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 dark, foggy and 53 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Yesterday’s high was 72.  Today’s high is expected to be the same.

Little River is flowing below normal at 319 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.23 feet on the gauge.  Perfect!  Median flow for this date is 397 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:38 am is 51.6 degrees.  Yesterday’s highest recorded water temperature at the Townsend “Y” was 55.5 degrees.

Weather forecasts indicate a good chance for rain Thursday and even a slight chance for snow showers Friday night.  High temperatures will reach the 70’s each day until Friday.  It should be cooler this weekend with highs in the 40’s and 50’, and lows in the 30’s to 40’s.  Next week will be warm again.

Fishing is excellent.  I don’t say that often.  It really is.  Fishermen are catching trout on nymphs or dry flies.  If it looks like food, the trout are eating.  I don’t know what’s going on in the high elevations.  It’s cooler up there.  Most fishermen I’ve talked to are spending their time in the low to mid elevations.

Quill Gordons and Blue Quills are still on the water in the lower elevations, along with many other species of aquatic insects.  Fishermen are using the dark grey mayflies but are also doing well with caddis and attractor dry flies.  Green or Pink Weenies are producing well in the brook trout streams. Any reasonable nymph will work.  Try a Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, Prince Nymph or just about any nymph normally used in our area.

When the cold front moves in this weekend, fishing may slow some. Or, maybe it won’t.

We have a lot of fly fishermen in the Smokies right now.  One reason is, the fishing is great.  The other reason is, TVA has been generating on our local tailwaters frequently and with vigor.  You may find some wading opportunities on the Holston River today.  Check the TVA website to see their schedule.  It appears the generation at Norris Dam on the Clinch River will be full bore all day again.  When will that activity stop?  Soon, I hope. 

Lynn Camp Prong is getting hammered.  I talked to a lady yesterday, who hiked several miles up that stream.  She said, there was never a time, that she could not see a fly fisherman in the river.

Business at our store rivals May, our best month of the year.  We are way up from March last year, for the first three weeks. 

I don’t remember a March like this one. Of course, I don’t remember a February like the one we just had.  Business was awful.  The weather was worse.  That is another reason so many people are fishing here.  We spent much of the Winter indoors, sometimes without a choice. 

We should all be happy now.  It is great to be outdoors whether you are camping, hiking or fishing.  The weather is perfect, in this part of America. 

This is not tourist season in the Smokies.  It’s not crowded here.  Traffic is not heavy in Townsend.  The people we see now are true outdoor enthusiasts.  Many are with their children, on Spring break.  Others are taking an early vacation, because here, the weather conditions are so comfortable.  And, fishing is excellent.  Many are retired, with lots of flexibility in their schedules.  They go when the fishing is good.  They go fishing when they want, not when they can.

It’s a lot of fun, talking to customers in our store, when fishing is excellent.  Customers in our store are always happy but when fishing is like it is now, that happiness is elevated to the highest level. 

That happiness must be infectious.  I’m extremely happy too and I’m not fishing.  I’m working on an upgrade project on our boat.  I’m pretty sure she will be ready next week.  Paula and I will be fishing then.  The weather forecast looks good next week.  The smallmouth bass should be on the banks.  They may be now.  Jack says they are.

Yesterday I picked up some more stainless steel hardware for the boat.  Debbie, who owns Maryville Fastener was helping me once again.  I love that place.  She founded it years ago.  It’s the only store I know of, that has a selection of stainless steel screws, nuts, bolts and washers, in all sizes made from precious stainless steel. She has carved out a niche in a market, mariners flock there for their boating fastener needs.  Anyone, seeing bolts, nuts, washers and screws flock there for that personal attention and selection.  It’s just a fun place to go.

I asked her yesterday if she was open on Sunday.  Jack and I were working on the boat last Sunday and needed some things.  She said she is closed on Sunday, but if I needed something, to call her and she would open for me.  I would never do that.  But, that one statement, offered with sincerity, reinforced my view of that store and her commitment to customer service.  She is smart.  No doubt about that.  I just love customer service stories.

Then, I went to the pharmacy after visiting my doctor.  Here comes another customer service story.  My pharmacy is Blount Discount Pharmacy on Gill Street.  Anyone in the pharmacy business in our state knows about this place.  It is either the highest or second highest volume pharmacy in the State of Tennessee.  I’ve heard both from professionals in the industry.  I grew up hanging around drug stores.  Both of my grandfathers, my father and my mother were pharmacists.  Mom and Dad met in pharmacy school at the University of Louisville. 

Blount Discount Pharmacy is a small store.  Inside, many people are working and working hard.  Prescriptions are filled by a staff of probably 6 to 8 pharmacists and technicians.  I never counted.  I’m guessing and that number differs depending on what day it is.  Additionally, there are several people working with customers, non-stop, all day long.  I would say there are 6 to 8 of them, waiting on customers on any given day. 

Many of those people know who I am.  Yesterday, Terry told me she ate in Townsend this weekend.  Two pharmacists yelled out to me, something about fishing.  When you are in that store, you are in a very friendly atmosphere.  Some customers are not happy.  They may be sick or having a health insurance issue.  But those people working there handle the huge customer load and have a great attitude every time I’m there. 

I enjoy just sitting or standing there, watching all of that stuff going on.  I love business and I’m particularly tuned into customer service.  Blount Discount Pharmacy on Gill Street has it nailed.  I love going there.

We try to do the same thing and I think we do it very well too.  We are a great staff.  Like drug stores, I’ve been in a lot of fly shops.  When I visit fly shops, I’m not looking at the merchandise.  I’m watching the people working there.  I pay close attention to greetings, reading body language, “Thank You’s” on the phone and in person, watching to see if the staff walks out from behind the counter and stands next to the customer.  I look for smiles and laughter. 

I want to hear a staffer offer information to the customer.  Do they do it because they sincerely want to help, or because it makes them look smart?  I watch for big egos.  We see a lot of that in our industry for some reason.  How quickly does a fly shop associate get to the ringing phone?  Do they treat women as well as they treat men?  Do they treat beginners as well as they treat experts?  Do they treat first time shoppers as well as they treat the regulars?  That’s what I look at in fly shops.  I don’t see much of anything else. I don’t care as much about anything else. 

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

Byron Begley
March 24, 2015  

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