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 6:19 am, the sky is clear and the temperature is 62 degrees.  Though the moon is not full, it was bright earlier this morning.  I woke about 4 am, and thought I had slept longer than usual.  It appeared to be daybreak outside. 

Today, the high temperature will be in the mid-80’s and there is a 10% chance for thunderstorms.  The forecast is similar, through the weekend.

A small thunderstorm moved into the area last night.  I could hear thunder, but the storm missed our house.  Somewhere in the Little River watershed, the storm dropped some rain.  Little River rose during the night, and is now falling.

Currently, flow is 178 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.79 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 238 cfs.  The water temperature is 60.8 degrees this morning.

During the past 7 days, the water level has dropped from a little over 2 feet to 1.78 feet or 270 cfs to 178 cfs.  Though the level is only down about 3 inches from a week ago, it does amount to a considerable decrease in flow, measured in cfs.

Fishing is good due to the water temperature.  Temperatures vary during the day and yesterday, it varied in Little River from 59 degrees in the morning to 63 degrees late in the day.  Those are all good numbers for trout.  They are active and feeding.  Dissolved oxygen levels are good.  When the water temperature rises to 70 degrees, things change.  Colder water holds plenty of dissolved oxygen.  Warmer water does not.

We should get through the weekend without much rain.  If we get some, it will be in the form of late afternoon thunderstorms.  Rain is likely Monday and possibly Tuesday, if the weather forecast holds true.

Use dry flies about anywhere in the Park and you will do well.  My choice would be a Yellow Neversink Caddis, a dry fly that is our best seller.  That is one great dry fly, that works very well in the Smokies from late Spring through early Fall.  Other dry fly patterns will produce well, maybe just as well. 

The Neversink is a killer fly and probably always will be.  Yellow has always been a productive fly color, for many decades, dating back to the Yellowhammer, a fly tied from the wing feather of a flicker.  Most locals think, the reason yellow works so well in the Smokies is, we have so many Little Yellow Sally Stoneflies, for a long period of time, on the water.  They are here to day and will last until Fall.

This will be a good weekend to fish in the Smokies.  With the lower than normal water flows, you will need to stay hidden from the trout.  Wear muted clothing.  Don’t cast a shadow on the water.  Be sneaky.  Stay low.

Our home is totally surrounded by thousands of trees on 10 acres I bought in the late 1980’s.  I was single then and decided to build a home here, moving from Nashville to the Smoky Mountains.  I had three building sites to choose from.  One overlooks a spring creek in the woods.  I would have been able to hear a riffle and see the flowing water from that house that was not built. 

The second option, was in a small field, with a view of the mountains that border Cades Cove.  At that location, the mountains would have been visible, year round.

Close-by, is Old Cades Cove Road.  Settlers used that road to travel to and from Cades Cove to Townsend, on horseback and in wagons.  Behind that house, that was not built, is the crossing.  The early settlers had to cross Short Creek.  They stopped at the mill to have their corn ground.  The mill dam was originally made from logs.  Mr. McCambell replaced the log dam with a concrete structure, which still stands.  Crossing the creek, during periods of high water, would have been practically impossible.  They probably waited for the water to recede, at the cabin next to the old road.  The cabin is gone.  Our barn stands there now. The barn was built to look like a typical Appalachian cabin, with a porch and windows.  The 10’ tall garage door, can’t be seen from our main road.      

I chose option three, in the forest, on a hilltop, with hardwoods growing above and all around.  During the warmer months, we can’t see out, and nobody can see us.  The home is hidden in the trees.  Our third level porch floor is about 22 feet from the ground.  Up there we can barely see the mountains during the warm months. 

We are in that period now.  The house is shaded and invisible to anyone who is not on our property.  I like it this way best.  I like living in the trees.  During the winter, the leaves are gone, and we see the mountains from almost every room.  That is especially nice, when there is snow on the peaks.  Still, I love the setting we have right now, living in the forest, in the trees, with no view other than trees and wildlife.  Yesterday morning, after finishing this report, I turned around and looked into the forest.  A large deer, was standing there, looking in at me.  He was probably 50 feet away. Paula came down the steps from the top floor.  He either saw or heard her and took off.

The shop is busy and I’ll be there part of the day, doing bookkeeping chores.  I think Dan and Daniel will be working today.  Paul may be there too.  I don’t know who works when.  That’s not my job.  I’ll find out when I run the payroll Monday.  I don’t run the shop anymore.  I’m not the boss.  I got tired of that after 42 years of being the boss. Our shop is only 20 years old.  I was in another business for 22 years before this one. 

The boat project is over.  Actually, they say it is never over.  Yesterday, I pushed it out of the boat house and climbed in.  I turned on the new chart plotter.  A map appeared on the monitor.  An icon, indicated the boat’s exact location, in Dry Valley, near Townsend, and near Laurel Lake.  I was able to scroll over to some lakes in our area.  I zoomed in and saw the lake features and depths.  A line of numbers appeared to the left of the map.  I can tell what speed we’re traveling, how deep the water is, the water temperature, and the time, plus something called COG. I’ll have to read up on that. Maybe that stands for “cost of goods”.  I hope not.  

I can change the view and also see what the lake bottom looks like below, in high definition 3-D.  On the map, when the boat is moving, the icon changes to that of a boat with the bow pointing in the direction of travel.  I can see where I’m heading and all the information I need to avoid running aground in shallow water. You can also see fish.  I don’t want to see fish or the lack thereof.  That would take the fun out of fishing.

If I’m fishing from the bow, there is another depth finder up there, close to the trolling motor.  I can see the depth, what the bottom looks like and what the water temperature is. 

It doesn’t have to stop here.  I can add radar, to track boats, land, storms, flocks of birds and shore, at night or in dense fog.  I won’t buy that feature.  I can add mapping, so I can make my own maps of waters that are not charted.  For a small fortune more, a weather radar module can be added.  You can see storms coming. That might be handy but beyond my budget.  That also has a steep monthly fee attached.  I know what you are thinking.  You can also do that on your smart phone.  I don’t have a smart phone. Where we fish most of the time, there is no cell service. 

I can add Sirrus Radio.  No thanks.  I’ve never had music on a boat.  That masks the sound of the water. I talked to someone recently, who went backpacking, and camped on Little River above Elkmont.  He took a tiny Bose speaker so he and everyone else could listen to iTunes from his cell phone.  I don’t get that.     

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

Byron Begley
May 8, 2015

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