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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is a sunny and warm Sunday morning, 73 degrees in Townsend right now.  I saw only 6 vehicles on my way to work.  Everyone must be sleeping in.  Believe me, we have visitors in Townsend this weekend.  We saw families on vacation and local folks yesterday.  We were pretty busy here.

About 3:30 pm a thunderstorm was bearing down on us from the South.  We had a full class of 8 students here for day 1 of the beginner fly fishing school.  When Walter and Paula heard thunder they moved back into the building with the students.  I watched as the cell moved to our East on the radar.  It missed us.  I didn’t miss the Little River watershed. 

I got home at 6:30 pm and looked at the flow gauge online.  Click the “Stream Info” button to the left and down.  The river was rising quickly.  I looked again this morning.  It was obvious that another storm dropped more rain in the Smokies, particularly in the Little River area.  There was another spike up at that time.  I checked some other streams in the park and didn’t see a large spike in their gauge graphs. 

Right now the river is running at 237 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 116 cfs.  The water temperature is 68.6 degrees.  I walked out on the swinging bridge earlier.  Little River is stained.  I could not see the bottom.  This is going to be an excellent day to fish in the Little River.  Since we did not get any rain in Townsend yesterday or last night, the silt is coming from another source, maybe Wears Valley or probably in the Park.  Partially stained water can be a huge advantage for anglers targeting larger brown trout.  You may find the turbid water is in one or all of the prongs of the river.  As it clears, get out your nymphs, add some weight and hit the eddies and deep runs.

I heard a lot of conflicting fishing reports yesterday from customers.  Some said the fishing was slow.  Others begged to differ.  One fellow said he did not catch anything but someone asked him if he was the guy who caught the big trout.  I heard that earlier in the day.  A while later another customer showed me a photo of a really nice brown trout he caught.  I guess that is the fish the bystander was talking about.  They were both fishing the same stream.  His witness stood close by as he related the story to us. He was fishing deep with a weighted nymph.  He got hung up or so he thought.  He lifted his rod to free the fly.  The fly started moving.  After a battle and help from his buddy he landed the brown.  I would guess from the photo it was 15” or 16” long.  It was hard to tell.  I saw hands and a beautiful fish. 

People ask me all the time to describe what the fishing will be like during a particular time when they will be visiting Townsend.  Let’s use October as an example.  We don’t get much rain in October.  When the water is low and warm the fishing can be slow.  But, like yesterday, we can have hot temperatures and good flows.  The fishing can be excellent. 

Fishing here can be slow or great depending on the water levels and the water temperatures.  Being adaptable is also a significant key to angler success.  My guess is, some anglers did well yesterday using nymphs fished deep.  Others did poorly using dry flies and a dropper.  That also varies depending upon where you are fishing.  Dry flies might have worked great yesterday in the backcountry or in the higher elevations.  Just be willing to try anything.

I’m hearing good reports about smallmouth bass fishing in the lowland rivers.  Increased flows are benefiting those who target the smallmouth bass in streams.  Fishing is best early and late.  There are many rivers that flow out of the Park and provide exceptional smallmouth bass fishing, even in the warmest months.  Little River is one.  Little Pigeon is another.  Abrams Creek is still another great smallmouth bass stream.  And that doesn’t include all the other rivers that flow out of the park into the valleys.

Smallmouth bass fishing is getting to be very popular with fly fishermen around here.  Try it and you will find out why.  These fish fight hard.  They don’t give up.  They can aggressively attack a fly or simply sip it from the surface with only a dimple.  No matter what size they are or how they choose to take your fly, get ready for a battle. 

Little River will be stained downstream for a day or two, maybe more.  It should be clear in town later today or tomorrow.  There are miles of fishable water between here and the Tennessee River. I think about 40 miles.  From Elkmont to the Tennessee River the distance is over 50 miles if my memory serves me well today.  Anyway, there is a lot of really good stream smallmouth fishing to be had just in that one river.

If you can get out today and to the Park, this is one of those days when you might have a exceptional day.  Local anglers who fish the Park successfully and often, wait for days like today. 

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

Byron Begley
July 22, 2012 

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