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 6:45 am, it is cloudy and 72 degrees.  It is going to be hot for a few days, with high temperatures in the mid-80’s to low 90’s.  We have a 50% chance for thunderstorms today.


Scattered thunderstorms were present in our area yesterday afternoon.  A small storm hovered over Townsend.  It rained hard for a while. Last night, in the Park, more rain fell.

Little River rose and fell, then rose again.  Currently, flow is 151 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.69 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 158 cfs.  The water temperature is 67.8 degrees this morning.


Due to the expected hot daytime temperatures, I would fish the mid to higher elevations.  Lynn Camp Prong, Thunderhead Prong, Upper Middle Prong and the East Prong of Little River above Elkmont would be good choices.  Try Fish Camp Prong, one of my favorite streams in the Park.

Fishing will be good.  I would use yellow dry flies including Neversink Caddis, Stimulator, Yellow Parachute Adams or any Yellow Sally pattern for my dry fly.  Ants and Beetles are other options.  For sub-surface fishing or a dropper off a dry fly, try a Green or Pink Weenie.

Watch for rising water this weekend.  There is a continued chance for isolated thunderstorms. 

Fishing will be best early and late.  During the daytime, fish the shaded areas of streams.  I would hike into the backcountry and fish a smaller stream.  The larger rivers will likely be used by tubers and swimmers during the heat of the day.


The tailwaters in our area are fishing well for both trout and smallmouth bass.  As we move into Summer, the smallie fishing on these rivers is excellent.  Last year, I fished with Josh Pfeiffer 2 or 3 times and we had excellent days.  I remember them as 100 fish days but nobody kept count.  We didn’t have time to tally the fish caught.  We were too busy spotting, casting to, hooking and catching bass all day, each day.

Check out Josh’s latest fishing report by CLICKING HERE.  Scroll down to the second report on May 30th. Look at those smallmouth bass.  Josh is an excellent smallmouth bass guide and the best part of his season has just begun.  One of the best days I spent with him was in August.


One of my old friends, Gary Taylor, is guiding full time again.  His operation is headquartered in Blue Ridge, Georgia.  I was a client of Gary’s in the early 90’s.  Since then, we have stayed good friends.  He is a FFF Certified Master Instructor.  He is a great guy to spend time with.   

I’ve never been to Blue Ridge.  They say it is beautiful.  Paula and some of her friends visited there last Winter.

You can visit Gary’s website by CLICKING HERE.  Check it out.  This might be a perfect fishing trip for you this year.  Gary pioneered drift boat fishing in the South, on the Hiwassee River.  His company’s name is Dry Flyer Outfitters, as it was two decades ago. 


We ask that question every time someone buys a new reel that we wind backing and fly line on.  Many customers go through the motions with their hands, to find the answer.  It is amazing how many people do that.  We need to know so we can set up your reel properly.

Most people operate their reel with their left hand, even if they are right-handed. Sometimes I ask why.  The usual answer is, “I cast with my right and reel with my left, so I don’t have to change hands.”

But, in reality, you only change hands when you are winding in everything to move somewhere else, to quit fishing, or to fight a fish from the reel.  Sometimes we wind in line to lessen the un-used extra line on the water or on the bottom of the boat.  So, if you cast right handed, and reel right handed, you do switch your rod to the left hand occasionally.

I operate reels with my right hand and I cast with my right hand.  I’ve always done that for three reasons:

I wind faster with my right hand and arm.  That is important to me, because I always hope to fight fish from the reel.  I always fight large fish from the reel.

Reason #2 for me is, when a fish is running fast, pulling the line from my feet, to the reel, I don’t want that reel knob sticking out on the left side.  It can catch the line and I’ll lose the fish.  I’m holding my rod in my right hand, holding the line out to the left so it will clear without snagging something, like my reel, then when the line clears and the fish is on the reel, I switch hands.  The rod goes to the left hand, and I use my right hand to wind.  If the fish runs toward me, I can wind faster with my right hand.

The third reason is, when I started fly fishing in the early 60’s, a right hand retrieve reel was about your only choice.  My first fly reel was a right hand retrieve reel and it could not be switched to the left.  I guess, left handed people had to special order left-retrieve reels or they just reeled with their right hand.  At that time, I never saw a left hand retrieve reel.


Two decades ago, we tied the flies we sold, here in Townsend and Walter tied them in Sweetwater, TN.  We were proud of the fact that our flies were tied in Tennessee.  I ordered some special “giveaway” boxes for our customers who bought flies.  It was my fault but I didn’t know about the mistake until the printed boxes arrived at our shop. I spelled Tennessee wrong.  I spelled it Tessessee.  I’m looking at one of those boxes right now.  We had hundreds of them.  We could not afford to throw them away.  Some customers didn’t notice.  I told some customers, with my tongue in cheek, that “Chief Tessessee” ties them for us.  Another story was, “Tessessee was the original Native American spelling of Tennessee”. 

I opened a printing company in Nashville in 1973 when I was 23 years old.  One of my first customers pointed out, that I had spelled Tennessee wrong on his printing order.  I left out an “s”.  “Hey, I just moved here from Kentucky”.  “That’s the way we spell Tennessee up there.”

Obviously, we didn’t have spell checking back then.  We didn’t have computers either.  We only had dumb phones. We wound our fly reels with our right hand.

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

Byron Begley
June 12, 2015

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