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.  At 5:46 am, light rain is falling and the temperature is 59.2 degrees.  It will rain today and tonight.  We could have some thunderstorms move through.  We are expecting 1 to 2 inches of rain tomorrow. Rainfall amounts could be worse, 2 to 5 inches. A flash flood watch has been issued for tomorrow through Sunday.

Little River is flowing at 452 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.43 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 80 cfs.  The water temperature is 63.5 degrees.

If we did not get any more rain, fishing would be great in the Smokies this weekend.  Unfortunately, there is more to come and probably plenty of it.  Unless the weather pattern changes, fishing in the Smoky Mountains, at least in the Little River watershed will be out of the question.  Our streams will probably be blown out.

You don’t want to be fishing when there is a flash flood watch. These weather websites have been wrong before, but this time, it looks like a sure thing.

To our east, states are preparing for a devastating flood.  That is the weather system affecting us, not Hurricane Joaquin, at least not yet.

So, we wait to see what happens. 

We may see more generation at our dams, as Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) tries to manage flows to the Tennessee River.  Lakes have been lowered this Fall.  There should be plenty of storage capacity. But, TVA doesn’t like to have full lakes during the Fall.  They want the storage capacity available, for events like we are expecting now.

I am getting our saltwater fly fishing gear ready and spent most of yesterday doing that.  We will be fishing in Florida soon.  Redfish and speckled trout are active in the Gulf.  I’m looking forward to that.  We are taking our kayaks.  I’m packing 8 and 9 weight fly rods. There are boxes of saltwater flies laid out all over this room.  I think we have enough, for at least 10 weeks fishing in Florida.  I can’t help it.  Saltwater flies are fun to tie.

Kayak fishing in the gulf and bays is a blast.  I’ve always loved the ocean, and spent my life visiting Florida to fish.  I began fly fishing in the salt in 1982.  Before that I used spinning rods.  We’ve caught everything from flounder to tarpon on fly rods.  You never know what you are going to catch.  Paula and I usually keep one fish to eat that night, and release the others.

Almost as enjoyable as fishing, is watching the wildlife and sea critters.  In a kayak, you can get close to fish, turtles, porpoises, rays and manatees.  There are sharks too.  Fish don’t seem to notice you are there in a kayak, like they do when you are in a larger boat.  Maybe they think you are a floating log. 

You can cover a lot of water in a kayak, more than you think. Jack and I once paddled 10 miles in Cedar Key over the period of a day of fishing, and didn’t get tired.  He and I also got caught in some 3 foot swells once.  The wind was blowing from our back and the tide was rushing out at the bow.  Those two powerful forces created the swells.  I never worried about tipping over.  Our kayaks are self bailing, so when waves came over the bow, the water ran out. 

We have only been 2 miles offshore.  That’s about my limit. I want to know I can get back to shore quickly.  You can paddle two miles pretty darned quick, if you have to.

We found an island, that was abandoned by humans long ago.  It is a wildlife sanctuary now, located about a mile off shore in Cedar Key.  We have fished there often, usually parking the kayaks and wading.  We kept finding dead horseshoe crabs, turned upside down, and wondered why.

One day we figured it out.  That island is populated by the largest raccoons I have ever seen.  They looked like dogs, with long legs.  I saw one catch and eat a horseshoe crab.  I think those raccoons evolved over time.  Those with long legs, ate well.  They survived as passed on their long leg genes.  They could wade out, catch the crabs and eat them on the spot.

The downside to kayak fishing in the Gulf, or any fly fishing there, is the possibility of wind.  The wind can blow 20 miles per hour for days.  Imagine that, the weather affecting fishing.  I don’t know how many days, Paula and I have sat in a rented house or condo, watching the wind blow on the ocean or bay. 

This year we have a “Plan B”.  We bought some surf spinning rods.  The rods are made by Temple Fork.  The reels are the large Penn 6500 models made for surf fishing. If the wind blows, and we can’t fly fish, we’ll go to the beach and surf fish.  I haven’t used a spinning outfit in decades.  I’m looking forward to trying that again.

It is still raining.  I guess we better get used to that for a while.

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

Byron Begley
October 2, 2015 

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