August 25, 2009
Welcome to the Fishing Report. It is very foggy in Townsend this morning. I can barely see Trillium Cove Shopping Center. I’m here early because I have a 10:00 meeting at the Visitors Center. I saw one motorcycle on the road coming to work and that was it. It is quiet out there.
The water is cooler in Little River. The flow is perfect at 195 cubic feet per second. Normal for this date is 106 cfs and the lowest recorded flow on this date was 22 cfs in 2007.
That was the longest summer I can remember since being in the fly fishing business. Anglers kept coming in and telling me about the dead trout they saw. I saw them too. It was not something I want to see again. Monitoring by biologists indicated the rainbow population took a big hit. But for some reason the brown trout survived. The brook trout did too. And the rainbows that didn’t perish had a successful spawn. They are coming back. This year they are fat and healthy, there are just not as many of them. You probably won’t notice. Anglers only catch a small percentage of the trout in the streams.
Fishing pressure and anglers keeping what they catch have little effect on the trout population in the Smokies. What really changes the numbers of fish are droughts and floods. We know what the drought in 2007 did. That is in our recent memory and we witnessed pools with dead trout laying on the bottom. But floods take their toll too. A properly timed flood after a spawn can pretty much wipe out an age class in a stream be it rainbows, browns or brook trout. And, when that happens we notice that the trout are larger the next year. Less trout, same amount of food equals larger trout.
But now the fishing is good. There is plenty of water, healthy trout and cool evening temperatures will make the fishing even better. I would use terrestrials right now. My choice would be a foam beetle dry with a Green Weenie dropper. Or I might just fish the Green Weenie weighted.
The baitfish are “balling up” in the lakes and tailwaters. A lot of anglers are switching gears and trying to catch those big stripers. I’m tying Puglisi Threadfin Shad every night in sizes from 1” long to 2” long. Paula and I are planning to go fishing on one of the lakes around here Friday. We are hoping to find fish in the jumps. Threadfin Shad patterns are deadly on lakes and tailwaters. They are a good forage fish because they don’t get too large. And they have an unusual life. Spawning takes place at different times in the Spring through the Fall. So there are several sizes in a given body of water at any time. You can be surprised to find 1” threadfin shad in September and larger ones earlier in the year. And that might change from year to year.
In severe winters many of the shad die unless they find warmer water. When that happens the fishing below the dams can be remarkable. Dead or dying shad are flushed through the turbines and trout or other species are waiting for the big winter meal. The fishing can be awesome during the shad kill. I’ve read they die when the water temperature reaches 40 degrees. That is why the threadfin shad’s range does not extend into the Northern States. They do better in the Southeast.
I remember one year in the 70’s when Percy Priest Lake froze over. I was living in Nashville at the time. I heard about a place called Spring Creek. A huge spring which is now underwater since the lake was backed up pumps out an enormous volume of 58 degree water. That creek was about the only open water on the lake. The shad were either drawn to that location or they died. And the stripers were there too, lots of them. This place was hard to get to and required 4 wheel drive. But the fishing was as good as any I have ever experienced. Hardly anyone knew about it. Only a few of us braved the frigid conditions. And I bet that lake has not frozen over since.
Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.
August 25, 2009
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