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 5:13 am, it is foggy and 67 degrees in Townsend.

The weather forecast calls for hot temperatures through Sunday.  Highs will be in the 90’s with lows in the high 60’s to low 70’s.  It will be mostly dry during the period with a slight chance for thunderstorms through the weekend.


Little River is flowing at 543 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.63 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 153 cfs.  The water temperature is 64.6 degrees.

Yesterday morning, when I wrote this report, the gauge reading at Little River in Townsend was 3.84 feet.  The level dropped during the morning to 3.2 feet.  A thunderstorm in the watershed, raised the water by noon to over 4 feet.  Now the river has receded.

The water is much higher than normal.  Flows are what we consider high. At 2.5 feet on the gauge, we do not take beginner fly fishing students to the river.  Care should be taken today when wading.  Little River is fishable.


Fishing is probably good right now.  Flows are similar to what we see in the Spring, on the high side of good.  Many anglers do not like fishing water that is this high.  Others do.  All anglers should be careful wading.  Little River and other streams in the Park are still swift.

I would use nymphs and get them down deep.  Dry flies may work well too.  The trout are dispersed, unlike they were when the water was lower.  Small streams may be a good option today.  You will likely find some streams flowing higher than normal everywhere, but some may be relatively higher than others.


These rivers are flowing high.  Some may be stained. 


Due to the heavy rain, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will be generating at the dams.  TVA is planning to generate all day, full bore at Norris Dam.  The same holds true at Cherokee Dam beginning at 11 am, with an hour of less discharge early, with a possible shutdown for 3 hours at 8 am.  Other dams in our region will be generating today.

Lake levels are at the high end of the expected elevation range.  We will likely see active generation schedules for a while. 

Check the TVA website before you go.  Schedules are subject to change.  Don’t go without looking closely at the TVA website.


The Townsend Fire Department was busy yesterday, rescuing stranded and injured tubers. Nobody drowned.  Firemen assisted between 25 to 30 people, out of the river during the day.  A decision was made, to shut down commercial tubing operations for safety reasons.  You can read the story on the Daily Times website by CLICKING HERE.

Many tourists, who do not live near rivers, or didn’t grow up near rivers, don’t understand the danger of high water.  I’ve talked to many visitors over the years, who were battered, cut and bruised, because they did not know the danger they were putting themselves in, by tubing or swimming in swollen streams.  I remember a couple of people I’ve talked to, who almost drowned.  One man, in particular, almost lost his young daughter, as he watched.  I will never forget that conversation.

Yesterday, the river rose again, unexpectedly.  It did not rain at our house all day.  Somewhere in the Little River drainage, it did. 


The thunderstorms that pounded the Park and areas around Townsend caused problems for many people, temporarily.  Lightning struck near our store causing communication outages for us yesterday. IT professionals were busy, repairing communication and computer damage to many businesses, due to the storm on Tuesday.  That has happened before and it will happen again.  When that occurs, you have to get in line and wait. The last time I talked to Daniel yesterday, they were still waiting.

Thankfully, we did not have a flood.  Before recent rain events, our region was listed as being in a “Moderate Drought”.  On July 7th, that designation was lowered to “Abnormally Dry”.

Most of the year, rainfall at the Knoxville Airport has been running below normal by 2 to 4 inches.  This morning, rainfall at the Airport is reported to be 27.47 inches for the year.  Normal is 27.75 inches.

Right now, we are in good shape. There is no indication of a dry spell, in the long-term weather forecast.  We may see more rain this weekend, through Tuesday.  The updated U.S. Drought Monitor report will be released in two hours, at 8:30 am.  I expect to see some good news.

This will be good for freestone stream and lowland river fishermen in our region, probably for a while.  The down side may be more generation at TVA dams, affecting tailwater fishermen.

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

Byron Begley
July 16, 2015

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