Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  The sky is blue  in some directions but dark clouds are hanging over Townsend, Tennessee reminding us about what is headed our way.  The big storm has missed us so far.  As much as 12” of rain has fallen in middle and west Tennessee causing flooding problems, really bad flooding problems.  And they say we’ll get a taste of that here, maybe four inches of rain tonight.  Some storms may be severe.  But right now, it is warm, very windy and fairly clear.

A flood in the Smokies could be detrimental to the rainbow trout spawn.  The fry are not large enough to endure very high water.  I hope that doesn’t happen.  The outcome could be a loss of an entire age class of rainbows.  As anglers we would notice larger trout and less of them next year.  That has happened several times since I’ve lived here.  To some anglers it is a good thing, to others it is a bad thing.

Daniel fished on the West Prong last night after work.  I think he said he caught 8 trout.  He caught some on stimulators and some on nymphs.  He noticed some larger light colored mayflies that he thinks might be Light Cahills.  The Yellow Sally stoneflies were larger than the variety that hatches in the summer.  So, go with a #14 Stimulator or #14 Yellow Sally pattern to match the hatch.  Fishing is probably best in the evenings right now but that won’t be an issue if we get this storm.  Not tonight for sure.  We’ll see about the next few evenings. 

Don’t go out on the lakes today.  That’s the last place you want to be if this thing really happens. 

I have spent much of my life on a boat.  I spent many summers living on a houseboat or cruiser.  As a teenager I spent almost every day during weekends on a boat in the warmer months.  Sometimes I would even sleep on a boat and go to school the next day.  One thing I learned after many lessons and close calls, wind on a lake can kill you without adequate precautions and planning.  Even with every kind of safety equipment known to man a storm in a small craft can result in the loss of equipment and maybe the boat.  One can easily end up spending several hours in the water after an accident either on a lake or in the ocean.  During much of the year, depending on where you are, hypothermia is your worst enemy. 

So, be that as it may, don’t go out on the lakes today.  Some of our coldwater lakes are just that, cold. 

On our boat we have new safety precautions.  First, I won’t drive under power without the kill switch lanyard attached to my life jacket.  If I go overboard, the engine stops.  Frank and I were fishing last week in a very remote area and I couldn’t get the engine to start.  Finally he figured out that I had accidentally pulled the kill switch lanyard from the motor. 

Second, we have some new life jackets that inflate automatically should you be submerged 4” under water.  This is a fairly new system called Hydrostatic Inflation Technology (HIT) or something like that.  They are comfortable, you don’t know you are wearing them and if you fall in they will inflate.  We wear them when we are fishing even if the motor isn’t running.  I’ve seen people fall out of boats even when they are not under way.  I’ve fallen out of boats so many times I can’t remember all the circumstances.  Usually it was when the boat was stopped.  

With the kill switch attached and always wearing a life jacket, the chances of you getting seriously injured or dying drops to almost zero in a lake.  So, you get thrown out, the motor stops, your life jacket inflates and you swim a few feet back to the boat.  Your only real potential problem is someone else in another boat running over you.   Or, your boat can get swamped in cold water and you are stuck far from shore or for a long time. We don’t want that to happen. So, don’t go out on the lakes today.

Johnny Hicks and I were running around Herrington Lake in Kentucky one day when we were kids.   We noticed we were taking on water.  The boat was an inboard ski craft.  Herrington is a deep lake and this was an expensive boat.  We didn’t want to be swimming and watching it sink to the depths below, which average about 160 feet if I remember correctly.  We decided to run to the marina, wide open.  By the time we got there and pulled up to the dock the boat was almost ready to go under.  Dock staff helped us tie it off and nothing happened.  Water stopped pouring in.  The boat was pumped out and floated back up.  It turns out the freeze plug in the engine popped out.  The faster we drove, the more water was pumped into the boat.  Had we stopped in the middle of the lake and been towed in we would not have had a problem or almost lose that boat.  Weird things happen on boats. 

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

Byron Begley
May 2, 2010

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