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 outside and 70 degrees.  I didn’t rain last night.  We are glad about that.  The guys will be pouring concrete today at our house.

There is rain in our forecast with a greater chance this weekend.  It is going to be cooler too, though still warmer than normal.  It appears next week will be even cooler. 

Little River is flowing at 79 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.42 feet on the flow gauge. Median flow for this date is 100 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:30 am is 71 degrees.

Fishing is good in the higher elevations.  The water is warm down low.  Try a dry and a dropper.  Some people are catching trout on dries while others are doing better using nymphs.  I would use a Yellow Neversink Caddis or some sort of foam beetle for the dry. Behind that, I would drag a Green Weenie or a bead head nymph. 

Water levels in the Smokies are likely to fluctuate over the next several days.  Flows are about normal or a little below normal.  You will need to be aware that these trout are spooky but hungry.  Try to find cooler water.  The trout will be more active.

Several of my friends have fishing kayaks and more are buying them.  Kayak fishing is very popular and growing.  Frank and Mouse are trying to figure out which ones to buy.  Paula and I have fishing kayaks, Wilderness Systems Ride 135’s.  They are 32 inches wide, stable and if you are offshore and encounter rough water, those boats handle it well.  I’ve been in 3’ swells in mine. 

In a kayak, you can get very close to fish.  Short casts are fine if you are seated.  The fish don’t see you.  If you are standing, you may need to make longer casts. 

I really never think about it happening when kayaking in the ocean.  In May I saw a shark swim under my kayak, 2 or 3 feet below the surface.  I think it was 5 or 6 feet long.  I just watched him swim away.  I think this one was a bull shark.  I kept on fishing.  I’ve seen hundreds of sharks.

Two women in Plymouth, Massachusetts had a different experience yesterday.  They and their kayaks were attacked by a 14 to 16 foot great white shark 100 yards off shore.  The kayaks were flipped over and bitten by the shark.  Both women are OK.  I guess you could say they were unlucky, or lucky.

Paula, Jack and I have all paddled at least a mile off shore.

Jack and I were wade fishing in St. Joe Bay a few years ago.  He was in deeper water, waist deep.  A large bull shark, 8 feet long, swam right up to Jack.  It turned, left, then came back to him.  Jack slowly waded back to where I was standing, closer to shore.  I had no idea why Jack would stop fishing.  He doesn’t do that.

He had a look in his eyes like I’ve never seen.  I had never seen Jack scared. He said he slapped the water with his fly rod at one point, right on top of the shark.  Now that was a frightening experience.

He and I were fishing near an island at Cedar Key, Florida.  We were wading at least 100 yards apart.  I looked at Jack for a moment and he was pointing in my direction.  I think I heard him shout.  Finally I looked down.  A fin was sticking out of the water about 2 feet in front of me.  It was a shark, a bonnet head.  I stepped back a few feet and the shark was gone.  Bonnet head sharks are usually harmless. 

Fly fishing in a wild environment does have some risk.  Here, you are likely to be near a black bear.  That also happens at our house, way more often than we think. Out west or in Alaska, you might encounter a grizzly.  And, in the ocean, sharks are usually nearby.  The chance of something bad happening is very unlikely.  You are much more likely to have a fatal fall or drown.  You are more likely to be struck by lightning or hit by a falling tree.  I almost always wear a life jacket in our boat or in a kayak in deep water.  I head for shelter when I hear thunder. 

It would be hard to enjoy fly fishing if I worried about being attacked by a shark or a bear so, I don’t think about it.  The chance of that happening is so small, it’s not worth worrying about in my opinion.  I do worry about falling, drowning and even being struck by lightning.

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

Byron Begley
September 4, 2014

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