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 6:54 am, foggy, and the temperature is 54 degrees. It will be sunny again today with no rain in the forecast.  The high temperature may reach 82 degrees.  It will warm some through Sunday with no rain expected. The longer term forecast calls for cooler temperatures and rain beginning Monday.

Little River is flowing low at 38 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.09 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 75 cfs.  The water temperature is 61.5 degrees.

I would fish a mid to low elevation stream today.  The larger rivers will off more flow and hopefully better fishing.  Use low water tactics, staying hidden from the trout and fishing the broken water where the fish are hiding. 

I know people are coming here this weekend to fish.  The conditions are not likely to improve.  Right now, Little River is flowing at half normal flow.  And, it keeps dropping.

I exchanged e-mail with a reader yesterday who plans to float Little River downstream from town in a canoe.  I don’t know what to expect because I have never floated that section when the water is this low.  A large group from the Little River Watershed Association floated last weekend. 

Hopefully next week, everything will change.

The lakes are fishing well in the evenings, when shad follow plankton to the surface.  I saw some amazing photos yesterday, of some huge smallmouth bass caught in the jumps just before dark.  The larger fish weighed 6 pounds or better. I think one bass weighed 7 pounds. These fish were caught over a week ago, by a friend of mine.  His son caught an 8 pound rainbow trout that evening.

You might be able to fish the Clinch or Holston today for trout.  Check the TVA dam release schedules and see if you can work with their plan for the day.

Yesterday I wrote about one of my favorite fly fishing destinations, I’ve fished during my life.  I wrote about Boiling Springs and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 

Today I’m going to shift west to Dutch John, Utah.  Like Boiling Springs, I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Dutch John.  Frank and I traveled there, Paula and I did the same.  It is a beautiful part of the world.

At Dutch John, the Green River is impounded, forming Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  We always stayed at Flaming Gorge Lodge and loved it.  There are two restaurants.  One is for breakfast only, or it was back then.  They were so organized, and they knew they were serving fishermen who were in a hurry to get on the river.  They were fast.

The Green River below the dam was known to be one of the most populated trout rivers in America.  I’m going by memory this morning, but I recall the population numbers to be 17,000 trout per mile.  I could be wrong but that is what I recall today.  I know for sure, the stated average size of the trout, at the time we first went, was 17 inches.  I can vouch for that.

The tailwater is divided into three sections, A, B, and C.  A section, just below the dam, flows through a gorge.  The views are spectacular.  The trout population is dense.  I never saw so many trout.  This river is similar to a huge spring creek.  The water is very clear and for the most part, flows slow.  We always floated with Stu Handy, a great guide and fun person to spend the day with.  Frank and I floated with him on one trip, four consecutive days.

B section is an area that transforms from a gorge to what I would call prairie.  The trout population declines some, there are less fishermen, but the trout are definitely larger.  There are a lot of brown trout in that section, as well as cutbows, a cross between a rainbow and a cutthroat trout.  I remember the largest trout I caught there was 24 inches.

Frank and I floated the C section, which definitely flows through the prairie.  There are less trout but they are much larger than those in the other two sections.  We caught mostly brown trout in that section using dry flies and streamers.

I’ve floated the Green in the Spring, several times during the Summer and once or twice in the Fall.

Probably the best trout fishing I have experienced, was on the Green in the Spring. Paula and I went with another couple.  I think it was May.  The Blue Wing Olives were hatching.  I never saw, and have not since seen, that many aquatic insects.  At any time during those three days, we could see thousands of trout, suspended just below the surface, sipping BWO’s.  It was incredible.

The trout were picky.  If you did not get a good drift, the trout would not eat your fly.  We did best by fishing downstream with dry flies.  All we had to do was make a parachute cast, and let the fly drift straight down stream.  The trout were there, everywhere we looked.  Fishing downstream, we almost always got a good drift and hooked a big trout.  It was like that all day long, for three days.

I love that place and may return some day.  My problem is with traveling, we have more to offer fly fishermen, here.  Why leave?  Here, we have wild mountain trout, rainbow, brown and brook trout.  We have tailwaters, with trophy trout, nearby.  You can drive to upper East Tennessee and find more tailwaters to fish.  We have wonderful lowland rivers, with excellent smallmouth bass fly fishing opportunities.  And lakes?  We’ve got lakes.  Some of our tailwaters are excellent smallmouth bass rivers. 

We have mountains.  We have hundreds of thousands of acres of public land including Great Smoky Mountains National Park connected to many National Forests.  Why leave?  We do not have saltwater fly fishing.  That is at least an 8 hour drive from here.

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

Byron Begley
September 16, 2015

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