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 5:32 am.  The temperature outside is 51 degrees.  We were hammered by a strong thunderstorm last night at bedtime for me, 9 pm.

We had some windows open and it was warm in the house.  Sometime during the night, after the storms passed, it was cold in here.  It still is.  I saw pictures on a local TV station website, sent in by viewers, of ice piled in yards.  We didn’t get any hail last night as far as I could tell.  I would have heard that on the metal roof.  But, we had a storm that will affect fishing today, at least for a while.

The water temperature in Little River is still warm, 56.5 degrees.  The water levels are rising.  Right now, Little River is flowing at 585 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.74 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 384 cfs.  And, like I said, the water is still rising.  I suspect it is stained too.

It is possible, the heaviest rain might have missed some watersheds. You may find fishable streams in the Park.  I don’t know.

It will be cloudy this morning with sun this afternoon.  The high temperature is expected to be 61 degrees.  Tonight will be cold, in the mid 30’s in the valley and colder than that in the mountains.  We are under a freeze warning tonight.

Not knowing how much rain we had last night, I can’t say what the water levels will do today.  They could keep rising or fall.  We’re hoping for falling water. 

Water temperatures will drop by tomorrow morning.  But, the high tomorrow is expected to be 70 degrees.  Fishing should be good tomorrow and maybe later today.

We have been extremely busy at the shop, both in store sales and mail order.  March was way up from the same month last year and we are up for the year.  February was way down because of the bad weather, causing us to even close two days.  I noticed several mail orders yesterday from the Midwest.  They must be getting close to some fishing conditions up there.

Tomorrow is Easter.  We will be closed and I won’t be writing a fishing report.  Getting up at 5:30 am will be impossible for me tomorrow.  I’m watching both final 4 basketball games tonight.  I’ll be up later than any night this year.

Our boat remodel is finished.  I made the final additions of the new equipment last night.  She is ready to go.  Paula and I plan to fish at least two days next week.  Looking at the weather forecast, picking those days now will be tough. 

Monday looks decent with a 60% chance for rain.  I have to run payroll Monday. I could go in tomorrow and do that.

Tuesday looks better, but the wind may gust to 15 miles per hour. At 15 miles per hour, it’s hard to control the boat.

Wednesday, we expect thunderstorms.  Unless the forecast changes, Wednesday is probably out.  We will probably have more thunderstorms Friday.

Thursday looks fair.  I think we’ll plan on Tuesday and Thursday.  I can’t wait.  The smallmouth bass will be taking Knuckleheads on the surface and practically jumping in the boat.  I’m usually optimistic about fishing.  That makes it more fun.  Most likely, they will be taking wooly buggers below the surface.  We’ll be prepared for both.

Today is opening day of turkey season.  Our neighbor’s two sons are here to hunt this morning.  It’s funny, how nature works.  Until yesterday, we saw turkeys running around every day.  They were all over the place.  The two sons came in yesterday, rode around on their 4 wheelers, having a big time, and I didn’t see one turkey.  They are gone.  They know.  I was invited to hunt with them.  I couldn’t shoot one of these birds.  They are too much like pets.  So, it will be interesting to see, how smart these turkeys are. 

These guys would have been much better off, sneaking into our area, staying in their dad’s house, and not letting those birds notice that something is different.  We have three homes back in here, on 60 acres, and it is usually very quiet.  Yesterday, it was totally different.  It was noisy.  The wildlife took notice.

Just like fly fishing for wild trout in the Smokies, keeping yourself hidden, and not creating a difference, is essential to success.  Wildlife, fish or animals, are keenly aware of change. 

I’ve found, while fly fishing for smallmouth bass, if someone in the boat, thumps the hull with a fly reel, we might as well move down the bank a few hundred feet to start fishing again.  Those fish heard that noise and they are on high alert. 

Fishing is hunting.

Here’s an interesting situation.  A guide’s client caught a rainbow in Lynn Camp Prong this week.  This is a recently opened, wild brook trout stream,  the subject of a 7-year brook trout restoration program.  The rainbows were removed, for the most part.  A waterfall keeps the encroaching rainbows out.

I’ve talked to people who have caught hundreds of brook trout out of this stream since it opened in early March.  I’ve not heard one word about rainbows until now.  So, what should you do if you catch one?  Remove it from the stream. If it is 7” long or longer, take it home and eat it.

That’s what I would do.  I helped the Forest Service electrochock a stream that had been reintroduced with brookies, years ago.  At one point, our team captured a rainbow.  That fish ended up as fertilizer for rhododendron.

I guarantee you, killing the rainbow is what the biologists will do this Summer when they sample Lynn Camp Prong, if they capture one.  That may not be legal, if you asked a Park Ranger.  That doesn’t follow the written book of rules.  However, the biologists, who have worked hard with many volunteers, for years, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make this stream a brook trout fishery, would probably tell you to do the same thing.

If faced with this decision, you decide.  It’s your call.  I’m just telling you what I would do.

A few rainbow trout, left in Lynn Camp Prong, over time, could waste all the time and money spent to make this a native brookie stream. Thousands of rainbows were removed using a fish toxin, in two different applicatons in this stream.

I practice catch and release almost exclusively. The only exception is in the ocean. I don't like killing fish or anything else. I don't keep trout or smallmouth bass. I do harvest an occasional sea trout or flounder.

It is 7 am.  The water level in Little River is still rising sharply.  The gauge height is 3 feet.

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

Byron Begley
April 4, 2015

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