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 6:12 am, the temperature is 62 degrees.  This will be a beautiful day, with a high in the low 80’s and a slight chance for rain.  It will be windy at times, up to 20 miles per hour.  It will rain tomorrow with possible thunderstorms.  Then, the weekend will be sunny, zero chance for rain and highs in the 70’s.

Little River is flowing at 426 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.46 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 380 cfs.  The water temperature is 56.7 degrees this morning.

David Knapp guided a family yesterday who are learning to fly fish.  They caught trout, but David thinks fishing was slower than it has been.  He went back to fish himself, to see if he is correct.  The water levels in the Park are on the high side of good. Fishing conditions are not perfect and weather patterns may be affecting the fishing temporarily.  It was windy yesterday.

Paula and I fished the Little Tennessee River yesterday in our boat.  We started in the late morning and fished until about 3 pm.  Fishing was slow.  It was windy.  Controlling the boat was tough.  I managed to catch one smallmouth that probably weighed 2 ½ pounds, which is a nice fish.  I usually weigh smallies in the 3 pound plus range.  This one was slightly smaller.  She hit a large, black, 2/0 Wooly Bugger, tied on a jig hook with 20 wraps of .020 lead free wire.  That fly gets down fairly deep.  It is a good pattern to use in lakes this time of year.  The water temperature was 57 degrees and slightly warmer in the creeks.

We thought about fishing again today.  The wind is keeping us at home.

If we don’t get too much rain tomorrow, the weekend should be a good time to fish in the Smokies.  The weather will have settled down.  The water may be high, we don’t know.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Yesterday, we drove to the construction site on Chilogate Creek.  This stream is the subject of a stream restoration project.  The restoration area is about 1 mile long.  This stream was evidently channelized at one time.  Now, the Park is changing the course, building it back to a natural meander, creating wetlands, riffles and pools.  It looks great. 

Chilogate Creek is located between the Foothills Parkway and Happy Valley Road, where it enters the Little Tennessee River.  There is no telling, how many species of fish, including trout, will spawn in the creek.  You can read the Park Service News Release, posted on their website in December 2014 by CLICKING HERE.  The restoration looked to be almost complete.

This restoration is similar to the restoration under construction at Hatchery Creek, below Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky.  I say similar but it really is different in many ways.  Hatchery Creek has a much higher discharge, and, the course is completely new.  The water source comes from the National Fish Hatchery.  You can visit a website with more information about this project by CLICKING HERE.  Watch the video.  There is a link on this page.  It is awesome.  I’ve watched it several times.  The new, one mile long stream, will hopefully have resident and anadromous populations of spawning rainbow, brown and brook trout.  Fishing in the new section will be artificial only and catch and release.  This restoration should be completed this year.

Yesterday, we watched a man in a kayak, fishing near us.  He was alone.  He caught his lure on an overhanging tree limb.  He paddled under the tree, stood up, tipping the boat often but not completely over, and retrieved his lure.  He was not wearing a life jacket.  The water temperature there was 57 degrees.  The water depth was about 10 feet.  I know, because we fish there often. 

We stayed close, watching him, in case he fell in.  I’m surprised he didn’t. 

The spring creek behind our house maintains a constant temperature of 58 degrees, mostly year round.  Even during the heat of the summer, when we jump in, it takes your breath away.

My advice to him would be, “wear your life jacket”.  He was close to shore, and he probably would have survived, even if we were not there to help, unless he hit is head on something. 

I’ve heard, a large percentage of anglers, who drown, do so at the marina.  They slip trying to get into their boat, hit their head, then slide into the water unconscious. Another deadly mishap, occurs when the angler is relieving himself off the boat.  I’m using the gender term “him”, because women don’t usually do it that way.  A friend of mine in Nashville, drowned doing just that. 

So, wear your life jacket at the boat dock, and have a 2-gallon pee bucket in your boat.  Both men and women can use the 2-gallon pee bucket.  Men can get by with a 1-gallon bucket.  You will be much safer. Rinse the pee bucket out in the lake when you are finished.  You can do that sitting down.

I just don’t understand the desire to stand up in a kayak.  To me, that defeats the purpose.  We have 2 fishing kayaks and we love fishing from them.  I like that low profile.  You can get so close to fish and they don’t see you.  They are quiet too.  If you stand up to fish, it seems to me, you lose that low profile advantage.  And, you are much more likely to fall out.  In my way of simple thinking, boats are for standing and kayaks are for sitting. 

I’ve been a boat owner for over 50 years.  I’ve seen it all.  I’ve done most of the dangerous things and survived. I have watched two people drown, and was not close enough to help.  I’ve seen some bad accidents, most of them on the Kentucky River. 

Jack and I, and our guide, almost sank a flats boat in the gulf a few years ago.  It was not a self bailing boat, water came over the bow, and the bilge pump was clogged. There was a lot of stuff floating around in that boat, but I didn’t see one life jacket. 

Boats are not dangerous.  Boaters are.  I take that back.  I watched a boat, driving in circles, at full throttle once, and there were no boaters in the boat.  They got thrown out.  So, in that case, boats are dangerous.  That boat finally crashed and sank.  Both boaters survived.  That was before we had kill switches.  I think they should call them survival switches.  Use your kill switch or they won’t work.

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

Byron Begley
April 9, 2015

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