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 partly cloudy and 50 degrees.  Expect sunny skies today and tomorrow, with high temperatures in the low to mid 80’s. 

Little River is flowing at 105 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.50 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 196 cfs.  The water temperature is 59 degrees this morning.

The flows we see now, are typical to what we normally see in August.  However, the water temperatures are cooler. 

Yesterday, Dan, Daniel and I discussed at what position the Fishing Gauge should be pointing.  The water levels are half the normal flow for May. But, fishing is not bad.  It’s just different.  We decided to leave the gauge pointing to good.

Fishermen came in the shop yesterday and reported catching trout.  We didn’t hear any stories about anglers catching fish hand over fist.  But, fishing is still good, probably due to the water temperatures and the fact that many fishermen know how to fish in streams that have low flows.  If they fish in the Summer, that’s what we usually have.  Fishing is not bad, it is just different.  Fishing isn’t excellent.  But, it’s not bad.  Good is in the middle.

Aquatic insect are on the water during the day and in the evenings, there are more of them.  I did talk to a couple of young guys from Canton, Georgia yesterday.  They said, the insects they saw the night before, were mostly mayflies.  I’m not sure where they were.  The didn’t see many Yellow Sally Stoneflies.  Other anglers report seeing more yellow stoneflies. 

So, have both in your fly box, Yellow Sally Stoneflies and Sulphur or Light Cahill patterns.  Use what you see.


If you plan to fish in Little River, through town, in the stocked waters, go early or late.  Tubing activity is very high.  You won’t enjoy the experience as much during the day, unless you like looking at people floating by in tubes. You can avoid this by simply fishing in the Park, by walking up a trail along a stream.  Remember, in the Park you can’t use bait. Only non-scented, artificial, single hook lures are legal there.  You can legally use a two fly dropper rig in the Park.


Everyone is talking about Chickamauga Lake and the Florida strain largemouth bass that were stocked there years ago.  A new state record was set there last year.  The bass weighed 15 pounds 2 ounces.  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has also stocked the Florida strain bass in other smaller agency owned lakes.

When the Florida Strain bass mate with the Northern strain we have here, their offspring are more aggressive, grow quicker and are supposedly easier to catch.

TWRA just stocked thousands of Florida strain largemouth bass in Fort Loudoun Lake, at Ish Creek.  You can read the story and watch the video on the WBIR website by CLICKING HERE.  These fish and their offspring will eventually be found also in Tellico Lake as those lakes are joined by a canal.


Fly fishermen are stocking up with panfish flies at the shop.  And, they are buying tying materials to make their own.  Bluegill are spawning in our area.  Shellcrackers are either spawning or they are just active.  I’m not sure which.  A friend of mine caught a 14” shellcracker last week.  I think Paula and I will drag our boat to where he was fishing next week. 


Fly fishing for trout in our tailwaters has been very good.  I talked to one of Josh Pfeiffer’s clients yesterday.  He and Josh had a great day on the Holston River, Thursday.  Check the TVA website for generation schedules on the Clinch and Holston rivers.  You might have some opportunities to fish at both today.


I talked to my old friend Doug yesterday.  Paula and I have known he and his wife for 20 years.  They live in Florida.  We have fished with Doug often, mostly for tarpon.

They have a 42-foot trawler.  And, they drive it from Florida to the Bahamas every year, with their two kids, and spend a month on the boat.  What a vacation!  On their trawler they have an inflatable boat with a 20 hp motor.  Doug told me it gets him to shore so he can wade for bonefish, catching them with a fly rod.  This year, he plans to take their two paddleboards, and fish in deeper water for bonefish, just off the edges of the flats, where he can’t wade. 

I told Paula last night, “We need a bigger boat”.

I could cash out and live on a boat the rest of my life.  That is my dream.  We could spend the winters in Key West, then drive to the Panhandle during the summer.  Paula wants to have a home on dry land.  I even found the perfect boat online and showed it to her.  It was a 60 foot trawler.

Owning a big boat, or any boat for that matter, is not always a day at the beach.  Jack and I were in Florida fishing with Doug a few years ago.  A tropical storm turned and headed our way.  Jack and I had rented a condo on the water.  We decided to stick out the storm, mainly because we were off from work, and we had never experienced a tropical storm.  It was a bad one, worse than expected.  The condo swayed in the wind all night.  We waded through deep water to get to my truck the next morning.

The night before, Jack and I helped Doug secure his other trawler, a smaller one.  We lashed everything down and double and triple roped the boat to the dock in the harbor.  The next morning, we saw boats floating around un-tethered.  Some boats sank.  Others were on top of the docks.  It was a mess.  Doug’s trawler made it through the storm, unscathed.

Months later, a hurricane ripped through the same area.  Doug drove his trawler into a river and anchored it, preparing for the storm.  A lot of people do that.  After the hurricane passed, Doug couldn’t find his boat.  He finally found it.  Unfortunately, it was on dry land, laying on it’s side and the cabins were full of diesel fuel.  His insurance company paid to have the boat put back into service but it took a long time.

Maybe living on a boat is not such a good idea.

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

Byron Begley
May 23, 2015 

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