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 foggy and 55 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The Fall tourism season has begun.  Yesterday was one of the busiest Sundays we’ve had in a long time.  The visitors are here but not out on the roads yet.  Traffic was very light on my morning commute.

Little River is flowing at 205 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.99 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 83 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:00 am is 59.6 degrees.  The water is clear and Little River looks awesome.

I look up the numbers above on a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) website.  There is a small building just inside the Park that houses all the equipment to measure flow and temperature.  I know the guy who is responsible for that equipment.  The data is transmitted via satellite to a USGS office in Nashville.  At that office, the numbers are somehow placed on the USGS website for Little River at Townsend, TN. 

I’m wondering, if the U.S. Government shuts down tomorrow, will this data be available to us?  It may be automated so we could get what we need.  But, if there is a problem with the equipment, I don’t think it will be repaired.  I’ve been in that little building next to the river in the Park. I know when the monitoring equipment is down and being repaired.  It happens fairly often.

Fly fishing in the Smokies is good.  The conditions, flow and water temperature are perfect.  The flow is receding though it is much higher than normal for this time of year.  We are not expecting much if any rain over the next few days.  So, I expect fishing to remain good.

Fly choices would depend on what kind of fishing you want to do.  If you like dry flies, they are producing.  Hit the pockets, choppy water where riffles enter a pool or fish the deep runs.  Use yellow patterns like the Neversink, Yellow Elk Caddis or Stimulator.

If you like fishing with nymphs, conditions are perfect for that too.  Try a combination of both a dry fly and a nymph.  You will catch more fish doing that. Or dredge a nymph or two nymphs deep in the runs.

If you are targeting larger fish, particularly brown trout, fish with nymphs or streamers.  There is another category without a name.  That would be heavily weighted flies that might resemble a crayfish or just some kind of aquatic animal, maybe a fish.  A Slump Buster would fall into that category. 

And then there are the minnow imitations, the realistic looking fish patterns.  I’m seeing a lot of those lately. I’m tying some of them myself.  Most of the excitement these days is over the articulated minnow or baitfish patterns.  One is called the Game Changer.

I showed several customers my versions yesterday.  I had customers show me theirs.  I’ve been getting e-mails and phone calls about this fly or method of tying flies.  The ones I have tied to use in the Smokies look like a 5 inch rainbow trout, the preferred meal of the large brown trout that live here.  I’ll try them out after the browns spawn.  I really don’t want to bother those fish until after their mating season is over.  I’ll wait until November if I can. A lot of my friends fish for these trout when they are spawning.  What they do is sight fish for the males who are holding behind the females, fighting for position to fertilize the nest.  I don’t have a problem with that at all.  It’s the females that I would leave alone if they are on their nest. 

We are all anxiously awaiting the outcome of the fight in Washington that could result in a U.S. Government shutdown.  We have been told by our Concessions Manager that the Park will probably close if the Government does.  Today, we will cease all ordering of merchandise except for special orders requested by customers until we know what’s going to happen.  If the Park closes, we expect our business to drop significantly.

If you can’t fish in the National Parks, there are plenty of other options.  I don’t know what the National Forests will do.  I looked online last night and couldn’t find anything pertaining to the shutdown and National Forests.  The tailwaters, lakes and lowland rivers will be our only choices and there are plenty to choose from around here.  

I was thinking yesterday about the people who are camping in the Smokies campgrounds.  They may not even know what’s going on.  Cell phone and internet service is all but non-existent in the Park.  I guess, if this happens, rangers will go to each camper, and tell them they have to leave.  I hope it doesn’t come to that.

My guess is, the privately owned campgrounds outside the Park are full.  If they are not full right now, they will be soon.  October is a great month to be a camper in our area.  Townsend is a wonderful place to camp in developed campgrounds. 

You have all the comforts of home without being in an over-developed area.  We have bicycle paths all through town so you don’t even need to drive a car or truck.  And, there is Little River.  Most campgrounds are located right on the river.  I think they all are.  At one point in my life before moving here, I camped in these same campgrounds.  I loved the experience.

We will know more about the Park status tomorrow so check back here. I’m hoping we have good news.

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

Byron Begley
September 30, 2013 

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