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 6:18 am, it is cloudy and 65 degrees.

For the second evening in a row, a large rain cell was bearing down on us from the south.  And both nights, it moved to our east.  Last night, the cells missed the Smokies completely.  I checked flow gauges at Cataloochee, Oconaluftee and Tellico River.  None of those streams rose.

Little River is flowing at 88 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.42 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 209 cfs.  The water temperature is 67.1 degrees this morning.

Despite the low water, fishing is pretty good.  To be successful, you need to know how to fish low water.  Mark Schoonaert fished night before last for a couple of hours and caught 7 trout.  He was fishing high on Newfound Gap Road.  He said the water was very low.  Mark just “dapped” a fly in likely spots, with only a couple of feet of fly line and a short leader, hanging out of the rod tip.  He targeted spots, where fast water enters a small pool.  The water was choppy, providing cover for the trout.  When the water is low, the trout are always in those spots.  He also noticed some lime colored stoneflies.  They are similar to a Yellow Sally, with a bright lime colored body.

A Yellow Neversink Caddis, size #16, is about all you need right now.  If you are fishing the high elevations, you might try the lime version.  A Light Cahill will work too. Dropping a small bead head nymph off the dry is a good idea.  You might also use Green or Pink Weenies.  I like to fish them weighted and deep. 


TVA’s generation schedules may be of interest to some of you today.  It looks like Norris Dam will be turned off until 3 pm.  Cherokee Dam will be pulsing off and on.  I would take a look at Center Hill Dam and the Caney Fork River.  That one looks good today.  Check the TVA website yourself and make a determination on your own.  There may be some fishing opportunities on these wonderful trout rivers.


The lowland rivers are low.  You might slide a canoe or kayak in the mill pond above Perry’s Mill on Little River.  That’s a great place to catch bass and bluegill.  Floating Little River now, in the lower sections would probably result in a lot of hull dragging, boat tugging and that would not be something I would do when the water is this low.


Clingman’s Dome Road was closed around noon yesterday due to a rock slide.  A couple of large boulders fell, and partially blocked one lane.  The Park Service reports the road will be closed at least until sometime today.  You can check their Twitter Page by CLICKING HERE.  When it re-opens, they will post it to Twitter.  Never mind, I just checked.  It opened an hour ago.


Paula and I are trying to schedule a fishing day this week, on a lake.  We picked tomorrow.  Now, we’re thinking about Friday.  We hate being on a lake, in a thunderstorm.  We missed a good opportunity yesterday.  Additionally, Paula is painting our front porches and deck railings.  She’s trying to work that in too.  I know one thing I going to do this week, tie Knuckleheads.  Paul told me yesterday they need 6 dozen more at the shop.  I have only 44 dozen here on my desk.


Two or three weeks ago, a bear tore our bird feeder off the post.  The feeder hit the back steps and is now rendered useless.  I attached a platform to the post, which we are not using now.  I thought a bare post, sticking out of the ground looked odd.

At 8 pm, last night, I looked out the back of the house and saw a big bear walking our direction in the forest.  I called out to Paula to come down and look.  As we watched, he walked to our bird feeder post, located 20 feet from the house. He stood up on his back feet, and put his nose almost at the platform and sniffed.  He smelled nothing, dropped back on all four feet, and slowly waked back into the forest.

We watched from 20 feet away, inside the house.  To put this into perspective, that platform is almost 7 feet from the ground.  So, that bear, from nose to back feet was at least 6’ 6” tall.  When he stretched to sniff, I could see his huge gut.  That animal is eating well. He is making a living, stealing food from people.  He is a lot larger than I am.  I suspect he weighs at least 300 pounds.  I’ve seen what everyone determined to be a 500 pound bear in that same spot.  This one was not that large.  He is fairly bold too.  It was not dark outside at that time and he surely saw us in the house.

UPDATE 10:24 AM - After searching the internet, looking for bear sizes and weights, I now think that bear weighed over 200 pounds and the 500 pound bear was probably an optomistic estimate that grew over time as repeated by people living in our valley. I can be sure about one thing, the bear we saw last night was lot bigger than me!

So, what do we do?  Nothing.  We’ve been living with these animals for over 20 years.  The most appropriate question is, “What will we not do?”

We won’t be feeding birds until winter.  When we’re grilling out, one of us will keep an eye on the grill or smokers.  We never put garbage outside the house.  We won’t put something that looks like food on a windowsill.  We had a bear almost break in our house once, to get a plastic apple sitting on a windowsill. We’ll keep the cars unlocked, in case we need to take refuge in one of them.  But, we won’t go armed.  I’m not going to walk around outside with a firearm because we live with bears.  We don’t own bear spray either.  Maybe we should.  I’m going to remove that post and platform until Winter.

Now, having said all of that, if a bear chases one of us, we are going armed for a while. We did that once. That bear was trapped and removed after two weeks of close encounters that were pretty scary.  I think the chance of that happening is very low. Most people living here know to follow the rules.  Don’t give them a reason to visit.

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

Byron Begley
May 27, 2015

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