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 cloudy and 68 degrees in Townsend this morning.  We had a brief thunderstorm earlier. 

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is overcast and 68 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic is very light.  It is August, which is historically a slow tourism month in the Smokies.  If I were planning a summer vacation to Townsend, especially this year, I would choose August.  During the week, it is quiet. 

We got 1 ¼” of rain yesterday on top of ¼” the day before.  Little River started rising quickly.  But, to everyone’s surprise, the river peaked at 2.2 feet.  That’s a little high.  But we take beginner students on the water at levels up to 2.5 feet.  So, Little River didn’t get blown out even though the rain was heavy at times.  Little River is muddy downstream from Townsend.

Right now Little River in town looks “AWESOME”.  Ronnie, who has a weekend home on the river, was talking to a fly fisherman in his back yard this morning.  We waved when I drove by.

Flow is 153 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.75 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 116 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 67.5 degrees.  The weather radar does not indicate any rain or storms in our area right now.  Some other streams outside the Little River watershed may be high.  Right here, right now, conditions are perfect.

Since I don’t know what the other rivers in the Park look like, I would fish the Elmont area of the East Prong.  The Middle Prong has been warm and people are telling me the fishing has been slow.  They are catching trout on the Middle and West Prongs of Little River, but higher up seems to be better.  The water is cooler.  It may be prudent to drive or hike higher.  Walker Camp Prong and it’s tributaries might be very good.  Fishing has been super up there lately.  We don’t know what the water conditions are like today.

Dry flies may work well today but I would lean toward nymphs at first.  Tributaries are pushing terrestrial food into the rivers.  The trout are having a very nice dining day.  I would consider a Green Weenie or San Juan Worm for the first fly of the day.  If that doesn’t work try dry flies. 

Be on the lookout for rising water.  The rain is not over according to the weather websites.  The National Weather Service predicts an 80% chance for rain today mostly in the form of afternoon thunderstorms, with some having the potential to be strong or marginally severe.  Again, you should be out there this morning.  The conditions are perfect in the Little River.  Just be careful and watch for stained or rising water.

The longer-term weather outlook indicates the chance for rain is 70% tonight, 60% tomorrow and Monday and 40% Tuesday.  I think we’ll get some more rain.  Temperatures are going to be nice too.  Expect highs in the mid-80’s.  This has been a great Summer for fishing in the mountains.  There are times when it has been dry or too wet.  But, for the most part, it’s been a great year.

Our business has been unbelievable.  Every day Daniel and I comment on how and why.  We don’t know why.  What we do know is how.  It’s the mail order side driving our increases right now.  Last week was up 55% over last year.  July was up 21%.  The second week of August is starting out strong. It has been a good year.

He and I decided to make our internet presence the highest priority this year.  I’m trying to create a new online store.  I’m having a hard time getting it done.  So, beginning Monday, I’m moving my office home where I won’t have distractions.  My plan is to write the fishing report early, maybe at 6 am.  Then I’ll come to the store and do the photography I need for the day.  At closing time I’ll show up here and do the bookkeeping for that day.  I think I’ll do this for maybe 3 months or more.  Instead of working 9 to 11 hours per day, I’ll be working 12 hours per day, more effectively except for the 4, five minute commutes from home, to the store and back.  I may need some sort of remote method and computer to connect to our point of sale system from home.

We think we can see into the future.  I’ve owned a business over 40 years.  We’ve been in this business 19 years, starting on 20.  We have seen a lot of changes.  Many mom and pop, small retail businesses have closed due to the economy, internet sales, chain stores and big box stores.  The landscape has changed.

And now, of all things, some big box stores are not performing as well, including Walmart.  That company reported a decline in same store sales just a few months ago.  Who would have thought that would happen?  Their U.S. same store sales in the United States were down slightly in the 4th quarter of 2013 according to Forbes.

I can't tell you how many abandoned shopping centers and malls I see when I do actually leave Townsend to go on a fishing or hunting trip. New shopping centers and malls open and others close, in the same town.

I believe, we will see more small retail stores close in the distant future, (including fly shops) with a net reduction in units.  Nobody can convince me otherwise and I’m willing to bet the farm.  Big box may experience the same fate though more slowly.  Mail order will not.  I think mail order will continue to grow.  After all, most people I know have a device in their pocket that can be used to shop from anywhere and they like using them.  I don’t have a smart phone and have no plans to buy one. I do order online or by calling companies like Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops.

We don’t plan to close our retail store, far from it.  But someday, maybe in my lifetime, Little River Outfitters could morph into a total mail order company.  If that happens, we won’t be the only one. 

One of the most interesting things about business is, it is always changing. Business is challenging.  Having money on the line to lose makes it even more fun, for some people.  

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

Byron Begley
August 9, 2014  

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