Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fly Fishing Report from Townsend, Tennessee.  It is overcast and 44 degrees.  We did not get any frost in the valley.  Townsend is quiet this morning.  I saw a few cars on my way to work but I can tell by looking at the motels, most of the visitors have departed until Friday.  Everyone is telling us the campgrounds were full in the Park this weekend.  Camping is a huge activity in our town and in the Smokies.  Campers are out in force.  So are fishermen.  Yesterday we were covered up at the shop all day.  I barely was able to get our e-newsletter mailed. 

The water temperature in Little River took the plunge last night.  At 7:55 am this morning the water temp was 47.5 degrees.  The high water temperature yesterday was 51.2 degrees.  Flow is good in the river.  Right now the recorded discharge below the confluence of the three prongs is 265 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 234 cfs.  By discharge I don’t mean there is a dam controlling the flow.  Discharge is another term for flow used by the USGS.

We are expecting rain and much warmer temperatures starting tonight.  It looks like we will be back in the 80’s by Friday with highs in the high 70’s before that.  Today will be cool.  Rain and thunderstorms will persist most of the week.

The colder water didn’t stop Gary Troutman from having a good day fishing for smallmouth bass in the lowland rivers.  Check out his photos on our message board HERE.  These pictures were taken yesterday and you can see snow on the mountains in the background.  He was using streamers.  Smallmouth bass have been hitting poppers and other surface flies.  The colder temperatures put an end to that.

I didn’t talk to any returning fly fishers who hit the Park yesterday so I don’t know what the cooler water did to the fishing activity up there.  My guess is, it slowed down.  Day before yesterday, Sunday, the fishing was excellent.  Jack said Anthony caught a big brown in Little River.  I can’t remember the size.  It was probably between 21” and 24”.  If the fish was over 24”, Jack would have made a strong point about the size.  It took 20 minutes to land the fish and Jack had to wade into the river and splash around so the fish would not run downstream into the run.  Jack doesn’t use a net.  He says fishing without one makes it more interesting.

Fly choices for the Park would be Yellow Sally Imitations, Parachute Adams, Light Cahills, Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulators, Bead Head Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Tellico Nymphs and Copper Johns.

Fly choices for the lowland rivers and lakes would be Puglisi Threadfin Shad, Wooly Buggers, Crawfish Patterns or other baitfish patterns.  After the warm rain raises the water temperatures, the smallmouth bass will be taking surface flies again.

I sent out several thousand newsletters and you can see the web version HERE.  Check out the story about tying the Puglisi Threadfin Shad.  I put this story together to help anglers catch more fish.  Even if you don’t tie flies you should see this.

I started playing around with Puglisi fibers about 10 years ago.  Using a book called The Fishes of Tennessee, I tried and successfully tied some killer baitfish patterns.  Frank, Brad and I hired some guides to float us down the Cumberland River at about that time and before the trip I came up with this Threadfin fly.  I took two on the trip with me.  On the second day of fishing from drift boats, fishing slowed a bit.  I decided to try one of the shad patterns.  I immediately started catching brown trout and some big guys followed it.  I don’t think I caught anything over 20” but the action produced by this fly was astounding.  At the end of the day my guide asked me to give him one. 

During our tarpon fishing days I came up with a pinfish pattern.  On another slow day I decided to give one a try.  Our guide said he didn’t think the fly would work.  It did.  The first big tarpon that came through the slot ate the fly.  I jumped two more tarpon later on the same fly.  I can’t remember if we actually landed one.  But, there were always several of these in my box on tarpon fishing trips after that one and they always worked in clear water.

I’ve caught about everything you can think of on this threadfin shad pattern.  That fly has successfully caught rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcrackers, crappie and carp.  Last year, Paula and I were fishing on Dale Hollow Lake.  I was stripping a large version on using a sinking fly line.  I hooked what I thought might be a world record smallie on the fly.  The fish turned out to be a 8 pound flathead catfish.  It put up a heck of a fight and destroyed my fly.  It was worth it.

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

Byron Begley
April 24, 2012

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