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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is foggy and 70 degrees this morning.  I saw a wild turkey hen and two young poults in front of our house when I pulled out to drive here.  I think she has three but I didn’t see the third one.  Her poults are smaller than you usually see in late June.  Everything is late this year because of the cold weather we had in the early Spring.  Fish behavior is different this year too, probably for the same reason.

Fishing in the Smokies is great right now.  We had a beginner student catch 6 trout yesterday.  That’s a lot of fish for a beginner to catch.  Actually, this young man had fly fished for warmwater species before taking our class so he was a step ahead of most students who attend our school.  Rob Fightmaster was his instructor yesterday so he hired Rob to take him on a guided trip today.  I saw them both this morning when I got here.

Our on-stream second day classes are taught by Rob and Josh Pfeiffer who are both excellent guides.  Josh is guiding Dick from Virginia today and tomorrow for smallmouth bass.  Dick is a smallie fanatic and he is an excellent angler.

Little River is at a perfect flow this morning.  Currently, flow is 323 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.32 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 135 cfs.  Water levels are usually low this time of year.  What we are seeing now is unusual in a good way.  The water temperature at 7:55 am is 62.8 degrees.  The water is clear.

I would use dry flies, Parachute Adams, Yellow Neversink Caddis or a Yellow Stimulator.  I would drop a Green Weenie off the dry.  I might add some weight to the Green Weenie.  I started slipping a tungsten bead on my tippet for weight.  I know, it slides but you don’t weaken the tippet by pinching on some split shot.  The tungsten beads are actually used for fly tying. I did the same thing last week fishing for smallmouth bass with a Puglisi Threadfin Shad.  It worked perfect.

The tailwaters are fishing great if you can find one with the right generation schedule.  Anglers are catching very large trout too.  TVA has been generating at many of their dams to control the water levels in the impoundments and produce cheap electricity.  Maybe things will settle down now.  When they are not generating, you need to go right now.

Paula and I plan to fish on the lakes this week for two days.  We are planning to start tomorrow at the confluence of the Little Tennessee and Tellico Rivers.  This is new territory for us and I’m looking forward to it.  Depending on how that goes, we may fish the upper end of the lake in the Little Tennessee River tailwater section.  That is great smallmouth bass territory and we almost never seen anyone there.

We are very busy at the shop.  Keeping merchandise in stock is the challenge right now.  I have not seen business this good in a while.  People are fishing.  People are excited about fishing and our business reflects that enthusiasm.  Of course we are all excited too. 

I can’t believe how many people I talked to yesterday who are planning to take up smallmouth bass fishing with a fly rod.  There were several and I’m hearing the same thing every day either in person or by email.  Maybe anglers are looking for something new.  They have probably heard how exciting it is to catch one of these fish.  They fight like nothing else I have ever caught on a fly, including tarpon if you adjust for the size of the fish.  And, maybe these fishermen are looking for solitude.  Since most fly fishermen in our region target trout, the other rivers and lakes are not crowded.  I almost never see anyone fly fishing for smallmouth bass unless it is one of my friends.

I have been hearing from customers in Georgia and Alabama lately.  Fly fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill and shellcrackers has been excellent.  I love to catch both on a fly rod.  Largemouth bass will attack about anything but they are not stupid.  Frank caught one on a Byron’s Knucklehead last week and we watched as that fish moved out of its ambush position and attacked the fly.  We saw another bass that weighed at least 5 pounds.  It wouldn’t even look at his fly.  I think that bass saw our boat first.

And then there are carp.  I have caught a few on a fly rod but it has proven to be very challenging to me.  I have spent hours trying to catch the big ones.  I guess I don’t know what I’m doing but I will keep trying. 

I did a little research last night on public lands in our region.  It is amazing how many acres of public land are contiguous or almost contiguous to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It is in the millions of acres.  The Park has over 500,000 acres within its boundaries.  Adjoining is the Cherokee National Forest. Then you can count hundreds of thousands of acres in Pisgah, Nantahala, Chatahoochee, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests plus some others nearby.  Vast areas of wilderness land has been set aside in the Southern Appalachians for our enjoyment.  There are thousands of miles of rivers and streams in this area. This is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

If you enjoy fly fishing for trout, these drainages that flow in and out of the Southern Appalachians rival any trout fisheries anywhere.   

I think I may be here because the Southern Appalachians are in my blood.  The Begley family settled in this area in the 1600’s.  My ancestors pioneered Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.  I think my ninth-great grandfather was born in 1608. Tracing the family back that far is not easy.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  I’m pretty sure my 5th great grandfather was Henry Begley who was born in 1734.  My latest ancestors ended up in Eastern Kentucky near London.  I’m pretty sure one of them first passed through Cumberland Gap with Daniel Boone. 

The mountains are home to me.  I feel like I belong here. I am glad to be home.

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

Byron Begley
June 24, 2013

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