Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report from Townsend, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is 6:09 am and the temperature is 52.2 degrees.  Today’ high temperature will be in the high 60’s.  Tonight’s low will be in the 40’s.  This is camping weather.  It’s fishing weather too.  There is no rain in the forecast for several days.  It will be warmer later this week.

Little River is flowing at 54 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.19 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 87 cfs.  The water temperature is 65.7 degrees.  I don’t think the water temperature will rise much today. It didn’t yesterday. It may cool further this morning.   

You should be able to fish about anywhere in the Park, including the large rivers in the lower elevations.  Check the temperature and if it climbs to the high 60’s, drive higher. It is cold in the high elevations right now, where these streams are born. 

Though the water is low, the trout will be active.  Fish the broken water, in pockets, plunge pools and at the edge of fast runs.  Keep a low profile and blend in.  Dry flies and nymphs will both produce strikes.

If you fish high, take some warm clothes.  It is going to be a beautiful Sunday, a great day to enjoy the mountains.

You may have some wade fishing opportunities on the Clinch and Holston this morning but they plan to generate so check the TVA website and see if you can work with their schedule.

The lowland rivers are all flowing low in our area.  It doesn’t look like that will change much this week.  They will actually get even lower.

If you live in Middle Tennessee, my old stomping grounds, take a look at the generation schedule for the Caney Fork.  TVA plans to run one generator between 9 am and 11 am.  They say they will stop generating after eleven.  Back in the day, I would be at the water’s edge right now, further down stream, pulling my waders on.  Check the TVA website yourself before you go. 

David Knapp, Frank Bryant and I plan to float the Caney Fork soon.  We’ll have to pick a day when David is not guiding.  Frank and I are ready at the drop of a hat.  I can’t wait.  I love that river.  I used to fish the Caney about every week years ago.

Before the internet, we called TVA and actually talked to someone, to get the generation schedules.  The conversation always ended with the words, “Subject to change”.  And it often did. 

I remember one day I was gearing up to fish the Caney Fork at the rest area on I-40.  While walking to the river I was stopped by someone, a man, who worked at the rest area.  He told me I could not go fishing.  He said, “Don’t you know it is against the law to fish on State property?”  I was young and bold back then.  I told him he was wrong and kept walking.  He said he was going to call the State Police.  I told him to go ahead, and I kept walking.  I fished all day and caught lots of trout.  I didn’t see one policeman that day. 

“I’ve fished on State property all my life”.

I did get caught once, parking on the Interstate shoulder, and trying to slip down to the river at a bridge.  A trooper pulled up behind my truck as I was quickly unloading my gear.  I didn’t argue with him.  He was right.  I knew I was running afoul of the law. He knew it and I knew it.  There was nothing else to say except how sorry I was and how fly fishing sometimes makes me do things I would not normally do. 

Back then, if a trooper found an abandoned vehicle on the Interstate, they would place a yellow sticker, which was a warning, on the drivers side window.  After that, they would ignore the vehicle because they knew the warning had been placed by them or another trooper.

I owned a printing company.  I could print some of those stickers.  I schemed in my mind, about jumping out of my truck, with my gear in hand and waders on, put a fake sticker on the window, then, run down to the river.  I would do anything back then for some great fishing, but chickened out.  It never happened.  With my luck, they would change the color of the stickers on my trial run.

I would not have actually printed a warning on that yellow sheet of paper.  It could have had anything printed on it.  Those troopers can’t read what is written, while driving by at 70 miles per hour.  I probably would have printed something like, “I want to thank the Tennessee State Highway Patrol, for checking my disabled truck, on my behalf as a Tennessee tax paying citizen, in my time of need”.

Still, I would be in big trouble, all just to catch trout in an isolated area, nobody could get to except by canoe.  The trout were probably big and dumb.  They had probably never seen a fly.  I would hook a 20” trout on every cast.  I bet there were some 10-pound browns down there.  Thinking back, I’m surprised I didn’t try. I could just imagine what it would be like trying to explain my passion for fly fishing to a Judge in Smith County.  I bet he or she would have understood.  Maybe he or she would not have understood.

It is dawn.  I stepped outside and it is chilly.  Today is a perfect Fall day, or at least it feels like one.

The shop will open at 9 am.  Paul and Dan will be there until 5 pm.  We are always open on Sunday.  We have a beginner fly fishing class today, on stream, in the Park. I’m going in sometime today to pay bills, the part of my job I hate the most.  Otherwise, I’ll be updating the Fishpond section of our online store here at home. 

Get out and have fun today, fly fishing somewhere.

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

Byron Begley
September 13, 2015

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