Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is already warm in Townsend this morning.  And our store won’t open for another hour.  Traffic and activity around town seemed more brisk than normal.  Little River is getting low again.  That is likely to change.  The chance for rain will be higher over the next few days when the cold front moves in.  Cold front?  Well not exactly.  They are predicting a high of 87  and a low of 65 on Thursday of next week.  The other days will be similar.  But, the normal low for next Thursday is 62 degrees and the normal high is 84.  It is going to be close to normal but not what I would call cold.

Flow in Little River is currently 107 cubic feet per second.  Median flow for this date is 116 cfs.  The water temperature was 72 degrees earlier at the swinging bridge.  There was a family on the swinging bridge this morning just standing there talking and watching the river flow by. 

Fishing is good in the Smokies.  I heard that twice yesterday from a couple of experienced anglers.  You still have to follow the rules of low water.  Stay hidden, don’t spook the trout with a sloppy cast and get a good drift.  I got an e-mail from a customer yesterday who said he was here a week ago and had his best fishing ever in the Park.  I think Ethan’s description of how to catch trout clicked with this fellow.  Like me, it takes time to decide that fishing from a squatting position can be the right thing to do.  For me, that is getting harder to do.

Our fly recommendations are still the same.  Ants, beetles, Green Weenies, Yellow Sally stonefly imitations and, well, that’s about it.

Last week a reporter from the Knoxville News Sentinel came by and wanted to interview me. He want to talk to me about the drop in visitation in the National Park and other National Parks.  I declined the interview. I really was covered up with work and had some deadlines.  He had not made an appointment either.  I don’t like to talk to the press about this or anything else that is negative to our town.  I declined an interview recently because I felt it might put Tennessee Valley Authority in a undeserved negative perspective. 

But, the facts are right there for everyone to see.  Less people are visiting the Smokies and that trend has been evident to me for a while.  Read this article on the KNOXNEWS WEBSITE BY CLICKING HERE.  Park visitation is down 13% this year.  It was down 17.6% in June.  Frontcountry camping was down 10.5% in June.  By the way, I know Bob Miller at the Park and Mary Webb at the Visitor’s Center well.  What they say is the way it is.

Peak visitation in the Park occurred in 1999 with 10.3 million visitors.  The number in 2010 was down by 800,000.  And this year is worse.  Other National Parks like Big South Fork are experiencing similar declines.  The Townsend Visitors Center is trending the same way.

So, how does that effect Little River Outfitters and what are we going to do about it?  That is a very good question.  Our declines have been small over the past three years compared to the overall picture but they are declines just the same.  I have been struggling with this lack of outdoor activity and the economy too.  I have been a business owner and operator since 1973. I’m used to struggles and solutions.  I like the challenge and trying to fix the problems.  But this one is going to take some major planning and changes.  And believe me, I am working on it hard.

Last year I spent approximately 500 hours doing volunteer work.  The big project was our town’s property owner’s problem with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  I think I spent 300 hours on that.  Second was Troutfest.  That took around 200 hours of my time.  I could only document 150 hours to turn in for matching funds for the Park but I know I spent more time than that.  I serve on the planning commission. And, I get pulled into other city issues.  Well I shed the TDOT problem because my part of it is settled and my job as liaison between the City and the State ended.  I also turned over Troutfest to Bill Guinn.  Now I’m simply a member of the marketing committee and finance committee for Troutfest. With that new 10 hours per week to devote to our business and an extra 1.5 hours a day by coming in before we open to write this report, all of a sudden, I’ve got a lot of time to make some things happen.  I work 6 days a week. I picked up 18 hours per week by coming in early and eliminating most of the volunteer work.

I’m in the process of taking over the buying for our store and making progress fast.  And I’m working on a plan to utilize the 7,000 square feet in this building and the 50 car parking lot on our 1.25 acre property more efficiently.  We only need parking for 20 cars.  My plan is to double our sales by selling high ticket items and setting up a factory authorized warranty service center on some of those products. 

I spent a long time in the printing and dry cleaning business since 1973 with many stores and lots of big equipment.  The time was over 30 years in printing and about 23 in the drycleaning business.  I developed a skill for most of my adult life of keeping machinery running all day and performing functions.   They include pumping fluids, blowing air, filtering, motors turning things, suction, cooling, making steam, discharging fluids, picking up sheets of paper at the rate of 9,000 per hour, air switches and a bunch of other stuff.  I bet those skills can be utilized here. 

Whatever we do, it will be done to serve anglers in their sport.  It will capitalize on the 2 million visitors who come to Townsend each year.  And it will benefit from the 1.2 million people who visit this website each year.  You can count on that. “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it will achieve”.

Won’t this be fun?

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

Byron Begley

Respond to: Byron@LittleRiverOutfitters.com


FLY FISHING CLASSES

Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:


Saturday September 10 – Beginner Day One
Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com


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