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 5:56 am and dark outside.  The temperature is 56 degrees.  I went out and stood on a deck.  There were no sounds.  The sky is lit by a bright moon.  I can see brilliant stars in the sky.  Many stars are blocked by clouds.  I can tell, a front is moving in.  We are in for a rainy week, every day.  The chances for rain are 60% to 90%. 

Little River is flowing lower than normal at 279 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.13 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 299 cfs.  The water temperature is 57.2 degrees this morning.  You could not ask for better fishing conditions in the Smokies.  It is perfect right now.

Trout are taking dry flies or nymphs, whatever you prefer.  Fly choices are not as important as presentation.  If your fly is drifting correctly, with the current, the trout will bite.  I would suggest a Parachute Adams, size #14 or #16.  An Elk Hair Caddis or Stimulator will work.  Try a Yellow Neversink Caddis.  For nymphs, you can’t beat a Pheasant Tail, Prince, Hare’s Ear or Tellico.  Green and Pink Weenies should produce well for you.  What these fish want now is food.

The approaching front may slow the fishing or maybe it won’t.  It’s hard to say.  With the rain in the forecast, we don’t know what the stream levels will do this week.  They could be high at times.  It depends on how much rain falls in the mountains.  The weather websites are tight lipped about the amount of rain we will get.  One suggests ½” Wednesday.  I don’t see any other numbers quoted. 

Today’s generation schedule for the Clinch River indicates full generation all day.  The schedule for the Holston, below Cherokee Dam looks the same.

Paula and I are trying to plan a day or two on the lake this week.  It’s hard to decide which days to give it a try.  Wind probably won’t be an issue.  Sitting in a boat, in the rain might be.  We’re thinking we may have to be ready to go at a moments notice.  I made it a point, to make absolutely no time commitments, day or night, in April or May.  I don’t want to miss that perfect fishing day, with light wind and clouds.  So, for the next 6 weeks, I’m always ready to go fishing.

Jack called last night.  He and Joe had a big day on Fort Loudoun Lake.  He said they caught hundreds of fish.  Many were white bass.  They also caught largemouth and smallmouth bass.  He caught a huge gar.  They tired of catching them.  Jack switched to a spinning rod at one point, because his arm was tired.  I’ve fished with Jack many times.  He doesn’t get tired of fishing, or I’ve never seen that happen.  Usually, I’m begging him to quit.  I’m worn out and he wants to fish more.

With that in mind, Jack and I re-built the boat this winter.  We added a trolling motor on the bow, with a casting deck.  Now, there is a trolling motor on the bow and the stern.  The boat has very comfortable seating.  So, if I get tired, he can fish from the bow and control the boat from there.  I can relax in the stern, in comfort, watching him catch fish. 

It is now dawn.  I went outside again.  The birds are singing.  I can see the mountains on our side of Cades Cove. There are dark clouds over the Cove.  It may be raining there.

I can’t say enough good things about Optima AGM batteries.  The two batteries in the boat are 6 years old and still running strong.  I believe one of them is closer to 8 years old.  I like them so much, I bought one for my truck.

They are not cheap.  I think the Optima D34 M, costs $250 with shipping.  They are supposed to last 10 years under normal use. They are maintenance free, sort of.  To make them last, they need to be hooked to a good charger, one that kicks into maintenance mode, keeping them charged and maintained 24/7, 365. 

The latest rage, is Lithium batteries for boats.  They are light.  By comparison, they are 70% lighter than an Optima AGM.  And, they are supposed to be capable of 10 times the life of an AGM.  The problem is, they cost 4 times as much or more, depending on the brand.  I found one, that is comparable to what I have, for $1,000.  So, to replace ours, it would cost $2,000.

I’m no actuary or statistician.  But, I can do simple arithmetic in my head.  Based on the expected lifetime, and my use, using the history of these batteries I have, they would have a lifetime of 60 years.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?  I would not have to replace the batteries for 60 years.  On top of that, the reduced weight would save fuel and we could go faster.

My dilemma is, I’m almost 64 years old.  I don’t think I’ll be buying $2,000 batteries for the boat.  When I have to, I’ll replace these with more Optima batteries.

I tied 2 dozen Knuckleheads yesterday.  That takes 4 hours including plenty of rest and stretch breaks.  Since January 15th, I’ve tied 888 Knuckleheads.  I’m trying to keep up and ahead of those we sell in the shop and online.  I have a spreadsheet log to track my progress.  My goal is to always have 60 dozen at home, in stock, plus what we have in inventory, at the shop.  As we need more at the shop, I’ll replenish to the 60 dozen level at home.  I probably won’t see that 60 dozen level until next March.  I won’t be able to keep up.  It hasn’t happened yet. 

You know what?  After tying 888, in three months, I’m getting pretty darned good at it.  I don’t try to go fast.  I want to make them look good and be durable.  This little cottage industry is fun for me or I wouldn’t do it.  I could have them tied overseas.  The material cost in a Knuclehead is 27 cents. We have to pay a 32.5 cent Federal Excise Tax on each fly too.  We sell them for $3.25.  I think we’ll sell 4,000 of them this year.  If we sell less, I’ll tie less.  If we sell more, we will run out.

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

Byron Begley
April 13, 2015

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