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.  At 6:18 am, it is raining and 47 degrees.  The rain should cease in a couple of hours. Then, it is going to get even warmer as the week progresses.  We’ll see high temperatures in the 70’s, tomorrow through Friday.

Little River is rising sharply.  That is not too worrisome right now because the current flow is much lower than normal.  I don’t know how much rain fell in the mountains, but I doubt if we’ll see much of a rise today.

Little River is currently flowing at 275 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.12 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 372 cfs.  The water temperature is 46.4 degrees.  The water could be stained.  I don’t know.

Fishing is probably fair.  You may need to find a stream this morning that is clear.  The water temperature is on the cool side.

Tomorrow through Friday will be the best days to fish and fishing should be very good to excellent.  We’ll enjoy warmer water and active trout for sure, later this week.  We will have a slight chance for rain each day.  Warm, seasonal temperatures are also expected through April 8th.

So, great fishing in the Smoky Mountains is back.  That cold snap seemed odd but that happens in March as well as April some years.  It is normal. 

Before the cold spell, fishing in the Smokies was a good as it can be, better than any time I remember.  We’ve been very busy at the shop.  March has been a good month.

We have some cool events and classes coming up. One in particular is our Nymphing Tactics Class to be held on Sunday April 19th.  The class will be taught by Bill Bolinger and Rob Fightmaster.  Bill is retired but works in the shop, part time and has for years.  He is an authority on fly fishing in the Smokies.  He has probably helped you.  Rob is a professional guide and instructor at our school.

Fishing with nymphs is perplexing to some fishermen.  And, there are many different techniques involved.  Trout eat most of their food under the surface.  So, knowing how to use nymphs below the surface, will certainly improve your fishing.  This one-day class will begin in our classroom, then move to a stream in the Smokies for the afternoon.  It is limited to 8 students.  Call the shop at 865-448-9459 to enroll.  You don’t need to be an expert.  Anyone can learn.

Park Burson, our Regional Manager from Orvis and Scientific Anglers will be in the shop on Saturday April 18th.  He will be showing you the new tackle from both companies.  This is an opportunity for you to trade in your old fly lines for a new Scientific Angler fly line for $20.  I don’t know all the specifics but I will by tomorrow.

I worked yesterday until 1:00 pm, then Jack came over and we finished the remodel of our boat.  It looks great.  Paula and I bought this boat over 5 years ago.  It is a 16’ Lowe utility boat with a 20 hp Mercury 4-stroke engine.  What Jack and I did was build and install plywood floors so fishing will now be more comfortable.  I painted the inside of the boat.  Yesterday, I re-installed the seats.  Then, we added a front deck and a new Minn Kota Riptide trolling motor on the bow.  The job is finished.  Paula and I are planning to launch her Wednesday to fish on one of our local lakes.  Jack and I started the engine yesterday and it ran perfectly.

We are hoping the smallmouth bass have moved into shallow water.  They will be preparing to spawn.  This time of year, we usually start the day, fishing with weighted wooly buggers, tied on bass stinger hooks.  I tie some with as many as 20 wraps of lead on the hook shank, to quickly get them down.  I tie some of those on 2/0 jig hooks, so we don’t get snagged on limbs or the bottom as often.  They work well when the bass are in water that is over 3 or 4 feet deep. 

If the bass are congregated near exposed boulders, close to shore, we use buggers tied with less weight, for the shallower water.  Boulders absorb heat from the sun, which is then transferred to the water, warming the shallow banks.  Sometimes, we find the fish there. 

If the bass are cruising shallow water, we tie on a floating Byron’s Knuclehead, a foam fly I came up with a few years ago, that has proven to produce very well at times.  We also use those flies for largemouth bass and bluegill.

Fly fishing on a lake is a lot of fun.  I like the fact I can sit in a cushy seat and enjoy the day.  Inching along a bank, casting a fly, sight fishing and enjoying the scenery on the water has become my favorite kind of fly fishing.

When I mention this to customers, many assume I’m using a spinning rod.  Actually, there has never been a spinning rod in our boat.  We do it all with flies, on rods in the 4 weight to 7 weight line sizes. 

As I’m getting older, and wading rocky streams is more difficult for me, I moved toward boat fishing, either on the lakes, tailwaters or the ocean.  It is easy on the body and mind, fishing from a boat.  Our lakes here are not crowded, if you know where to go and when.  We only fish on weekdays.  I think I counted 9 lakes we have near us.  With that many lakes, in a fairly sparsely populated area, the boaters are spread out.  Also, we don’t see many pleasure boaters, when the fishing is best, in the Spring and Fall.  A lot of friends, my age, are doing this now. 

You don’t see many fly fishermen on lakes.  Paula and I have spent up to a week, fishing a lake every day, and have not seen one other fly fisherman.  Due to that, the fish have not seen many flies.  They are used to hearing large artificial baits hit the water.  When a foam fly lands lightly on the water, bass notice, but they don’t seem to be afraid.  I’ve landed these flies almost on top of their heads, and they grab them, while I watch.  We have so much fun doing this type of fly fishing. 

We like kayak fishing too.  To me, it’s a little tougher to keep a kayak in position, while fishing.  With a fishing boat and trolling motor, standing and fly fishing is easy.  We have coolers at each end of the boat for a cold drink or lunch.  We have extra rods and reels, rigged and ready to go, without changing flies when you need to.  When it’s time to make a rigging change, you can sit down.  And, when the fishing is slow, we can just idle around the lakes, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a boat.  Our boat, motor and trailer cost $6,700 new.  Of course, you will be buying many accessories.  Fuel consumption, on our boat is minimal.  We have a 3-gallon tank.  We can fish all day, run fast often and never worry about running out of gas.  I could go on and on about the advantages.  You won’t know how fun it is, until you try it.

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

Byron Begley
March 30, 2015 

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