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 6:43 am, it is overcast and 67 degrees. 

Little River is flowing at 235 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.97 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 216 cfs.  The water temperature is 62.1 degrees.  Yesterday, the temperature peaked at 66 degrees.

After midnight, a thunderstorm dropped rain in the Little River watershed and others.  The flow gauge shot straight up to 2.25 feet, then abruptly fell to its current level and it is still falling.  Judging from the USGS gauge chart, the rise was sudden.  I suspect the river was stained at the time, but it has probably cleared by now.

The same thing happened at Cattalochee Creek and Tellico River. It also happened at Oconoluftee, 24 hours earlier. We are going to see more isolated thunderstorms in the Smokies, usually happening late in the day, affecting one watershed and maybe not others. 

Mark and Betsy commented on this same topic Friday.  They have a home in Gatlinburg, with a panoramic view of the Smokies.  They can see these small storms form and move, then disappear in different places from their perch.  This is a temperate rain forest and scattered storms like this are common during the warm months.    

Fishing is good in the Smokies.  Though the water has been low, it doesn’t mean fishing is bad.  It means fishing is different.  You have to adjust your tactics.  That means, being careful not to be seen by the trout.  Low water requires stepping down to a smaller tippet diameter.  You focus your attention to riffles and choppy water.  Trout move to areas that have a broken water surface to remain hidden from predators, when the water is low.  If you change your tactics you will catch plenty of trout.

Until the water warms further, fishing will remain good.  I didn’t like the temperature peak we saw yesterday, 66 degrees in lower Little River.  As the temperatures rise during the upcoming warmer days we’ll see this Summer, moving to higher elevations, where the water is colder, is yet another tactic. 

Warm water reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen.  Trout don’t like that.  Also, warm water increases their need for food as their metabolism cranks up.  During periods of drought, trout mortality is not caused by the lack of oxygen in the high gradient streams we have in the mountains, according to Park fisheries biologists.  They die, because their body needs more food, which is not available, so they starve to death.  Matt Kulp told me that one year when we had an awful drought and rainbow trout perished right before our eyes in the low to mid elevations.

If you go today, use a yellow to cream colored dry fly, one that resembles a Yellow Sally Stonefly or a Sulphur mayfly.  Fishing will be best in the evenings.  You will probably encounter large hatches of Yellow Sallies, just before dark.  The second best time to go would be right now.

Paula and I plan to fish mid Tellico Lake Wednesday and Thursday.  We’ll launch at Tellico Marina.  We have a membership there that allows us to use their facilities, including the ramp.  That is one beautiful marina.  The harbormaster, Rodney Phillips is a friend of mine.  He’s a great guy and runs a tight ship.  CLICK HERE to check out their website.  Rodney told me yesterday, all slips in the marina are rented. That’s good news, sort of.  

If we decide to leave the boat there overnight, it may be a problem.  They don’t have any covered slips available for rent.  We don’t have an automatic bilge pump.  I asked Rodney in an e-mail if we could just park the boat and trailer there for a fee overnight, if we are fishing two days in a row.  I have not heard back from him.  I guess I could install an automatic bilge pump, then tie her up at an uncovered dock.  I’ll probably do that. 

The reason for leaving it, is not having to tow the boat back home, then back to the marina the next morning.  The marina is an hour drive from our home.  The road winds along the Little Tennessee River.  Motorcycles fly by doing 100 plus miles per hour.

Last night I decided to check the wheel bearings on the boat trailer.  I jacked up the starboard side and gave the wheel a spin.  It was very quiet and smooth.  I did the same thing on the port side and heard a grinding noise.  Uh oh!

I know for a fact, John, my trailer guy is busy.  I stopped in last week to get him to crimp some wiring on the boat. He couldn’t do it.  So, I learned how to do it myself.  I’ve never dealt with wheel hubs, bearings, seals, races and spindles.  In fact, most of those terms were foreign to me until last night. 

I got on the internet and watched two videos about pulling hubs and replacing bearings.  After my orientation, I went down to the boat house and pulled the hub.  Tomorrow I’ll try to find the parts and have the boat ready by Wednesday, I hope. 

I went to bed late.  Lying there, I heard a noise, like someone was breaking into our house.  I keep a loaded .357 magnum handgun on my bedside table.  I thought about taking it downstairs and looking around.  I heard the noise again.  I waited for a while, heard nothing more, then went to sleep.  I wish I had come down here.

This morning I was making coffee and looked out the back door.  The wood platform bird feeder had been ripped off the 4 x 4 post.  Wood screws were sticking out of the wood joint I made to hold the feeder on the post.  The platform feeder was laying on the ground next to the steps.  It was a prototype anyway.  I have 4 more under construction in the workshop.

There is only one animal that could have done that.  The feeder was 6 feet from the ground.  A black bear visited us last night.  I knew, it was only a matter of time.  I put a few handfuls of sunflower seeds in the feeder every morning.  What the birds don’t finish off, the huge raccoon does.  The feeder is squirrel proof, but not raccoon proof.  Early last night, Josh Pfeiffer called.  While we were talking I told him, a raccoon was in our bird feeder, 10 feet away.  Paula walked up to the glass door, opened it, and the raccoon climbed down a ran away.  He left some seeds for the bear.

So, no more bird feeding until next Winter.  I’ll still throw some seed on the ground, only enough to be consumed during the day, but the feeder will be in the basement tonight.

I’m planning to tie Knuckleheads today, and go to the shop to pay bills. 

This might be a very good day to fish in the Park.  More isolated thunderstorms are expected this afternoon.

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

Byron Begley
May 10, 2015

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