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 this morning at 7 am and 59 degrees outside.  It feels like Fall. 

The water temperature in Little River dropped all day yesterday, starting at nearly 70 degrees early yesterday morning.  This morning, the temperature is 66 degrees.  That trend will continue.

The flow in Little River is perfect at 145 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.69 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 74 cfs. 

You could not ask for better fishing conditions in mid September.  Fishing is very good.

Fishing conditions yesterday were excellent.  It was cloudy and cool all day.  Today should be about the same, cloudy and cool with a high of only 75 degrees or lower. 

You should be in the mountains fishing today.

Trout are taking dries and nymphs.  Terrestrials are working.  Give a foam beetle a shot. For sure, use a Green Weenie.

You will do much better in the lower elevation streams now that the water is cooler.  Try the Middle and West Prongs of Little River.  Abrams Creek is fishing very well. You will catch mostly rainbows but they are fat and very healthy.  David Knapp said he caught his largest rainbow of the year there last week.  Occasionally, browns have been reportedly caught this year.  Someone must be stocking brown trout on the sly. 

Browns were stocked discretely, by one or more local people, many years ago.  Though the brown trout grew to be very large, for some reason, the population did not take off like everyone thought would happen. 

I was there 20 years ago helping the Park Service Fisheries Crew do some population sampling.  We captured one 28” brown and several others that were smaller.  Eventually, the brown trout population went away.  It’s probably been 10 to 15 years since I’ve heard of a brown trout being caught in Abrams Creek until recently.  I think, whoever stocked the creek decades ago, did not stock enough.

Stocking any fish in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is illegal and could be detrimental to the current species populations.  I would not want to be caught doing it.

Government stocking of trout in the Smoky Mountains ceased in the early 70s.  Natural reproduction of wild trout sustain the populations now.  Some trout migrate into the Park from outside, where they are stocked for recreation purposes by Tennessee and North Carolina.  Cherokee, NC. and Gatlinburg, TN have their own hatcheries.  But, for the most part, what you catch in the Smokies are wild fish, born and raised in the Southern Appalachians.  They are not fed trout food.  They are free range feeders.

We would all like to see big browns in Abrams Creek.  On the other hand, that stream is home to a few rare, and even threatened and endangered species, mostly darters and madtoms.

Fishing is the only consumptive activity allowed in National Parks.  Everything else is protected.  You are not allowed to dig plants or hunt deer.  But you can catch and keep a fish.  Some people wonder why. 

I have asked the same question, though I’m not in favor of changing the rules of course.  The answer I’ve always heard is, “It’s always been that way”.  It has.  Fishing was allowed in our first National Park from the beginning.  I’m referring to Yellowstone National Park.

One of Townsend’s fine businesses made history recently and the story was featured on a Knoxville television station.  CLICK HERE to watch the story.  The Parkway Grocery has severed over 1 million hot dogs.  I’ve eaten several hundred myself.  Mine always have chili and mustard.  The most common concoction sold there is the slaw dog. 

I’ve known Steve Headrick since he started that business in the 90’s.  Locals know it as “The Parkway”.  Tourists refer to the business as the Phillips 66.  Once you get inside, especially during the lunch hour, you will see people lined up to order and buy slaw dogs.  They serve great sandwiches too.  Steve put tables in the market a few years ago so people could sit down to eat.  There is a picnic table outside to be used for the same purpose.  Nice folks work there.  Nice folks eat there.

Lots of fishermen have found the Parkway and those awesome hot dogs. I hear it all the time. 

Steve is a great guy.  His parents own the Highland Manor Inn.  I’ve know his mom longer than I’ve known Steve.  I stayed at the Highland Manor many times before moving here.  Steve’s mother, Sandy, was always at the motel, making sure every guest had a great experience.  I remember when Steve married and started having kids.  One of them is in college now. 

It is nice, living in a small town, where most businesses are family owned.  Most times, when you visit a business here, you will be talking to the owner or the owner is there somewhere.  It’s the same with us.  Daniel is an owner.  You almost always see Daniel in our store. My job is keeping the books and taking our online presence to a new level.  I work mostly from home these days.  Daniel runs the store.

Now, when you walk into the Parkway to get a slaw dog, you will see a sign that reads, “Over 1 Million Served”.  Now that you know, you should stop in a buy a slaw dog (get two), if you can find a place to park.  If not, just wait a minute and someone will pull out.

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

Byron Begley
September 14, 2014

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