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.  It is foggy and 65 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It was very peaceful in town when I drove through.  The same can be said about the outskirts where we live.  I thought I heard rain on our new metal roof this morning.  Once outside, I realized it was dew dripping from the trees. 

The man with his dog in the back of his pickup drove by me.  That happens almost every morning and has for years.  The man hasn’t changed much.  The dog did at one point.  The man always waves and I wave back.  He and I are on the same schedule though I don’t know where he goes so early, probably to breakfast.

Little River is flowing at 91 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.51 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 139 cfs.  This is the first day in several, when the river is flowing below normal.  It didn’t rain yesterday.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 67.5 degrees.

This is going to be a nice weekend in the Smokies at least until sometime tomorrow. Tomorrow, there is a chance for severe thunderstorms.  With it may come heavy rain and strong wind.  The chance is only 30% during the day but that increases to 60% in the evening.

Fishing should be fairly good today and tomorrow.  The water levels are dropping so stealth and good fly presentation are very important to your success.  I would start with dry flies, probably a Yellow Sally Stonefly imitation or a black foam beetle of some sort.  We like Mike’s Magic Beetle.  It’s easy to see, it has legs and the pattern was designed by our friend and guide, Mike Adams.

It is going to be hot, so I would venture into the backcountry, most likely above the Elkmont Campground.  There will be less people and cooler water. 

I’ve got a feeling the Park is going to be crowded this weekend at least until the rain arrives tomorrow, if it does.  This is vacation season.  Today, we will see swimmers, tubers and rock skippers along the roads.  A short walk into the backcountry can get you away from that activity.

I was talking to a customer yesterday about trolling motors on boats.  He was touting the convenience of electronic remote controlled motors with GPS navigation.  I told him, I manage with a tiller steered trolling motor.  He reminded me, I don’t fish on weekends.  He does.  I got his point.  He said the lakes are a zoo on weekends.  I wouldn’t know.  I work on weekends and fish on weekdays.

I hardly see anyone on the lakes when we go fishing.  Sometimes, we have the only rig on the ramp.

Ronnie, our Police Chief came in to visit this week.  He told me he is seeing trout and smallmouth bass busting shad on the lakes in the evening.  Ronnie fishes Tellico Lake for walleye.  He fishes the other lakes on the Little Tennessee River too, mostly for walleye.

I have never caught a walleye in Tennessee.  I guess the reason is, I’m using a fly rod and fishing shallow water.  You would think I would get lucky at some point.  I did catch a big yellow perch last year, fishing for smallmouth bass with a Wooly Bugger.  It was 13 inches long.  Ronnie said people are catching them larger than that, up to 15 inches.  Our state record yellow perch stands at 15”.

I’ve never caught a paddlefish.  I know people who have and they caught them on a fly rod.  I suspect the fish were somehow snagged by accident unless there is some really good plankton pattern out there I don’t know about.

I used to catch chain pickerel on a pretty regular basis.  That was when Normandy Lake was formed by impounding the Duck River in Middle Tennessee.  I fished there often in the 70’s.  That lake was loaded with pickerel back then.  According to Tennessee Valley Authority, “the Duck River watershed is one of the most biologically diverse river systems in the nation”.  That would explain the chain pickerel. I never caught one anywhere else in Tennessee.

Today and tomorrow is our last beginner fly fishing class before the August break.  We take a break in August because, nobody seems to want to learn in August.  We held them for several years and hardly anyone signed up.  Maybe it’s too hot.

People who visit Townsend, take a break in August, or that’s our experience.  It didn’t used to be that way.  Kids are going back to school in August these days.  I remember going back to school in September when I was a kid.

I think some anglers in the South stay indoors more during that month due to the heat.  We notice a lull in our mail order business from the Southern States during August.  I guess we fish less. 

Tailwater trout anglers do well in August for the most part.  I like August because there are so many big terrestrial insects flying and crawling around.  Summer fishing with terrestrials can be awesome.  Try them on your favorite tailwater that holds trout populations.  When everyone else is fishing tiny midges, you might just catch the heck out of them using big black beetles. 

Be careful in the mountains tomorrow.  Watch for rising water.  It’s kind of unclear when and what to expect so just be on the lookout for any changes.

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

Byron Begley
July 26, 2014 

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com


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