Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is cloudy and 63 degrees in Townsend this morning.  We continue to experience very warm days.  The high today should be around 80 degrees.

Fishing conditions in the Smoky Mountains and all along the Southern Appalachians are excellent for trout fishing.  I don’t see how it could be better.  The water levels are slightly above normal and the water temperature is perfect. 

Little River is flowing at 265 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.17 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 219 cfs.  The water temperature is 58 degrees at 7:55 am.  What could be better than this?  Nothing.

Trout are taking dry flies, mostly light colored mayflies and Yellow Sally stonefly patterns.  They are feeding on caddis.  I would use olive, tan or yellow caddis.  Fishing will be best just before dark but it is also good during the day.  Cloudy days will be better.  Today may be cloudy, it is right now.

We have a chance for thunderstorms every day through the weekend.  That’s normal.  These warm temperatures bring on the scattered storms.  As you probably know, we have had a ton of rain this year.  Rainfall is way above normal.  That will pay off for us later this Summer.  The water table is high and that is what we want to see at this point.

Paula and I fished on the Little Tennessee River yesterday.  The water temperature there was 52 degrees in some areas.  The smallmouth bass were deep.  We ran into Doug and David.  Dave caught 2 smallies using a sink tip line. Paula didn’t fish because of her elbow problem.  I caught 3 rock bass and that was it.  We found some 62 degree water too.  That is a 10-degree swing. That river is too cold right now.  The reason it is cold is due to excessive generation at the dams.

At one point the four of us held our boats together in deep water and just drifted and talked.  Dave spotted something that turned out to be a carp.  Then we saw some huge carp cruising.  Doug and I tried everything trying to catch them.  They were not interested.

Our conversation turned to Silver Carp.  Those are the big fish that jump out of the water 8 feet or higher.  They strike boaters, jet skiers and water skiers.  People have been hurt by these big fish.  I found a story about a young woman who was shooting them with a bow and arrow.  One jumped out of the water, hit her in the face and broke her jaw.

These fish were originally imported from China and were used here to keep catfish farm ponds clean.  They are filter feeders.  The eat plankton.  Silver carp are also very prolific.  They spawn up to three times per year.  You would think their young would be perfect baitfish for predators like bass or other sportfish.  The problem is, silver carp grow to 12” long their first year.

Flooding eventually released this exotic species into the watersheds in the Midwest United States.  They have spread North and South, threatening the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and now, the Tennessee River.  Silver carp have no natural enemy.  They will most likely become populated in many of our rivers and lakes.  Wherever there are locks on rivers, these fish can migrate through.  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has acknowledged the existence of the silver carp in Tennessee.  This is not good news.  They have been found in Kentucky Lake.  I even read they were in Reelfoot Lake.  I don’t know how that happened.

Other than the chance they can jump in your boat and knock you out, the problem that bothers me most is they compete with other filter feeders.  They compete with shad.  They compete with paddlefish.  They compete with shellfish.  They compete with young sport fish.  Any organism that feeds on plankton is in peril.  Lot of organisms in our waters rely on plankton for food.  Our sport fish rely on those that feed on plankton, especially shad.

Doug mentioned the theory yesterday that these exotics could invade Little River.  They could.  Little River empties into the Tennessee River.  Heck, these fish could be there now.  They must be in Tellico Lake where we fish.  Tellico Lake is connected to Fort Loudoun Lake, which is the Tennessee River. 

Silver carp are edible.  They are probably considered a delicacy somewhere.  You can buy silver carp in markets in New York.  If I find one and can kill it, I’m going to eat it.  And, if it tastes good, I’m going to tell everyone I know.  I bet Paula could cook a silver carp and make it taste great.  These things need to be over-harvested.  In fact, if you do happen to catch one you are supposed to kill it.  Commercial fishing could help control the species if we they can learn to catch them.  I bet they would make great cat food. 

Fisheries biologists are working on this.  They even installed electro shocking equipment on the Chicago River, hoping to keep these fish out of Lake Michigan.  I don’t think it is working very well.

If you want to get rid of something, find a way to make money selling it.  When that happens, we’ll figure out a way to keep them under control.

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

Byron Begley
May 16, 2013  

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com

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