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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Townsend, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains.  At 5:56 am, the temperature is 52 degrees.  We should have a high temperature today of 80 degrees with sunshine and no chance for rain.  There is no rain expected through Saturday, and temperatures will be about what we are having now, through the rest of the week. 

Little River is flowing at 38 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.09 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 79 cfs.  The water temperature is 60.8 degrees this morning.

I would fish the low to mid elevation streams, due to the low water.  The sun will be bright today. Fishing will be best early and late or find shaded areas in the rivers.  You will find low water everywhere you go this week in the Smokies.  I like fishing the larger rivers when the water is low, if the water temperature is cool enough, and it is today.

Fish dry flies, nymphs or a combination of both, using a nymph as a dropper.  Good fly choices are Yellow Neversink Caddis and Rob’s Hellbender as a dry fly.  I would use a Green Weenie for sub-surface fishing.

The fishing conditions we have now, with this low water is not what most fishermen like.  You have to be careful not to spook the trout and that takes effort.  You have to be sneaky and blend in.  But, the water temperatures are cool, which helps. If you have trouble catching trout when the water is low, it would help to hire a guide, and learn what to do.  That could change your whole perspective about fishing in low water. 

Being in the business, we hear reports from customers every day.  One will walk in and talk about how slow the fishing is.  Then, 5 minutes later, another comes in and talks about how good the fishing is.  And that usually happens, when the water is low.

The streams are usually low in the Fall, just not as low as they are now.  For instance, Little River is flowing today at half normal flow.  Last week, it was flowing above normal, at times.   

The long term weather forecast does not indicate much of a chance for rain until next Monday. 

The tailwaters are fishing well if you can catch the right generation schedule or use a boat.

Right now, the Clinch River is flowing low and generation for the day won’t begin until 10 am, unless the schedule changes.  If you are several miles downstream from the dam, you could have good fishing conditions for a while.  Check the schedule yourself before going.  Learn how long it takes for higher water to reach the lower river.  Over time, you will learn.  You have to look at how much water was released from the dam during the night too.  That affects the water levels in the morning. 

I fished tailwaters often, 25+ years ago.  I fished the Caney Fork below Center Hill Dam and sometimes the Elk River below Tims Ford Reservoir.  I learned to predict flows, and moved up and down the river to fish where those flows were where I liked them to be.  Back then, we had to use phones and call to get the flow schedules.  Now, we can see them online.

I started a list this morning, of my favorite places I have fly fished during my life.  These destinations are not in order by preference.  One is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Other destinations on that list are: Boiling Springs Pennsylvania, Roscoe, New York, Panacea, Florida, Green River, Utah, West Yellowstone, Montana,  Hubbards Yellowstone Lodge in Montana and Dale Hollow Reservoir in Tennessee.  I just added another, Little Juniata River, Pennsylvania. And another, the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky. Add the Caney Fork River in Tennessee.

The list would not be complete without Gates Au Sable Lodge in Grayling, Michigan.  I just added Manistee and Baldwin, Michigan and Livingston, Montana.

When I say, this place is one of my favorites, it does not necessarily mean the fishing is the best.  Usually, the fishing is good if the fishing conditions happen to be good when I’m there.  Many other factors play in.  Scenery, food, local culture, fly shops, history, accommodations and people are important to me, along with the fishing.

You can probably tell, most of these are trout fishing destinations.  I’ve spent most of my life fly fishing for trout.  But, Panacea is known for fly fishing for tarpon and I’ve been there many times.

One place, that really sticks out in my mind this morning, is Boiling Springs.  I think I made my first visit there in 1982.  Back then, it was a quaint little town, near Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  I kept going back and it remained a quaint little town.  I’ve heard it has grown.  The place to stay is Allenberry Inn and Resort, on Yellow Breeches Creek.

I first met my friend Joe Humphreys at Allenberry, on that first visit. I think I’ve only been two or three times, that my buddy Frank was not with me.  He loves it there too. We used to go there often.

Fishing on Yellow Breeches Creek is easy.  It is heavily stocked.  If you want more of a challenge, Big Spring Creek is nearby.  Then if you want to get your rear end kicked by wild brown trout, fish Letort Spring Creek.

The food is excellent, not only at Allenberry, but at other eating establishments as well.  The scenery is awesome.  The Amish barns are something to see.  We were fishing Big Spring one morning.  An Amish couple pulled up in their horse drawn buggy and sold us fresh donuts for breakfast.  Boiling Springs has local culture like you would not believe.

I’ve rented a little stone house a few times, right on the Yellow Breeches, that was built in the 1700’s.

Carlisle, the home of Jim Thorpe, has great restaurants and an abundance of local culture.  One day, we fished on the campus, of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.  That was an experience.  We stayed in the Eisenhower house at Allenberry once.  That is where President Dwight Eisenhower stayed when he fished there.  

Don’t be surprised if you are fishing right next to a stranger on the Yellow Breeches.  That place is usually packed with fly fishermen.  After a while, you get used to it. There, fly fishing is a social event.  You can fish the other creeks in the area, and get away from the crowds.

Search Allenberry, Boiling Springs and Carlisle on the web. I have no idea how many times I’ve been there and enjoyed every visit. 

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

Byron Begley
September 15, 2015

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