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 6:11 am, raining, and the temperature outside is 42 degrees.  We left some windows open in the house last night.  I got up earlier, closed them and turned on the heat.  It’s cold out there!

Little River is flowing at 323 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.24 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 344 cfs.  The river is rising.  It hasn’t peaked.  The Knoxville Airport is reporting overnight rainfall of over a half inch. The water temperature is 54.3 degrees this morning.

Tonight, we are expecting rain changing to snow and a low temperature of 26 degrees.  Tomorrow night will be clear, with a low of 24 degrees. 

Highs today and tomorrow should be in the 40’s.

This is a far cry from what we are used to, so far in March.  Last night I was painting the boat in a short sleeve shirt with the boat house garage door open.

Then, beginning Sunday, and continuing through the week, it will be warm again.  We will see highs in the 70’s again with lows in the 50’s beginning Tuesday.

Fly fishing in the Smokies has been as good as it gets.  Fishing has been excellent.  I’ve been working a lot, and have not been fishing all year.  My friends are telling me stories that seem unbelievable.  Fishing is better than most of us can remember.

I’m getting e-mails from people who had planned to fish here this weekend.  I’m sure there are more in my in-box this morning.  They are asking me how this cold weather will affect the fishing.  Some are wondering if they should cancel/postpone their trip or go somewhere else.

I can’t give them a definitive answer.  I don’t know.  I wish I knew. 

I do know this.  If the water temperature drops to the mid 40’s, fishing will slow.  Fishing has been good this Spring when the water temperature was in the higher 40’s.

If the water temperature drops to 40 or below, the fishing will be slow.

Sometimes, drastic changes in conditions, slow the fishing.  Cold fronts can “put the trout down”, even if the water temperature does not drop too much. I try to think back, through the years of watching this data, every day, and still, I don’t know.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

I do know, next week, the fishing will be good to excellent.

I know how these fishermen feel.  I don’t know how many fishing trips I planned and showed up for, when the fishing was slow due to poor fishing conditions.  Paula and I sat in a condo, in Cedar Key, Florida, watching the wind blow on the ocean for a week once.  We fished the last day. 

I’ve stood under tarps, trying to stay dry in a deluge while camping, in the Smokies, years ago, many times.  I’ve laid in backpacking tents, covered with snow, on fishing trips. 

Jack and I endured a tropical storm in Florida, on a tarpon fishing trip.  The condo swayed all night in the wind.  The storm surge was 4 feet.  Boats broke away from their slips during the night and sank.  We saw once floating boats, on the bank, laying on their sides.  The road washed out on the peninsula.  We put my truck in 4-wheel drive and went through with waves crashing over us. We could have evacuated like some people did.  We didn’t want to.  We had never been in a tropical storm. We had a great time.  

I guess, I’m one of those people, who plans a fishing trip and goes no matter what happens.  That has been proven many times over the past 50 years.  I’ve never had a bad time on a fishing trip, even if the fishing was slow or I couldn’t fish at all.  I always had a good time.

Our new Dollar General Store may open this weekend.  Crews arrived in big trucks.  They are stocking the store.  We are all excited.  I know, that sounds like something most people would not get excited about.  Hey, this is a small town.  Not much happens here. This is a big deal for us.

Maybe, some day, we’ll get a McDonalds, Burger King or Hardy’s.  Now that would be a big deal.  I doubt if I will ever see that happen.  The numbers don’t work.  We are too small.  Our tourism based economy is too small.  I like it just the way it is.  Most of us here feel the same way.

Paula and I are planning to take the newly remodeled boat to the lake next Wednesday.  Jack and I spent I don’t know how many hours painting and building decks, converting this utility boat into a more comfortable fishing boat.  We will bolt down the new bow mounted trolling motor this weekend.  We had to make a deck for that.  Jack did all the thinking, measuring and cutting.  I did all the painting and running to the store that sells stainless steel fasteners in Maryville.  The job is about done.  I finished the painting last night.

All the floors and bench seats got a coat of non-slip paint last night.  There won’t be any slipping and falling out of this boat.  Falling out of a boat is not good.

The lake fishing is pretty good right now.  We have trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, carp and other species to fish for in our lakes.  And, we have many lakes to choose from.  I hope Jack can get away so he and I can go next week too.

I walked out of the shop yesterday at about 5 pm.  I had been looking at a computer monitor for 10 hours.  I do that a lot.  I told Daniel yesterday, I’m cutting my work week back to 47 hours.  That will seem like being on vacation to me.  He said he would figure out a way to take some of my work load off me.  I’ll teach him how to do some of my bookkeeping chores next week.  This is not temporary.  This will be for the rest of my life.  I’m pumped.  I stared working on a schedule last night.

You know what I do, first thing on my day off?  I write this fishing report.  I’ve done it at 4 am so I can go fishing at daybreak.  This can take up to two hours.  There is more involved than just writing some text.  Some days, I can’t think of anything to say.  Sometimes, it’s tough.

But, thousands of people read this report each week.  It’s too important to just write a few words and update it once a week or less often.  I’ve seen fishing reports that are a year old on fly shop websites.  I see fishing reports, that tout the fact, the summer hatches have begun, in February.  I think they would be better off, not having a fishing report. I won’t let that happen, unless I break my arm.

It took an hour and a half to look up the data, search for Smokies news, weather, and write this story today.  I still have to copy, paste and change numbers on the web pages.  I'll copy yesterday's report, into the archive. It’s a 2-hour job, 361 days a year.  I started this in 2007.  Do the arithmetic.  It’s 14 hours per week.  You can extrapolate months and years.  I’m afraid to do it.

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

Byron Begley
March 27, 2015

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