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. Townsend is a foggy 49 degrees this morning, and I couldn't be happier about the cool temperatures. This is the first morning since April that my feet have been slightly uncomfortable wearing flip flops. I guess I have a pretty good life if that has been my biggest problem so far this morning.

We have great fishing conditions for fall right now, with a morning water temp of 55 degrees and a water level of 1.67 ft, or 156 cfs on the gauge. Average flow for this time of year is 89 cfs. As usual, we are hearing mixed reports, but the most consistent thread is that the water needs to warm a couple degrees before the fish start looking up for dries. Good choices for nymphs are Copper Johns with Rubber Legs, Tellico's, and Rob's Hellbender Nymphs. For your dries, try a big brown Elk Hair Caddis, Orange Stimulator, or Parachute Madam X.

One of the anglers I spoke with yesterday was Matt Duncan, a young guy that currently is more obsessed with fly fishing that most anyone I know. Him and his buddy Nolan come in the shop regularly. They are fairly new to the sport, but they are already very observant anglers and quick learners. Matt fished a variety of high and low elevation streams yesterday and had mixed success, but the action seemed to get better as the day progressed, even in the cooler water up high. Something to keep in mind when fishing the Smokies is that we have a wide range of elevations and water temperatures. To an extent, the fish in the higher elevations are going to be more accustomed to cooler water temps than the fish in the lower elevations. With that being said, the best thing to pay attention to right now is the trend, not the exact number. Once the water temp starts to climb a little around mid-day, pick your favorite stretch of water and go fish it. If the water temps plummet by 10 degrees in a day or two, it might take the fish a little while to get used to it. Another factor right now is that Brookies and Browns will be getting in the mood to spawn soon, and when that happens, all bets are off for predicting feeding activity.

We are loading the store up with new gear and equipment for the fall and holiday season, and we are excited about everything that is coming in. Business has been great this year, and with that comes a higher demand for inventory. The fly fishing industry this year seems to be doing well, and quite a few companies have had trouble keeping up with demand. Most of those companies are very small, and any time there is more growth than expected, companies have a hard time keeping up. This is a wonderful problem to have and it has been exciting to see so many fisherman this year, old and new.

Fly Tyer's weekend is fast approaching, and we think it's going to be a lot bigger than last year. Marvin Cash and Anothony Hipps have been working hard to get everything lined up, and they have done a great job. I'm particularly excited about the Saturday Night showing of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival. If you've never been to one of these events, consider coming out. There will be 8 short films shown at Tremont Lodge and Resort documenting some of the best fly fishing destinations in the world. These films are voted on by a committee and the top 8-10 get the nod to be shown in venues and events all of the world, like at our Fly Tyer's Weekend. One of the selected films this year follows Paul Samycia, Owner of Elk River Guiding Company in Fernie, British Columbia, as he flies into a remote destination in search of big Bull Trout. Paul is a friend of mine and helped me out on my recent trip to BC, and I am sure this film will be one that you don't want to miss. You can watch a trailer to Paul's film here:

Tickets are available online or at the shop for $15, or you can buy them at the door (subject to availability) for $18. There will also be beer and barbeque available for purchase at the event, and there are also rumors of a bonfire to follow. You can see all the details on our page for the Fly Tyer's Weekend, or give us a call.

Below this report is a write up for a tournament and fundraising banquet for Project Healing Waters. This is a great organization that most of you are aware of. They make a huge impact on some of our veterans and are worth supporting. There will be an auction at the banquet, and one of the items is a beautiful handmade bamboo fly rod by everyone's favorite, Walter Babb.

Here's what Walter has to say about this rod:

"The rod I made for this year's Project Healing Waters auction is a 7'8" 2 piece 5 wt. single tip. A flamed rod with Honduras Rosewood Spacer, sliding band reel seat with blued ferrules and hardware.

This is an original taper from Al Baldauski. It won the Catskill Rod Gathering Rod Makers Casting Competition in 2010. From all accounts it turned out to be a great fishing rod, also."

You can read more about the tournament and fundraiser below.

Thanks for reading folks, enjoy this beautiful fall weather.

War Eagle! (Beat Kentucky)


Dan Munger
October 15, 2015

Respond to

2nd annual Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Challenge set Oct. 17 on Clinch River

Disabled veterans and their sponsors will compete for trophies and prizes on Saturday, Oct. 17 during the 2nd annual Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Challenge on the stretch of Clinch River directly below Norris Dam.
The tournament is hosted each fall by the Knoxville Chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Program, a group dedicated to the emotional and physical rehabilitation of disabled active duty military personnel and veterans through fly- fishing and fly-tying education and outings.

Ten teams composed of a veteran, sponsor and river guide will compete for prizes including grand slam (one each of brown, rainbow and brook trout) most total inches of trout, (first, second and third place), largest trout and smallest trout. Veterans and their sponsors may fish, while their guides may not. Trout will be measured by the guides and kept on a scorecard.

Last year, U.S. Army Capt. Mark Johnson, of Johnson City, and his sponsor, Shannon O’Quinn, of the Tennessee Valley Authority, teamed up to win the inaugural tournament after catching all three species of trout in the river. Johnson took top honors for largest trout after landing a 17.75-inch rainbow. They were guided by Mike Bone.

The tournament raised $40,000 in cash donations, as well as a large amount of in- kind donations.

On Friday, Oct. 16, a tournament fundraiser banquet will be held at 6 p.m. at The Foundry in Knoxville. Tickets for the buffet-style meal are $100 each and may be purchased at and also at the door. There will also be a live auction and silent auction during the event.

The tournament will begin Saturday with a 9 a.m. ceremony and put-in at the Miller Island River Access near the intersection of U.S. 441 and River Road a couple of miles below Norris Dam. Fishermen may begin casting at 9:30 a.m. All trout will be returned to the river to be caught again.

Following the tournament, an awards ceremony will be held at the Holiday Inn at World’s Fair Park where the veterans will be staying. For more information contact Steve Thompson of the Knoxville Chapter of PHWFF at

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