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 dark, 6:15 am and 68 degrees on the outskirts of Townsend, Tennessee.  I haven’t checked our rain gauge at home.  It is early and the gauge is at our barn.  The airport however, got over 1” of rain.  It poured here early last evening.  I’ll check our gauge after daylight.

Townsend has been very quiet this week.  The kids have gone back to school.  This is transition time. 

Fall will be here soon.  That will all change then.  Everyone in town, who owns a business, is hoping for a busy fall.  If fall turns out like the summer has, it will be busy.

Little River is flowing at 214 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.92 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 108 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:15 am is a warm 67.5 degrees.

Fishing is good in the Smokies.  Trout are taking dry flies, most any reasonable pattern.  I would have some Elk Hair Caddis, Neversink Caddis or small Stimulators (all yellow) in my fly box.  A black foam beetle pattern would be another good choice.  For sure, I would have some Green Weenies.  They are working extremely well. 

Mother Nature is turning up the BTU’s this week.  Highs through Saturday will be near or above 90 degrees.  Lows will be around 70 degrees.  That trend will continue through the weekend and into next week.

For better fishing and the health of the trout, I would fish in the higher elevations until it cools off.  Warmer water means lower dissolved oxygen.  Trout don’t like that.  They will hunker down and the pesky warpaint shiners will beat the trout to your fly.  They will be very active in the low elevations.

Hike above Elkmont.  Go all the way to Fish Camp Prong and other tributaries to the East Prong of Little River.  You will find cold water higher up on Thunderhead Prong.  Drive to Walker Camp Prong, the West Prong of the Little Pigeon.  Fish those streams and their tributaries.  You will find cold water and happy trout higher up. 

We have plenty of water.  We have a chance for rain every day, probably in the form of scattered afternoon thunderstorms.  So, even with the heat, fishing may continue to be good all week.  The rain could miss us completely and the water levels could drop.  But right now, the conditions are excellent in the mid to high elevation streams.

Frank and I are floating the Cumberland River in Kentucky next week for two days.  Our guide is Hagan Won.  Wolf Creek Dam has gone through a long period of repairs.  The dam was leaking and even considered to be a candidate for a breach.  The Corps of Engineers spent millions and years correcting the problems.  Lake Cumberland, the largest impoundment east of the Mississippi River was drawn down to take pressure off the dam. 

Recreational boating and fishing on Lake Cumberland was adversely affected.  The marinas and other tourism related businesses went through some awful times.  Then, last year, the dam was deemed repaired and the lake was gradually filled.

The tailwater below was impacted by constant heavy flows for several years in order to keep the lake level low.  This jewel of a fishery in Kentucky was not living up to it’s former designation of, best tailwater in the East.  I think it was the best tailwater in the East and many other fishermen agree.

After years of turmoil in the river below Wolf Creek Dam, fishing for trout has turned on. Fishing is excellent again.  I talked to Bill yesterday in the shop.  He and some buddies fished there last month with Rocky Cox and Hagan Won as their guides.  Fishing the first day was slow.  A cold front blew through.  The second day was awesome.  Bill said the trout they caught were mostly large and unbelievably heavy for their length.

I talked to Tom Schrodt a few weeks ago.  He was one of the authors of the new book, Fly Fishing Kentucky.  He told me the same thing about the Cumberland River.  Fishing is great and the trout are big and fat.

The fishing will only get better.  Also, a new stream is under construction from the National Hatchery to a point downstream where it will join the Cumberland River.  The stream will be over a mile long.  It is called Hatchery Creek.  This stream will be built and designed to be a perfect trout fishery and spawning habitat.  It was projected to be finished this fall.  I don’t know if they will meet that goal.  Frank and I will see it for ourselves next week.

Many of you live near there.  You should check this out.  I would contact the Lexington Angler in Lexington, Kentucky.  They can fill you in and help you plan a fishing trip.  They are nice folks and experts on that river and other fly fishing destinations in “The Bluegrass State”.

I grew up in Kentucky, between Lexington and Richmond.  I spent my childhood fishing Lake Cumberland.  I’m really looking forward to going back next week and I’ll have more information for you upon my return.

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

Byron Begley
August 19, 2014

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