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 foggy and 44 degrees this morning.  This is the coldest morning we have had in a while.  The high today should reach 75 degrees so fishing won’t be affected much.  But, as I found out again this week, fishing is not predictable. 

Little River is flowing slow and low for this time of year.  Flow is currently 179 cubic feet per second.  Median flow for this date is 237 cfs.  The water temperature was a chilly 55.5 degrees at 7:40 am.

We are in for a slight warming trend and plenty of rain over the next few days.  Today will be clear.  We have a 40% chance for rain tomorrow, then a 70% chance on Sunday.  It will probably rain on Monday too.  We could use the rain.  Though we are ahead of normal for the year, it has been a bit dry lately. 

The Park is fishing fairly well.  I think this cold front might have slowed things down.  But, for now the water is low.  And right now the water is chilly.  If you go today nymphs might work best early.  Then, switch to dries later.  I would use a lighter tippet than what you have been due to the low clear water.  You will probably get more strikes using 6X tippet.

Fly selection is wide and varied.  Most importantly is presentation and stealth under these conditions.  You will need to stay hidden, make short casts and get a good drift.  If you fly is not moving at the same speed  as the current it is in, they trout are going to give you a hard day.  I would choose any Yellow Sally Stonefly imitation.  It could be a Neversink Caddis or small Yellow Stimulator.  There are many choices for the Yellow Sally.  They all seem to work.

I’ve been out of touch for a few days so I don’t know much about what is going on in the fishing world except for mine.  I have fished all day, 3 out of the last 4 days on the Little Tennessee River.  Fishing was good for smallmouth bass on Monday.  They were taking Knuckleheads on the surface well.  Frank came down to fish with me for two days.  And, the fishing was slow for us and everyone else except for the walleye fishermen.  We were only using foam bugs.  I tried a couple of streamers for a few casts and even hooked one fish briefly.  But, we wanted to catch them on top.

Yesterday I caught three nice smallmouth bass early.  Frank had not caught one fish.  The day before he shut me out so maybe he deserved a slow day.  We endured rain most of the day Wednesday and lots of wind on Thursday.

Then at 2:15 pm, after making thousands of casts all day he had a bass sip his fly off the surface.  When he set the hook the bass jumped out of the water.  We were both convinced he had a nice largemouth bass.  I ran the boat away from shore.  A fallen tree we were near would surely cause him to lose that fish.  Out in deep water the battle was on.  I told Frank that couldn’t be a largemouth.  It would have given up by now. 

Finally, I got the fish in the net and handed it to him.  It was a nice smallmouth.  We actually weighed this one.  It tipped the scales at 4 1/8 pounds. 

That’s the Little Tennessee for you.  You can go fishless all day then catch a nice one.  Of course, you can go fishless all day and not catch a nice one too. I was talking to a TWRA wildlife officer on the ramp Wednesday morning.  We were both lamenting the fact that you can get skunked here though you are fishing hard.  He said it, like others have said it.  The problem is the lack of nutrients.

Further downstream, where the Tellico River joins the Little T the nutrient load changes.  The Tellico River runs through farmland.  Fishing can be excellent down there.  Of course, there are a lot more fishermen and boats in the lower stretches.  

After making several thousand casts, standing in the boat all day for three days, I’m exhausted.  I got enough fishing in this week to last me for at least another week.

Everywhere I go on lakes around here, you hardly ever see anyone fly fishing. That was not the case on Wednesday.  Rufus and his buddy were in one boat and Doug was fishing in his.  We were all fly fishing.

Normally, you just don’t see fly anglers on the lakes.  And, I always get comments from the other fishermen on the ramps.  They seem surprised at our long rods and interested at the same time.  They usually say, “I bet that is fun”. 

I talked to a father and son who fished near us a couple of times yesterday. We were back at the ramp pulling our boats out.  They found a bobcat swimming across the lake.  They drove up to it and watched from a short distance away.  The dad joked about dipping the cat out of the water with his net.  I told him I would like to have seen him do that from a distance.  Can you imagine what would have happened?     

Next weekend is Troutfest.  I’ve got a lot of work to do here.  We all do.

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

Byron Begley
May 11, 2012 

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