditions of flooding or extremely cold water. 

During the Winter months, the gauge may be pointing to “Slow” but actually, fishing for big brown trout is very good for those who are willing and know how to do it.  Most people are not willing to get out on cold days, spend time stalking one or two big trout, stay hidden and making a perfect cast. Since most people don’t do it, the Fishing Gauge points to “Slow”. 

I always try to write this report, as if it would be read by an average angler.  Some people have decades of frequent angling experience in the Smokies.  Some visit once a year or every other year.  Some fly fishermen are beginners and still learning the tricks.  I want to reach out to all of you, so to do that, my description of the conditions apply to those in the middle.

So, if I say the fishing is slow, there are those who know how to catch fish no matter what the conditions happen to be at that time.

Right now, fishing is good.  Thursday will probably be slow.  Saturday and Sunday will probably be good again, especially in the afternoons.  Everything I am predicting is based on the water temperature in the lower elevations.  Except for extreme flows and huge hatches, temperature is my only consideration.  Nobody is reporting any “huge hatches” right now.

Remember, the water is usually colder in the high elevations that is is down here. That can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the time of year.  

Also, the reporting here is based on input from the professional guides we work with.  They are out there often, all day long.  They see it all. 

We will have good to excellent fishing, off and on for three months.  And, if the weather cooperates, that can extend into the Summer.  I think Spring is the best time to be here for most anglers.  It has begun and I am glad it has.

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

Byron Begley
March 10, 2014 

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