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

WWelcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  At 6:45 am, it is cloudy and 63 degrees.  We have a 40% chance for thunderstorms today, and a 50% chance tomorrow and Thursday.

Little River is flowing low at 86 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.41 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 171 cfs.  The water temperature is 66 degrees this morning.

If you fish today, or any time when the water flows are this low, you will need to fish differently than you would normally do this time of year.  The trout are going to be hiding in the choppy water, where riffles enter pools, in riffles, or where the trout can find cover. 

Dropping a fly in a pocket, in a riffle is a good place to start.  Pockets are what we call the small area of slower water behind rocks in the riffles.  Trout tend to hide in the slower water to conserve energy.  They may run out into the faster water if they see food, but return to the pocket where they are not constantly fighting the current and burning energy.  It’s not easy getting your fly to stay in a pocket. If your fly line is in faster water, it will drag the fly out of the pocket.  One tactic that helps, is using a short fly line, which means, very little of your actual line is outside the tip top guide on your fly rod.  You will be using your leader as the primary line and you will have to fish close to the pocket to do that.  Use a short leader.  You can get closer to trout in riffles, because the water surface is broken and choppy.  They don’t see you easily.

Another tactic for fishing in low water is casting into the water where it flows from a riffle, into a pool.  Those spots are usually deep and they hold trout.  The water is surging downward, creating bubbles.  Land a dry fly or nymph there, and you will catch trout.

Since you will be fishing close to the fish, you need to wear clothing that blends into the forest.  A lot of anglers wear camo clothing and hats.  Never wear a white shirt.  The trout will see you.  Use finer tippet.  Dry flies work well in pockets but another good idea is to tie some tippet on the hook bend of your dry fly and attach a small bead head nymph a few inches below the dry fly.  This doubles your chances.


Though it looks real (sort of), the Fishing Gauge at the top of this page is really just an image I created in Adobe Illustrator in 2007.  The needle, pointing to Good, Slow, Excellent or somewhere in between, are different versions of the original.  I just repositioned the needle, and saved that image.  I have several of them on our server.  I can just pull in the gauge I want you to see that day, and that’s what you see.

Determining which gauge to use is always debatable by anyone, including me.  I try to use the gauge that would be considered appropriate to the average angler.  Right now, the needle is pointing in between good and slow.  I think most anglers will relate to that position.  Some fisherman may think fishing is good right now.  Others may perceive fishing as slow.  I try to be conservative.  Guides may question my decision.  They are taking clients to the streams right now and catching plenty of trout.  That is their job.  They are on the streams every day.  They know exactly what to do to catch trout.  Most anglers are on their own and many struggle when the water is low.  The gauge hardly ever points to excellent.  When it does, bugs are hatching everywhere and about anyone can catch trout that day.  When the needle points to lousy, the streams are un-fishable, usually due to very high water. So, that’s the story on the Fishing Gauge.

"It is our job, to make fishing good for you, when the gauge is pointing to a less friendly position". That's why we have experts in our store, waiting to help you. That's why we have this website. By helping you, we continue to build a loyal customer following. That is the way the fly fishing business works. That's what I think!  


I don’t use the gauge for tailwater fishing but if I did, it would be pointing to excellent today.  Fishermen and guides are relating stories to me that are just awesome.  The Clinch River is fishing great.  The Holston is excellent.  And, my favorite tailwater, that used to be my home stream, if incredible right now.  That is the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam.

The Caney has had some tough years due to an extensive and long maintenance project at the dam.  I heard awful stories over the past few years and that was just plain depressing to me.  It appears those days are over.  The Caney Fork is back and as good as ever.  I talked to David Knapp yesterday at the shop.  He guides on that river.  We planned a float trip on the Caney soon.  There are many guides who rely on the Caney Fork and know it well.  Check with Fly South and Cumberland Transit in Nashville.  There are other independent guides who work there too.  David Knapp is one of them.

What I like most about that river is the gravel bottom. I love the scenery.  I like the big fat trout, including rainbow, brown and brookies. 


Again, the Fishing Gauge would be pointing to Excellent.  I’m going to fish tomorrow with Frank Bryant, on a small lake near Crossville.  Daniel will be writing the fishing report tomorrow and Thursday.  I’ll let you know how we do.


Both June and July are wet months in the Great Smoky Mountains.  July is historically our wettest month.  March is our second wettest and June is third at the Gatlinburg site.  Check out the rainfall tables on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website by CLICKING HERE.  You might be surprised at what you see.


The long awaited opening of the new ProNova facility at Pellisippi Place in Alcoa is finally here.  The company will employ 190 people and there they will develop new cancer treatments using proton therapy.  This place is state-of-the-art.  Joe Matteo is President of ProNova.  He and his wife Debbie live here.  They enjoy fly fishing and are customers at the shop.  I know this is a proud day for them. CLICK HERE to read the article in the Daily Times.  This is a “must read”.  Good job Joe!

Debbie Matteo and Joe are huge supporters of Appalachian Bear Rescue.


I got my newsletter yesterday from Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR).  They have plenty of tiny, orphaned black bears being reared at the facility for release in the wild, later this year. One of my long-time friends, Kathy Wilbanks was recently hired as ABR’s Executive Director.  I know for a fact, this lady can get things done.  Kathy’s office is located at the new ABR Visitor’s Center, at Trillium Cove, next to our store.  Next time you are here, stop by and see the folks there.  Help them out by donating or volunteering.  Maybe you will meet Kathy.  You will like her.  CLICK HERE to read the news release about Kathy and the visitors center.

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

Byron Begley
June 2, 2015

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