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 6:35 am, dark and 48 degrees this Sunday morning. 

The streams are flowing slightly higher than yesterday.  Light rain moved into our area early last evening.  That was unexpected.  All streams in the Park with USGS gauges, show some rise in water levels except Cataloochee Creek, which is receding.

Little River is flowing at 862 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 3.02 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 323 cfs.  Yesterday morning, the gauge reading was 2.79 feet.  The water temperature is 51.6 degrees this morning.

Can you believe all of this information?  What did we do before the internet?

Good news!  The rain is over.  Better news, temperatures will be very warm.  Best news, fishing is going to be very good this week.

Higher than normal water today, will require choosing your spots. You might do best with nymphs.  Spring hatches have begun so be prepared for some dry fly fishing.  You never know.  Or, do you?

As the waters recede this week, expect easier dry fly fishing and easier fishing overall.  We’ll have plenty of aquatic activity, from the trout and insects.  Highs will be in the high 60’s to low 70’s through Tuesday.  Then, it may cool off some, with highs in the 50’s.

It may rain off and on during the week beginning Tuesday.  No heavy rain is expected at this point, through the weekend.

This is what we have been waiting for, for a long time.  Expect hatches and trout feeding in these beautiful streams.  Quill Gordons and Blue Quills will be on the water.  Other aquatic insects will be active. 

Constant discharge at Norris Dam and Cherokee Dam is expected today.  Remember the days, when we had to call someone at the dams, on a copper wired telephone, to ask about the generation schedules for that day?  At some point, that live person was replaced with a recording. 

Both Norris and Cherokee lake levels are higher than TVA likes to see them at this time of year.  You can see this information by clicking on the lake TVA links on the lower left, then clicking on the Operating Guide.  All of our lakes are higher than normal, due to this rain we’ve been getting lately. 

Rainfall for the year, as recorded at the Knoxville Airport, is almost normal.  Rainfall since March 1st is much higher than normal.  Paula read what the Farmer’s Almanac had to say about the weather, this Spring, to Jack and I a couple of nights ago.  We should expect warmer than normal temperatures and above normal rainfall according to the book. 

Before we even heard of the internet, my friends and I would meet in the Smokies often, fly fishing the streams here.  We didn’t know exactly what fishing conditions to expect.  We knew generally, what the air temperature would be and how much rain fell in major cities.  We got that from television.  If there was flooding, we knew that.

We knew nothing about flows and water temperature in the Great Smoky Mountains.  We just showed up, hoped for the best, and made due with what we had.  We were usually camping.  Back then, we didn’t know.  Now, we know.  Now, we can see the stream conditions in real time on the internet. 

Most people, me not being one of them, can see that information on their telephone.  If you bail out of a fishing trip, because of expected poor fishing conditions, you can take a selfie photograph of yourself, using the telephone, sitting at home, wishing you were fishing. You can even share that photograph with a few hundred million people if you want to.

You can even see it on the dashboard of your fishing truck.  My truck is too old.  It doesn’t know.  Even my dashboard lights quit working a year ago.  I think that happened the time I last washed it. I probably got water in the dashboard somehow.

If we had known, we might have backed out of some great times.  Sure, we spent days standing under a canopy at Elkmont, rain falling and watching Little River flowing by, too high to fish.  It didn’t matter.  We always seemed to find a place to fish, usually smaller streams.  Sometimes we didn’t catch a thing.  Other times, we wore the trout out.  Being with friends meant more to us than catching fish.  We always had a great time.

Maybe “knowing” is not a good thing, in some ways.  Knowing, controls our behavior these days.  The “unknown” days, prior to the internet, were probably better for me.   

Fishing is about who you are with and where you are.

Jack and I were talking about side scanning sonar night before last.  Today, you can look at a monitor, and see the fish in the water, 360 degrees around your boat.  “Hey, cast over there.”  “There are six smallmouth bass next to that fallen tree, and one of them looks to be about 6 pounds.”  We agreed that takes the fun out of the sport.  We prefer to think there are 100 fish next to that fallen tree, and they all weigh 10 pounds.  The “unknown” is a lot more fun than “knowing”.

Enjoy your upcoming week, fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains or wherever you are or who you are with.  I don’t “know”, but I think fishing is going to be very good this week.

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

Byron Begley
March 15, 2015

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