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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is cloudy and 72 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was moderate on my way to work.  I drove by Little River and it looked normally beautiful.  There is fog that looks like smoke dotted throughout the mountains that I can see from here.  I feels like Summer.  It should.  Summer is nine days away.

Little River is flowing about normal at 148 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 159 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 64.5 degrees.  Yesterday the water temperature at the “Y” reached 66 degrees.

Fishing is good in the Smokies as it should be.  The water is fairly low, about what you would expect this time of year.  Fishing the streams under these conditions requires stealth.  You need to stay hidden.  These trout are wild, born in the streams with parents and grandparents who survived by instinctively avoiding predators.  These wild trout consider a human to be a threat to their lives.  So, don’t throw a shadow on the water or wear a white t-shirt.  Get a good drift, blend in and stay low.

Dry flies are working well.  Yellow Sally stonefly imitations are working.  As we move into the Summer months things will change.  Things are changing already.  There won’t be those huge hatches like we see in the early Spring.  You will see more aquatic insect activity just before dark.  Trout, being the adaptable animals that they are will turn to other sources of food, terrestrials.  Land living insects fall into the water.  Ants, beetles, bees, moths and inchworms make good fly imitations during the Summer.  These trout will eat anything that looks like food as long as they don’t feel threatened. So by all means use a mayfly, caddis or stonefly.  The Yellow Sally stoneflies are active, especially late in the day throughout the Summer.

During the warmer months the water levels are usually lower though it fluctuates with isolated storms that form in the mountains.  When the water is low you will find feeding trout in the choppy water and pockets behind rocks.  Trout also need plenty of dissolved oxygen.  Riffles create more dissolved oxygen.  Warmer water decreases dissolved oxygen.  So there is another reason you will find trout in the riffles.  During the Summer, fishing is best in the Smokies, early and late.

Larger brown trout feed at night when the water is low and warmer.  They hide during the day.  We can’t fish in the Smokies at night, it is against Park regulations and it is dangerous.  So, you are more likely to catch these larger predatory fish when the water is higher and on cloudy days.  The exception to that rule is the Fall spawn.  You will see more brown trout out in the open during and after the spawn.

I think the smallmouth bass in most of the lakes have moved into deeper water seeking a cooler environment.  There are exceptions to that statement.  We have some cool rivers and lakes around here.  In fact, some of the tailwaters are cool enough that the smallmouth bass will take top water flies in August. 

Smallmouth fishing in the lowland rivers can be tough when the water is seasonally low like it is now.  I would go early and late.

Bluegill, shellcrackers and all the sunfishes are spawning and active in shallow water.  Yesterday I started on a project to make a few dozen poppers using foam cylinders.  I am getting ready for some serious bluegill fishing.  I love fishing for these scrappy fish with a popper early in the mornings on a calm lake. 

Three years ago I hooked a bluegill that appeared to be 12” long.  It swam near the boat several times.  Paula and Frank are my witnesses.  It finally headed for a downed tree and I broke it off.  I’m going back to that same spot soon.  This time I will be using 10 pound tippet in case that happens again.  You can’t stop a 12 inch bluegill with 6 pound tippet.  That is a 3 pound fish with the strength of a 10 pound fish.  That was the first 12” bluegill I had ever seen.

I came upon somewhat of a crime scene near the shop yesterday.  Evidently, a man pulling a trailer with a backhoe on it, stopped at a fire hydrant in front of the Post Office, hooked up a hose and filled his water tank with free water.  Someone called the water department.  Lynn who runs the department had the guy stopped in front of our building. They were just talking when I pulled up. 

Lynn let him go just before the police arrived.  Frank, our excellent patrolman was the first to arrive on the scene after Lynn. Someone at the water department called him. I think they both new the fellow and I don’t know the circumstances.  Maybe the man with the hose was a volunteer fireman.  Lynn, Frank and I talked for a few minutes but the man who allegedly filled his tank was never mentioned by name.  There is always some kind of excitement in Townsend.  Lynn had his emergency lights on.  Frank did not.  I didn’t see anything in the newspaper about it this morning.

There is no other exciting news to report on today.

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

Byron Begley
June 12, 2012

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