Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  This weather is unbelievable. Right now it is 50 degrees outside.  Yesterday, the high was 65 degrees or close to it.  The high today should be about the same.  This is fly fishing weather.

Yesterday afternoon I was working at home.  I walked outside late and noticed it was overcast.  The mountains were lit up like a Christmas tree.  Maybe it was partly due to the lighting, but they looked gold with patches of red.  The trees on Rich Mountain certainly changed, almost overnight.  They may not look that way today.  I’ve been fooled many times by light.

Little River is flowing at 234 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.99 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 77 cfs.  It’s hard to believe that only a week ago, the river was flowing at 8 feet, 6 feet higher than it is now.  The water temperature at 6:30 am is 55 degrees.

Some very serious fly fishermen were looking around in the Smokies yesterday.  Lynn and Dan were there.  Jack didn’t work on our house remodel yesterday.  I bet he was out there.  David Knapp had two half day guide trips from two different clients.  I spoke to him between trips.  He was out there. 

Of course, David’s clients were fishing.  I’ve got a feeling Lynn, Dan and maybe Jack were mostly looking.  This time of year, they are looking for or at brown trout.  Looking is like fishing.  Looking is planning for a later day.  Maybe they found a trout that looked happy or was fighting with another male.  Maybe they couldn’t stand it any longer and they tried to catch one.  Maybe they caught one.  But for the most part, I bet they were looking. 

When the clouds moved in yesterday afternoon the fishing conditions became perfect.  That made it harder for looking.  When clouds cover the sun, trout activity changes.  They are easier to sneak up on.  But, they are harder to see usually.  Sometimes they are easier to see.  It depends on the light angle.  I’ve seen cloudy days in certain places where the brown trout stick out like a sore thumb. 

It is a mystery.  Where do these trout hide all year, then suddenly appear in October.  Lynn, Dan and I were talking about the possibility of brown trout changing colors to blend in like Smallmouth Bass do.  It is a mystery to every serious trout fisherman who lives here and fishes often. 

A few local anglers have remarked lately about the size of the rainbow trout they are catching.  Here, a 12” rainbow is a nice fish.  Someone showed me a picture of a rainbow he caught and described it as a “good solid eleven”.  Rainbow trout do not grow to the large sizes we see in brown trout.  Brown trout become predators at some point in their lives and start eating other fish and animals such as mice. 

Rainbows don’t do that.  So, they die young.  A three year old rainbow in the Smoky Mountains is an old fish. Brown trout can live to be 8 years old, maybe older.  I’m quoting the biologists of course.  Age determination requires a scientific process that also requires dissecting a brain.  I have no idea how that is done and probably never will.

Biologists used to count the growth rings of fish scales under a microscope.  The process is similar to counting the rings on a tree to determine it’s age.  I think the scale ring counting method is less accurate.  I tried it once with a biologist at Park Headquarters.  I couldn’t see the darned rings well.  They were there, right before my eyes, blown up to a huge size.  I could not count them.  To be honest with you, I think they had a hard time counting them too.  Biologists can dissect the brain and accurately determine the age. 

I saw the mount of a brown trout that was over 30 inches and it was caught out of the Middle Prong of Little River years ago at the Glory Hole.  I can’t remember if it was 31 or 32 inches.  I know of one 30” brown caught out of the East Prong.  Jack caught that one.

We’ll be hearing stories and viewing photos of who saw what, who hooked what, who lost what, and who caught what, over the next couple of months.  One thing we won’t here is “where”.  Nobody says exactly where.  Some might say “on what”.  Some won’t. 

This might surprise you but I bet some anglers might even lie about where and on what.  It’s not really lying.  It’s more like fooling a fellow angler.  It’s kind of a friendly way of distorting the truth.  It certainly falls within the rules of the game.  There is no penalty for deceiving another angler, even a friend.  One of my best friends won’t show me his really special fly box. He thinks I talk too much.  Where does he get that?  I don’t mind, but he better not leave it exposed and unattended.    

Brown trout will be the topic of discussion and it is fun to hear.  October is one of my busiest months.  All the new gear has to be photographed and described.  I don’t fish much in October.  It’s the same in November. 

Mark Brown is coming to the shop today.  He is the Sales Manager at Chota.  We will be photographing their new wader.  Mark will wear a white shirt and the waders.  We’ll move the table in the studio and he will stand in front of a full size white backdrop extending to the floor and curving out toward me and the camera mounted on a tripod.  I’ll shoot a bunch of pictures, moving the flash units around and changing my settings in the camera.

I’ll open the photos in Photoshop, and cut Mark out of the pictures.

I heard a crow calling.  It must be daybreak.  It is.  Morning has broken in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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

Byron Begley
October 21, 2014 

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