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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  The sun shines on our valley this morning or it will in a few minutes.  The temperature is 67 degrees.  Traffic is moderate in our town.  What I saw mostly on my commute was locals going to work.  I did see some campers leaving the Park. 

We have a slight chance for afternoon thunderstorms today.  I hope that happens.  We have experienced a dry beginning to Summer.  And there is no significant rainfall expected for the next 7 days.

Little River is flowing low.  Flow is currently 100 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 156 cfs.  The water temperature is 66.1 degrees at 7:45 am.  Though the river flow may seem very low, it is not.  Many anglers like to fish the streams here when they are this low.  Wading is easy.  To put this flow into perspective, the lowest flow reading on Little River I remember was 18 cfs.  That was during the droughts of 2007 or 2008.  I am going by memory which is a dangerous thing.  I believe the highest recorded flow in Little River was 15,000 or 17,000 cfs.  Don’t quote me on this one.  I’m 99% sure the low of 18 cfs is correct.   

Fishing is still good though.  When the water gets warmer during the Summer the trout fishing will get tougher in the Smokies.  That is especially true when the water is low.  These streams fluctuate up and down in depth all year.  What we experience in most cases during the Summer are scattered and isolated thunderstorms, usually late in the day.  One storm might hit a certain high elevation watershed causing the streams to rise.  But, close by, another stream may not get any rain at all. 

You will need to adapt to a stealth strategy when fishing the Smokies right now.  Wear subdued colors.  Keep your body low.  Trout will be hiding in the riffles where there is more oxygen and cover.  Dry flies will work well.  Make them small yellow stonefly patterns or terrestrials.  Other patterns will work too.  For a nymph I would use a Green Weenie or Bead Head Pheasant Tail.  Use lighter than normal tippet, maybe as fine as 6X. 

I watch the weather for many reasons but most importantly, I check it to write this report every day.  Our business depends on the weather.  Fishing success and safety depend on the weather.

What we are seeing now is a dry spell.  For the year our rainfall is up about 1” from normal.  Since June 1st rainfall is down about ½” from normal at the Airport.  We are not considered to be in a drought.  You can check the Drought Monitor by CLICKING HERE.  But, to our west our state is abnormally dry. 

Tennessee Valley Authority and the Corp of Engineers are having trouble due to this.  First, this is boating and tourist season.  They try to keep the lakes at near Summer pool for recreation purposes.  They also have to balance the need for minimum flows to protect the trout streams below impoundments.  The trout need cold water with plenty of dissolved oxygen. 

The agency wants to generate power.  That is good for the trout fishery below the dams but that lowers the lakes.  Boaters and marina owners don’t like that. 

TVA is also trying to balance the need for river barge transportation on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers.  That takes water.  Transportation and flood control are important considerations for the person who pushes the button to release water from the many impoundments we have in this area and our State.  Here is a very interesting article about the balancing act and how the dry weather has affected us so far during the past three weeks.  Read the Weather Channel story by CLICKING HERE. What we need is some rain and plenty of it.

This year I started watching lake levels.  In fact, I check every lake on the list to the left every day.  I change the lake level readings as they are reported by TVA.  That may sound boring but I am a lake fly fisherman and knowledge is gained by looking at these numbers.  I just wish I could find a reliable source online for lake surface water temperature.  Now that is some information we anglers would find to be very important.

I worked on poppers again last night trying to build up a supply to last Paula and I the rest of the year and beyond.  Now I have 30 chartreuse and black bodies glued to the hooks.  I started cutting yellow bodies last night too.  White bodies will be cut tonight.  I’m hoping to have about 48 total glued tonight and ready for the eyes to be applied.  The sizes are #6 and #8.  They are bluegill flies but we catch bass on them too.  

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

Byron Begley
June 14, 2012

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