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. Thick clouds are hanging over Townsend this morning and I saw a few sprinkles of rain on my drive in. This is going to move out and leave us with clear skies for the weekend. Fall is definitely here in the Smokies. I haven't heard many reports about the colors but I expect that they are really changing further up the mountains. Down here in the valley trees are starting to turn. How good the colors are on any given year seems to be as hard to predict as the weather. I don't know if anyone knows what conditions make a good color year.

River conditions are great right now. This morning the gauge is reading 1.58 feet or 134 c.f.s. This is higher than the daily normal of 86 c.f.s. Water temperatures are a cool 55 F down low so they are going to be even cooler in the higher elevations. I would most definitely be using my waders. The streams are flowing clear.

Water temperatures have been cooling each day. Overnight air temperatures are going to be down to near freezing for the next several nights. This is going to cause water temps to drop even more. Fishing has been slower early in the mornings and gets better as everything warms. Early on use nymphs...and probably some split shot to get it down to the sluggish trout. By the afternoon dries should be the way to go.

Where to go is always the question. Right now how far you want to drive or how far you want to walk will be more of a factor. Anglers have been having good reports from most everywhere. I would probably avoid Abrams Creek, not that the fishing won't be great, but the traffic is likely horrible.

Nymph patterns are going to be the best bet earlier in the day. Prince nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, Green Weenies, etc are all good in sizes ranging from #12 to #16. Try some smaller nymphs as a dropper below a dry. Good dries are Stimulators, Parachutes, Parachute Madam X, Caddis etc.

Dan is learning the intimate details about the art of fly purchasing. He has been working for several days on a big preseason order for flies. We have to make early orders for flies that we won't be receiving till later next year. It is a trick to get your mind thinking about Quill Gordons and March Browns when we are coming up on Blue Wing Olive season. Then you have to try to guess how many dozens of flies we need to order. Some products are easy. We can run a report from the computer and it will tell us exactly how many of a particular item was sold in a period of time. The bin flies aren't that simple. We have them bulked into price catagories such as Dry Flies or Beadhead Nymphs. All a report will tell us is how many total flies were sold in those catagories. The rest is gut instinct. Dan doesn't have enough time behind the counter for that yet....but he is learning fast! When you are the one ordering flies every few weeks you get to the point where you can look at the bins and know which flies to order quantities of and which can have just a dozen or so in the box.

Some customers look at the bins and figure if a bin is low that must be a better fly than bin that is full to the top. Many times is it just the opposite. A #18 Baetis emerger is likely to have a nearly empty bin and the Neversink Caddis will be over-flowing. We sell few of those obscure patterns so we keep the numbers down but a big seller like a Neversink we will do a fill in order of 24 dozen sometimes.

Paul is getting the big shipment of Fishpond items out of the boxes. Finally the vest / pack wall will be full again.

Thanks for reading and have a great day fishing!

Daniel Drake
October 16, 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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