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.  At 5:57 am, the temperature is 46.8 degrees.  It will be sunny today with a high temperature of around 80 degrees.  Saturday and Sunday will be cloudy, but no rain is expected.  It will be warm, in the mid to high 70’s during that period. 

Rain and cooler temperatures will move in Monday and last through Friday.  Rain will be welcomed by anglers.  The water levels are slightly higher than normal right now, but a good shot of rain will bring the water back up and improve fishing.

Little River is flowing at 84 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.36 of the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 77 cfs.  The water temperature is 52.3 degrees this morning.

Fly fishing for trout in the Smoky Mountains is good but we have low stream flows, which are normal in October.  The low water will require you to stay hidden from the trout as much as possible.  Wear clothing that blends in with your surroundings and stay low.  Fish the broken water where the trout are hiding from predators. 

Nymphs would be my choice, but dry flies may work just as well. A good choice for a dry fly is a Yellow Stimulator, Yellow Neversink Caddis, Orange Stimulator or other attractor flies.  Drop a small weighted nymph off the dry to double your chances.

Leaves in the lower elevations are turning and it has been beautiful here this week.  Park visitation is high right now, which is normal.  But, park visitation this year has been higher than normal.  We had more visitors to Great Smoky Mountains last month, than any September since records have been kept.  You can read the short story on the WBIR website by CLICKING HERE.

More people are traveling according to AAA.  They quote consumer confidence as a driving factor.  Lower fuel prices are likely increasing visitation to the Smokies.  We are located within a one-day drive of 1/3 of the population in America.  Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited National Park in the U.S.

High traffic comes at a time when black bears are very active.  The animals are trying to find food, to bulk up for the Winter.  Food has been scarce this year.  So, the bears are on the move.  I read yesterday, a bear died in a hit and run accident in the Park.  The Park Service is warning motorists of unusually high bear activity on roads. They mention Newfound Gap Road as a hot spot for bears right now.

You will probably see bears in campgrounds.  Campgrounds have food and bears are attracted to food.  If you are camping in a developed campground, you should hide your food in the vehicle, travel trailer or motor home.  Don’t be too surprised if a bear tries to get in your vehicle or camper.  If you are camping in the backcountry, you have to hang your food from trees or contraptions installed by the Park Service, specifically for hanging food out of the bear’s reach.

Paula and I were camping with some friends at Cataloochee years ago.  She and I were sleeping in a small backpacking tent in the developed campground.  Early one morning, I heard a bear walking around our tent, sniffing for food.  It left and I went back to sleep.  When we woke the next morning, we found bear paw prints on one of our friend’s car, on the trunk and top of the car. 

Later we talked to a guy, who said the bear tore into his tent that morning.  He had a candy bar in the tent.  That was a big mistake.  He was lucky he was not injured or worse.  Another person, told us the bear tried to break into their travel trailer, by opening the door.

Bears are smart and persistent.  I saw a video yesterday, of a bear opening a car door in Gatlinburg.  The bear was standing on his hind legs, placed his paw in the door handle, and pulled it open, just like a human would.  Then, it calmly crawled into the car. I could tell he had done that before. The bear knew what he was doing.

Paula and I were in Florida last week, hoping to fly fish for redfish.  We took our kayaks down and stayed for 7 days.  Fishing was slow.  We did fairly well, but not like we usually do in the Fall.

We had a condition, one I have not encountered, called a red tide.  Red tide is a high concentration of an organism called Karenia brevis.  This organism, in high concentrations is lethal to fish and causes respiratory irritations to humans. 

We discovered dead fish in the bay.  One beach nearby had a lot of dead fish washing up on the shore.  When we went to the surf to fish, I immediately developed a dry cough and burning eyes.  It seems I am more sensitive to the condition, than my friends and Paula are. 

I found a web page on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.  They sample the water at different locations in the state twice each week and post the results on this page.  You can see it by CLICKING HERE.  It was updated Wednesday, and will be updated again today.  Look at the map.  We were in Gulf County.  The red tide still exists.  Another larger red tide has appeared further south.  If you are traveling to Florida to fish, this is one website you should visit before you go, so you know what to expect.

I made approximately 1,000 Knucklehead bodies yesterday.  It takes two foam bodies to tie one fly.  The chore took several hours, despite the fact that I have jigs and a paper cutter to speed up the process.  I tie this fly to sell in the shop, because we don’t have another source.  We sell most of them online.  So far this year I’ve tied 1,308 Knuckleheads. It’s time for me to start stocking up for next year. 

I came up with this pattern for smallmouth bass fishing. Last year, anglers found they work well for trout, which has now expanded the demand to a larger customer base.  Trout seem to like the black ones.  If this continues, I will need to have them tied by a fly company, overseas.  I hate to do that because that could affect my quality control.  On the other hand, those people are professional fly tyers who do excellent work.  I’ll have to cross that bridge and make a decision at some point. For now, I’ll just keep tying them.

It is beautiful in the Great Smoky Mountains right now. Fishing is good.  It may be better next week. I love Fall.

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

Byron Begley
October 23, 2015

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