Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  We have a feral or stray cat hanging around our neighborhood.  This thing is solid white.  And it appears to be making a living even without the ability to blend into the surroundings. I pulled onto our private gravel road this morning and there he was sitting near our neighbor’s grape vines.  And, walking toward the cat was a wild turkey hen.  I pulled around and drove up the hill to get a better view.  That turkey kept walking toward the cat.  I wanted to stick around to see what happened but did not have time.  There may be the remains of a turkey or cat in that spot when I go home.  Personally, I hope the turkey won.  She was much bigger than the cat. But she didn’t appear to be very smart or wary. 

At 8:00 am when I dipped my thermometer in Little River the air temperature was already 73 degrees.  The water temperature was 72 degrees.  Needless to say it is going to be hot again today in Townsend.  We’ll get some relief next week and there is a chance for rain every day after today.  We need it bad.

Little River is very low and warm.  Flow is 63 cubic feet per second below the “Y” located at the junction of the three prongs of the river.  Median flow for this date is 160 cfs at that location.  We are not seeing anglers in the shop right now or at least not many.  We are seeing anglers who are fishing tailwaters or waiting for the cool spell whenever that comes.  More importantly to many fishermen, we need higher water. 

One concern when conditions like these occur is the dissolved oxygen content in our streams.  Trout require oxygen.  Warm water does not retain as much dissolved oxygen as colder water.  Also, the trout’s metabolism is stable at cooler temperatures.  Warm water speeds up their metabolism and they require more food to live.  Long periods of warm water in the trout’s ecosystem can actually cause the fish to starve.  That, along with a low amount of dissolved oxygen causees stress on the trout and some mortality, especially among rainbow trout.  That happens in the Smokies.  It is part of the whole scheme of controlling populations.  Droughts and floods keep the population of trout under control. When we don't have droughts and floods for several years, the streams become overpopulated and we experience smaller trout when fishing. If we lose a year class of fish due to a flood or rainbows die during droughts, we catch larger trout and don't notice there are less of them in the streams.

We don't have a problem right now. We are not anywhere close to the prolonged low and warm water like we saw during the droughts of 2007 and 2008. But, we need some rain soon and cooler temperatures would be nice too.

Until we get rain and cooler temperatures I would suggest you hike into the backcountry or drive higher into the mountains to fish.  The water will be cooler though it will still be low.  Experienced anglers will do well, especially in the early mornings and late in the evening.  Dry flies seem to be working best.  A Yellow Stimulator, Yellow Neversink Caddis, Yellow Caddis or any yellow stonefly pattern is suggested.  Also, terrestrial patterns are a good choice. Fish the riffles and faster water.

Today I would fish Walker Camp Prong and it’s tributaries near Highway 441.  I might also hike way up the East Prong of Little River above Elkmont Campground. Try Abrams Creek.  It has been fishing well near the trailhead to the falls.  There are plenty of cool springs in that area.  The water is usually colder there than other lower elevation streams.

The Fishing Gauge is dropping down below good toward slow.  That is because of the current stream conditions.  It does not mean you won’t catch trout especially if  you pick the right streams to fish.  What it does mean is, the average angler won’t catch as many fish throughout the whole Park.

I’m getting some great photos from people who are fishing the Clinch River.  The trout seem to be larger than usual.  Also, the sulphur hatch has been reported to be lighter than usual.  But, those trout are taking tiny midges and Pheasant Tail nymphs.  I don’t fish there but plenty of my friends do.  They say the fishing is great.  Ethan and Will fished the Watauga for four days.  He’ll be here tomorrow and let me know how they did. 

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

Byron Begley
June 8, 2011 

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Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:

Saturday May 21 – Beginner Day One
Sunday May 22 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday June 11 – Beginner Day One
Saturday June 25 – Beginner Day One
Sunday June 26 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday July 9 – Beginner Day One
Saturday July 23 – Beginner Day One
Sunday July 24 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday September 10 – Beginner Day One
Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

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