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Welcome to the Fishing Report from Townsend, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains. At 5:37 am, the temperature is 55.9 degrees.
It will be warm today, in the low to mid 80’s. We will see temperatures that warm through Thursday. Lows at night will range from the high 50’s to low 60’s.
A cold front will arrive Friday and last through the end of October. We have a 60% chance for rain Friday. Highs will range from the high 50’s to the high 60’s through the weekend. Lows will be in the 40’s.
I use the Knoxville Airport as a rain reference. So far this month, for 17 days, there has only been a trace of rain at the Airport. It is very dry. Wildfires are breaking out. One occurred in Sevier County. There is one in Campbell County burning now. Foresters are warning people to be careful when burning. Most fires in our area are caused by humans and carelessness.
The streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are extremely low. Little River has reached a constant level that has been sustained for days. It’s been at today’s level for at least 3 days. Flow is currently 24 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.15 feet on the flow gauge. Median flow for this date is 73 cfs. The water temperature is 61.3 degrees.
I spent a few hours at the shop yesterday. Daniel told me anglers are catching trout. He said fishermen are catching trout on Squirmy Wormies. Bill camped at Smokemont last week. He said fishing was tough. Fishing conditions are certainly not ideal. I would not plan a fishing vacation here right now, knowing what we know. But, people are here, on vacations, and they want to fish. Sometimes you just have to make the best of what you have. This is one of those times.
I would fish a larger stream with more flow. Dress to blend in. Stealth is very important right now. I would use a dry fly with a dropper or maybe just a nymph or other sub-surface fly. I would probably use a foam beetle for the dry and a Green Weenie or Squirmy Wormy as the dropper. That combination should work and other combinations will too. Just don’t expect to catch trout hand over fist. You probably won’t.
I would fish the East Prong of Little River from Elkmont down to Metcalf Bottoms. You may do fairly well above Elkmont. I might hike up Lynn Camp Prong and fish for brook trout.
Fish the broken water where you can find it, where the trout are packed in and hiding.
This will all change when we get some rain and that may happen Thursday. The long term weather forecast, beginning next Wednesday evening, predicts a much better chance for rain for several days, through the end of October. One weather website, states our normal rainfall in October is 2.67 inches, which is low. October is usually dry. But, we have had essentially none this month. We did get some rain in the mountains a few days ago. That happened in the Park, but not outside the Park where we live.
Evidently, tourists and leaf lookers are pouring into town on the weekends. I talked to a lady yesterday at the pharmacy in Maryville. She told me traffic was backed up for miles, trying to get to Townsend from her direction. I was in town yesterday, and traffic was light.
It is pretty here right now. We can see Rich and Scott mountains from our house. On the other side of them, is Cades Cove. They are colorful. It is colorful in the valley too. It was hot yesterday but it didn’t seem like it at all. Humidity is low. The nights are cool. I walked yesterday morning in shorts and a t-shirt and it was chilly. This weekend, we will be wearing fleece.
You will get an e-mail from us this morning, if you subscribe. We have close to 10,000 subscribers. It is a story I wrote about how Lefty Kreh talked me into stocking and selling Temple Fork fly rods. Lefty has visited here many times. He loves Townsend. He always comments on how friendly people are here. He has given me a lot of advice over the years. I always listen to him and do what he says.
Over 25 years ago, I moved from Nashville to our County, rented a home in Maryville, and began building this house. Also, at that time, I set out on a mission to start a new Trout Unlimited Chapter, to support the fisheries department in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I got a list of TU members in a few contiguous counties, including ours.
From that list I started contacting the members in our County only, to keep it simple at first. From what I remember, all I needed was 14 people to sign a form, stating they wish to charter a TU chapter. For months, I was the only member. I was new to the area, and didn’t know many people in our county. I was a member of the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter of TU, headquartered in Knoxville.
I sent out newsletters, asking people to call me. I knew a few personally. One was Eddy George. Another was Walter Babb. I got a lot of help from the board of directors of the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter and Bill Guinn, who served as our state council chairman.
I picked a night, rented a small room at the library in Maryville, and called our first meeting. Enough people showed up, to sign that form, and qualify us as a TU Chapter. I was afraid, nobody would show up. I sent everything to TU and away we went. The rest is history. I served as the fist President for two years.
The Little River Chapter will be 25 years old next month, I think. I know we chartered in the late fall. The birthday won’t be far off.
I was thinking yesterday about how that initial group of new friends, influenced us all. Paula and I got married not long after that evening. Somehow, we got into the fly fishing business. I met my buddy Jim. He and his family are some of our closest friends. Sadly, many of those original charter members have passed away.
Steve Moore, who ran the fisheries department at the Park, is now retired. Bart, his young right hand biologist, is now the fisheries chief at TWRA, in our region.
The work done by the Little River Chapter of TU is amazing. I was told at the time, we were the first TU Chapter to partner and work with a National Park in America. For many years we only had one mission, to support the Park. We did that, both financially and with I don’t know how many thousands of volunteer hours.
The money, cash matching and the value of volunteers, amounts to millions of dollars, according to the Park Service. They track it. Volunteer time is counted as in-kind donations by the Park and matched by cash grants. Cash donations are also matched. With all of that matching going on, the number grows quickly.
Much of the money and volunteer hours were used restoring brook trout streams. When we began, almost all of the brook trout streams were closed to fishing. Now there are many miles more and they are all open for fishermen to enjoy.
I guess that will be our legacy. It’s a big one for sure.
But there is more, more important than that to many. Very close friendships began. Boys met girls, got married and have children.
More TU chapters now work with the Park Service, including this Park. Many members of other TU Chapters now volunteer and support the Park, from Tennessee and North Carolina and other states, all the way down to Florida and south Mississippi. Trout Unlimited National supports the Park. The International Federation of Fly Fishers supports the Park.
That was the plan from day one, to get regional and national support for the Smokies, and do big things. We needed to think “big”, not small, and act accordingly.
It worked. Many people cared enough, and worked hard enough, to make it happen.
Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.
October 18, 2016
Legends of the Fly Hall of Fame. Just click on this link http://www.southerntrout.com/hall-of-fame/ and you can vote for up to 6 anglers for induction into the Hall of Fame.