Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Welcome to the Fishing Report. The early fog has given way to bluebird skies. It is going to be an absolutely beautiful weekend in the mountains. I took the water temperature down by the swinging bridge in Townsend this morning. It was a chilly 57F. It will be even cooler in the mountains. Looks like it is time to dust off the waders once again.
Water levels in the Smokies are excellent. If you have been waiting all Summer for the weather to break before you went fishing, well now is the time. Levels on Little River are above normal for this time of year but they are at a good level for fishing. The USGS streamflow gauge (it can be accessed by clicking on the "STREAM INFO" just down on the left side of this page) shows what the current flow is and also, it gives historical high and low data. Just two years ago the flow was a mere 17 cfs. That is some low water. It was almost like the river stopped flowing. Of course that wasn't true in reality, but the water was about as low as anyone can remember.
Fishing in the Smokies this week should be great. If you head out early in the morning I would start with nymphs. Water temps have dropped so early in the day the trout will be a bit less likely to rise. As the sun hits the water and temps start to rise then tie on a dry or even better, fish a dry with a nymph dropper. Green Weenies continue to work well. Also, BH Pheasant Tail nymphs or Prince nymphs should do the job.
Earlier this week I got to take an all day fishing adventure. I met my father in law, Joe, early and we packed up the truck and headed off. I hadn't been over to the North Carolina side of the Park for awhile so the Oconaluftee River was our destination. There was a light fog in the mountains with clear skies overhead. The sun filtered through the trees in brilliant beams of light. There wasn't too much traffic so we made the trip over the mountain without much delay.
Rain had fallen the day before so the Oconaluftee was higher than I had been hoping for. Water levels looked great but Joe is new to wading so I looked for areas that were easier. The bridge which crosses over into the Smokemont campground was one of our stops. There is a large pool with some depth directly under the bridge. We stood knee deep in the cold water. As I retied a fly on I noticed a rise in the near current seam above me. I stripped off some line and cast a #16 Parachute Adams up into the pool. Drifting back towards me, nothing. Wiggling the line free from the water I picked up the fly and cast it again. This time the fly was met by a splashing rise. The trout tugged and pulled as I reeled him in. It was a nice little 8 inch brown. I always catch more brown on that side of the mountain.
After some time on Bradley Fork in the Smokemont Campground and a few more fish we detoured down into Cherokee for some lunch. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has definitely made out well with stimulous money. 441 on the NC side is in great shape, they have been working on fixing the campgrounds, and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center looks to be getting a brand new building. Traffic slowed on 441 up from the Visitor Center for a fairly new phenomenom in the Smokies. An elk jam. There was a large bull and two cows.
After some lunch we headed up Straight Fork. If you have never been to Straight Fork you should mark it on your list of places to try. I usually fish it as an afterthought, hitting it after fishing the Luftee or some other NC stream. I need to make it my actual destination sometime. Getting there is a minor adventure. You take Big Cove Road through Cherokee for I don't know how many miles, it feels like quite a few. Turn right at the T intersection. You are following Straight Fork the entire way but you are along the new catch and release section and then the stocked Tribal waters. You pass by the Standing Wolf Campground with their creepy sign. Then there is the fishing ponds. More like damned up drainage ditches but I expect more than one monster stocked trout has come out of there over the years. Finally you come to a cul-de-sac looking turn around right at the Cherokee Fish Hatchery. Don't turn around, you are almost there. Just keep driving straight on the driveway looking road that is right next to the Hatchery. This takes you past the Hatchery and in a moment ...you are back in the National Park.
Straight Fork is about the size of Middle Prong of Little River and has a gravel road that follows along it for several miles. It is out of the way and I have never seen many people fishing it. If you are hunting big fish this isn't the place for you but if you are wanting a place that is off the beaten path without having to take a multi-mile hike check it out. You can get a true grand slam on this little stream. Rainbow, Brown and Brook can all be taken. That day we went I caught several normal sized brookies, a few small rainbows and a pretty rainbow in the 9 inch range.
We didn't catch a ton of trout that day but the fish catching wasn't the main purpose of the trip. Getting out on the stream on a picture perfect day with a good friend was the real goal.
Well, Byron is off on his bear hunt. I still have a bunch of Spring Preseason orders to make. I better not keep putting that off too much longer.
If you can get out, do it. Even if you don't go fishing, get off the couch and get out and enjoy a perfect day. Thank you for reading the Fishing Report!
October 2, 2010
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