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 5:55 am, it is a very cool 60.3 degrees in Townsend.  There is no chance for rain today or tomorrow.  It will be hot both days.  Humidity should be much lower than we’ve experienced lately.  Yesterday felt great, despite the heat.


Little River is flowing below normal at 94 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.45 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 139 cfs.  The water temperature is 69.8 degrees, just inside the Park at the Townsend entrance.


The streams are getting lower by the day. With no rain expected until later next week, that will continue.  The water is still warm in the low elevations. 

You and the trout will be better off, if you fish in the high elevations, where the water is colder.  Pull out your low water tactics and use them.  Wear muted clothing, sneak up on the stream, use lighter tippet and fish the choppy water.  Dry flies or nymphs will work.  Try terrestrials.

Easy access to high elevation streams is available by driving up the mountain on Highway 441 toward Cherokee from Sugarlands.  There are many tributaries feeding the West Prong of the Little Pigeon.  Pick a tributary or fish the main stream.  You can also hike from just about anywhere, on a trail, next to a stream.  That combination occurs all over the Park.  Keep walking and you will eventually find cold water. 


You may some wade fishing opportunities on the Clinch and Holston rivers this morning.  Check the TVA website and determine what works for you.  Both dams will be generating at times, most likely this afternoon.


Go early or late when the sun is off the water.  You may enjoy some top water action late, until dark.  Poppers or threadfin shad patterns are what I would use. Larger bluegill may be caught fishing deep using “Dragon” type flies.  If you plan to fish when the sun is shining on the water, during the day, cast to the shaded banks.  Carp are feeding on the flats.  Sight fishing for them can be a lot of fun, or frustrating, if you are like me.  I haven’t figured that sport out.


Yesterday, I met with Brad Redmon, who is in charge of the construction part of the Hatchery Creek Project, below Wolf Creek Dam. Hatchery Creek forms at the outflow of the National Fish Hatchery.

For as long as I can remember, water flowed from the hatchery, directly to the Cumberland River, down a straight incised ditch.  This project is diverting the water, along a course, over 1 mile long to the river.  The stream is built to simulate a natural waterway, with riffles, plunge pools, braided channels, small ponds, wetlands and spawning beds.  Weather permitting, the project should be complete by this Fall or Spring 2016.

The goal is to establish a catch and release fishery, while providing habitat conducive to trout spawning.  The Cumberland River has a large population of rainbow, brown and brook trout.  You can learn all about this project by watching the video below and you should.  It is fascinating.


Brad and I were talking about Fall spawn rainbow trout yesterday. There are Fall spawn strains and according to the National Park Service biologists, there are populations living in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  These fish were probably stocked decades ago.

You should look this up.  It is a great topic for discussion.  I know little about it, but from what I have read, it makes sense to hatch rainbows in the Fall, then hatch more in the Spring.

I read about protocols, using light and even injecting hormones to force spawning at any time.  I read about hatcheries, who raise both, Spring and Fall spawned trout.  That practice increases production. It seems, from what I read, the offspring spawn when their parents spawned.  Again, I’m no expert and I’ve read very little about this.  I have heard about it, many times, over the years.    

I found some pages, published in British Columbia, on the subject.  It is not exactly clear, as there is not much detail, but you can read it by CLICKING HERE

I also read, this hatchery starves the fish for a while before stocking.  I assume that is done so the trout are eager to be caught when released.

It appears we are “Fooling Mother Nature”. Is it good or bad? I don’t know.

A fisheries biologist told Brad, there should be pre-spawn, spawning, and post spawn trout, in Hatchery Creek, 10 months out of the  year.  Interesting.

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

Byron Begley
August 1, 2015

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