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 6:22 am, the temperature is 41 degrees.  This will be a chilly week until the weekend.  We’ll probably get some rain.  There is a good chance tomorrow and Thursday.  The chance for rain Friday is lower.  The weekend will be gorgeous. Next week will be very warm.  Fishing should be excellent, all day in the mountains, next week.  Having said that, excellent fishing does depend on the water levels.  I can’t predict that right now.

Little River is flowing at 279 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.13 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 245 cfs.  The water temperature this morning is 52.2 degrees.

Fishing has been very good in the Smokies.  Hatches are heavy and we’re seeing more light colored bugs on the water. 

David Knapp, a professional guide who works in the Smokies sent me an update yesterday.  He is a very alert and experienced angler and guide.  Here is what he told me:

“I've been seeing lots of cream and yellow now. Light Cahills, Sulfurs, and Pale Evening duns have all been hatching and range from about a size #12 to a size #16 or #18. Lots of Yellow Sallies are showing up as well. There are still a few Hendrickson spinners around.

My client yesterday was surprised at how long you can stay in one pool and catch trout. He figured that after a fish or two the rest would be spooked, but the hatches are so good that you can stay in one spot and catch several fish. Cloudy days are definitely best now and keep the hatches spread out over a longer period of time, but I'm seeing bugs on sunny days as well, especially as the shadows lengthen and the sun starts to be off of the water.”

Check out David’s website by CLICKING HERE.  His website is kept up to date, with great fishing reports and photography.  David is a great asset to our sport and a guide I highly recommend.  He is guiding some of our customers today, in the Park.

Our trout tailwaters, namely Clinch and Holston Rivers have been fishing well.  TVA is generating less.  I’m looking at the Norris Lake elevation right now.  Below that dam is flows the Clinch River.  The lake level is at the top of the expected elevation range at 1,019 feet above sea level.  The same is true of Cherokee Lake.  Below Cherokee Dam is the trout section of the Holston River.  Cherokee’s lake level is at the top of the expected elevation range at 1,063 feet.  That lake will be raised higher by Memorial Day, the beginning of the recreation boating season.

Fort Loudoun and Tellico Lakes are lower than last week.  When Jack and I fished there, last week, the level was slightly over 812 feet elevation.  Today it is 811.4 feet.  Full pool at those lakes is 813 feet.  Fort Loudoun Dam is scheduled to be generating all day, today.

If you want to see some great pictures of bear cubs, look at this story on WBIR’s website by CLICKING HERE.  The story features our own, Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR), a non-profit organization that takes in orphaned cubs, and raises them to be released later this year, back into the wild.  These folks and their many passionate volunteers, do great work.  The raising facility is hidden, near our house.  Visitors are not welcome at that site.  The bears need to be kept away from people, so they don’t become humanized, causing problems later, after release.

I’ve been told it costs $3,500 to raise a bear.  ABR relies on donations and fundraising events to operate.  There is an ABR Visitors Center located at Trillium Cove, a shopping center next to our shop in Townsend.  Stop by there and meet the people who run this organization. 

Right now, ABR is raising three tiny cubs.  I’ve seen times when they had over 20 cubs at once.  Kathy Wilbanks and Tom Faulkner are friends of mine who help manage this facility.  They work tirelessly with other staff and volunteers to save these beautiful animals.  Without their intervention, the bear cubs would die.

Paula and I had the opportunity many years ago, to actually hold a black bear cub like you see in these photos.  It was an experience I will never forget.  Even at that age, they have huge claws.  Last year, we saw an older cub, about the size of a medium size dog, digging a hole near our back door, just 10 or 15 feet from our house. It is amazing what these animals can do with their feet and think about this, they’ve got four of them.  Even worse, they can bite through your arm or leg.  My advice is, stay away from bears. We’ve got them running around here.  We stay away from them and they stay away from us.  

The Make a Break Thru for Cystic Fibrosis sporting clays tournament was held this weekend at the Chilhowee Sportsmen’s Club.  Around 500 participants shot in the annual event this year.  During the past 12 years, they have raised over $1.5 million for cystic fibrosis.

I tell myself every year, I’ll start shooting at the club but it hasn’t happened yet.  First, I’m a terrible shot.  That doesn’t matter to me.  I’m not competitive, except in business.  Second, all I seem to think about is fishing.  If you are vacationing in Townsend or Walland, bring your shotgun.  Go to the Chilhowee Sportsmen’s Club and shoot.  The people there are very helpful and the facility is great, from what I hear.  My understanding is, you can shoot sporting clays, skeet and 5 stand.  Visitors are welcome.

To get there you will probably drive across the Foothills Parkway which is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Rangers are sensitive to carrying shotguns or rifles through there and for a good reason, wildlife is almost always present.  Poaching is a concern.  I was told by the Park Service, to break down my shotgun, keep it in the back of my Suburban, and store the shells somewhere else in the truck.  That way, I would not be considered a poaching suspect.   

Also, if you are vacationing here, and you like lake fishing or boating, bring your boat.  We have so many lakes around here, it’s hard to decide where to fish or cruise.  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Valley Authority have boat ramps on all the lakes.  We have many marinas.  I don’t know what weekends are like.  I don’t fish on weekends.  During the week, I’ve found the lakes are underutilized and I hardly see anyone else.  Tellico and Fort Loudoun are close to here.  Douglas, Cherokee and Norris are not far away.  There are other lakes nearby. I’ve heard the lakes are crowded on weekends, after Memorial Day, through July.  Jack and I fished on two different lakes one day last week.  We saw two boats and one kayak.  That was it!

I was talking to a man yesterday in the shop.  We were having a good time and I enjoyed him very much.  He told me he wanted to buy the Knucklehead selection we sell.  Those are the flies I tie for the shop.  I soon discovered, we sold out of them Sunday.  I told the man I had 52 dozen at home, and if he was willing to wait 10 minutes, I would go get some.  I drove home, grabbed 3 dozen, then returned to the shop.  He bought the selection and we were both happy. It seems I need to tie a lot of Knucleheads this week.  I would like to keep 60 dozen in stock at our house.  That way, I know what I have and hopefully won’t get into a pinch when the warmwater fishing picks up soon around here. I have yet to have 60 dozen sitting on my tying bench right here, this year.   

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

Byron Begley
April 28, 2015

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