Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny this morning in Townsend, Tennessee.  It is a beautiful day indeed.  The expected rain pretty much missed us yesterday.  Townsend is kind of quiet this morning though our shop is full of anglers determined to take advantage of the excellent fishing in the Park and everywhere else in East Tennessee.  A week ago at this time we were trying to take care of 30 to 50 customers all at once.  Last weekend was Troutfest Weekend.  About 1,500 anglers visited the event on Saturday.  Many of them were from other regions so motels, campgrounds, cabin rental companies and lodges were doing a “Land Office” business.  I know of several motels who reported being full. 

Little River is barely below normal flow today.  Discharge, measured in cubic feet per second (cfs) is 189.  Median flow for this date, based on 44 years of data is 193 cfs.  A small 12’ x 12’ building that houses the equipment owned by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) computes the flow based on pressure from a probe in the river.  The equipment inside the building is calibrated to compute the flow based on that pressure.  A satellite or several of them collect the data from the equipment and we see the results.  I know the guy who is in charge of that site.  It is an interesting and very important small piece of land located in the Park that allows us the privilege of  viewing this data.  The flow rate is not only important to anglers, it is vital to flood predictions and possible evacuations due to flooding.

Fishing in the Park is excellent.  You will find the evenings to be the best.  Yellow Sallies and Light Cahill are on the water, hatching and laying eggs.  Ralph Shuey was here a few minutes ago and he said his buddies were doing better last night with light colored mayfly emerger patterns than those fishing with dry flies.  He was using soft hackles and did well. 

Many fly patterns will work now including terrestrials.  Still, I would stick to a Yellow Sally or Light Cahill pattern.  Try a #16 Yellow Stimulator or Neversink Caddis.  Drop a nymph or soft hackle off of it.  You should do very will.

Smallmouth bass are turned on, hungry and willing to take a fly.  Ethan McGroom, who works here fished on Little River until dark last night.  He caught some nice smallmouth bass.  The lakes are fishing very well.  You might be tempted to use streamers but some of the foam top water patterns might work better.  Jack and I caught them on top this week. 

The debate to keep Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s new slot limit for smallmouth bass on Norris Lake continues.  As of March 1st, on Norris you are only allowed to keep two smallmouth bass, one under 17 inches and one over 22 inches.  The goal of the Wildlife Commission (TWRC) is to make Norris another Dale Hollow.  Norris has the potential and the slot limit would probably turn that lake into a trophy smallmouth fishery.  This issue is personal to me.  Fly fishing for smallmouth bass is my main sport right now and Norris is very close to my home. 

The problem is, a few legislators in the area think that regulation will hurt business, especially bass tournament business.  And, House Bill HJR1051 directed or urged TWRA to change the regulations back to the old creel limit to 5 bass with a minimum length of 18”.  I may not know all the facts but I think we need to keep politics out of wildlife management as much as possible.  I’ll try to keep an open mind until I learn all the facts.  In every disagreement that TWRA has had with Counties and the State so far, I have always sided with the Agency.  They are professionals.

This bill passed the house (from what I’ve heard) and it will go before the Senate for final approval.  A friend of mine, Joe McCord sponsored the bill.  I know our Senator, Doug Overby too.  I’m going to call him Monday.  Below is the bill.  I think the word “directed” was changed to “urge” before it passed.

Conservation & Environment Committee  1
Amendment No.  1 to HJR1051

Signature of Sponsor

AMEND House Joint Resolution No. 1051* 

by deleting all of the language of the introduced resolution, including its caption, in its entirety and by substituting instead the following:

A RESOLUTION relative to slot/length limits for fish caught on
Norris Lake.

WHEREAS, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has recently altered the slot/length limit for small mouth bass caught on Norris Lake; and
WHEREAS, it is the opinion of local government officials that such slot/length limit
should be restored to its previous level; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED SIXTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is hereby directed to restore the slot/length limit for small mouth bass on Norris Lake to five (5) per day with a minimum length of eighteen inches (18").
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an enrolled copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Chair of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission.

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

Byron Begley
May 22, 2010

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