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.  It is dark and 43 degrees outside.  It’s chilly out there.  The mountains were simply put, “beautiful” last night before sunset.  Colors of orange, gold and red are mixed in with green.  The view from our house last night was something to behold.  For now, you can expect vivid panoramic views everywhere you look.  Fall is here and so are the visitors.

There isn’t much traffic during the week.  People are packed in on weekends.  That may change over the next few days.  Business people in town are talking about how good business is.  When I go to the bank, I hear the same thing.  Business is good.  Our business is good too.

Little River is slowly falling back toward normal.  This morning, flow is 201 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.89 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 75 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:35 am is 53.5 degrees.

Fishing is good to very, very good, depending on who you talk to.  I think that also depends on what time of day the fishermen are referring to.  Some say fishing is best in the mornings.  Others say mid-day has been better.  I haven’t talked to anyone who is reporting their results in the evening in a while.

Some angler say nymphs are working best.  Others are doing better using dry flies.  Dan said he and a buddy fished Monday.  Dan was using nymphs and his friend was dry fly fishing.   They both did well.

I do believe you will find fishing to be best today later.  The water is on the cool side this morning.  I think, though I don’t know for sure, the trout may be a little sluggish early.  Maybe not.

We were talking about nymph fishing and strike indicators yesterday in the shop.  Strike indicators became very popular, as far as I know, in the early to mid-80’s.  Before then, I had never seen one.  Maybe they were around and I just didn’t know it.  I lived in Nashville at the time and I was very active in our TU Chapter and FFF Club.  Nobody I knew ever mentioned them.  I subscribed to Fly Fisherman Magazine.  I can’t remember reading about them.  In my world, all of a sudden, they appeared.

The strike indicator was and is perfect for tailwater anglers.  You can cast long distances and let your nymphs drift under an indicator far away.  You can often get long drifts too.  When the indicator moved or went under, you probably had a strike.

Strike indicators caused a dramatic change in the way many anglers fished, especially in those big rivers.  Even novice anglers could hook a fish, 40 feet away, on a sub-surface fly and you didn’t have to see the water movement the fish made to know you had a strike.  You just had to see that indicator react to the fish taking your fly, even several feet below the surface. 

Before that, we fished nymphs close.  We clamped on split shot, sometimes several of them.  We were usually fishing in freestone or limestone streams.  There was current, enough to break the water and allow you to be closer to the trout.  We used short leaders and kept our line tight.  The fly line was seldom touching the water.  When we traveled to the Smoky Mountains or Cherokee National Forest, we used that short line method with nymphs.  It worked.  It worked in Pennsylvania and Virginia.  It worked in Yellowstone.  It worked everywhere we could fish that allowed us to get close to the trout.

That method required lots of practice.  I had to learn the difference between a trout taking the fly or simply tickling the bottom of the stream.  Over time you learn the difference though I have to admit, I struck when there probably was not a trout taking my fly thousands of times, maybe hundreds of thousands of times.  Success depended not on knowing the difference.  It was about sensing the difference.  The difference is subtle.  The sense is acquired.

Some fishermen refer to fishing without an indicator, close to the trout as “high sticking”.  My friends and I called it “short line nymphing”.  Now I hear the term “Czech nymphing”.   To me it’s all the same.  Maybe there are differences between the three.  I don’t know.

I do know this.  If you can get close enough to a trout, to present a fly and detect a strike without an indicator, you are better off.  Fishing without an indicator allows you to vary the depth of your fly during the retrieve. 

Mark Brown from Chota came over yesterday and we photographed the new Bob Clouser wader.  Our studio is set up to photograph small items.  We had to move tables, change the height of the back drop and move the camera back about 12 feet to photograph a wader.  I have some rods that suspend the waders in mid-air.  The lighting had to be moved back too. 

We shot a few photos in three different wader configurations then I had to clip the wader from the background in Photoshop.  That takes time.  Mark patiently waited while I did that, then he left with a CD of the finished work.  It took about 3 hours to get the job done.  I think we got lucky.  Normally that would take longer.

The pressure was the deadline.  These photos will appear on websites around the world.  They will be on the Chota website and our website.  The wader will be available for sale Friday.  That means, they have to be on our websites by then.  So, this was not just a casual fun day in the studio.  We had to work and work fast. 

This new wader is made from tough material.  It is a breathable wader.  It is unique.  The uniqueness is the suspension system and how it attaches to the wader.  You put the suspension harness on first.  You can layer over it or put on your vest before you pull on the wader.  The suspension harness goes on first and comes off last.  You can even wear the suspension harness when you are not wearing the wader.  Keep it on all day, even during lunch at a restaurant, while your waders are out in the truck. 

You pull the waders on and simply attach them to the harness with two clips.  To take the waders off, release the two clips.  If you need to pull the waders down for some reason, like going to the bathroom, release those two clips and do what you’ve got to do.  Then re-attach easily and quickly. 

Gone are the days of peeling off your vest, jacket, and whatever else you are wearing before pulling your waders down.  The harness stays on, even underneath your clothing and vest.  These waders also easily convert to waist-high waders.  It just takes seconds.

Chota Hippies were and are our best selling wader.  We are hoping this new Clouser wader will be just as popular.

I’m off today.  Jack will be here in a few minutes.  I hope we’ll be working on the boat house. 

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

Byron Begley
October 22, 2014

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