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

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Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and 57 degrees this morning in Townsend, Tennessee.  Though it is just after daybreak, I can see the gold and orange hue of the Smoky Mountains vividly.  The air must be very clear.  Traffic was light on my commute.  I think our town is brimming with visitors judging from the traffic I saw coming in to town last night.  This is the last big weekend of the leaf peeping season.

We have a chance for rain all weekend.  The streams could use some fresh rainwater.  Little River is flowing at 62 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 82 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 am was 57.5 degrees.

This is going to be a perfect weekend to fly fish in the Smokies.  The dark skies will be favorable to you. Trout will be on the move, especially the brown trout and brookies.  It is spawning time.  The rainbows will most likely be hiding in current and structure.  The dark conditions may cause all the trout to be less cautious.  Cloudy days can be exceptional fishing days.

This seems like a nymph’n day to me.  But, you might see some blue wing olives on the water or other insects so consider dry flies too.  The trout are going to be feeding.  They may not be looking up though.  The water temperature is in their perfect range in the low to mid elevations.  The trout’s bodies will be crying for food unless the barometer has it’s affect, whatever that is.

A cold front will move in this weekend.  We may see snow in the higher elevations.  Low temperatures at night will be near freezing in the valleys and well below freezing in the higher elevations Sunday night.  High temperatures will only climb to the low 50’s beginning tomorrow. Let’s face it, we’ve had a beautiful Fall but Winter is fast approaching.

The Little Tennessee River and it’s impoundments have not been fishing well at least in the lower reaches.  The river tends to be oligotrophic, which basically means it has a low nutrient load.  Filter feeders, such as threadfin shad have very little to eat.  That explains why they are so small.  This year the shad are even smaller than normal. To mimic these fish I tie a Puglisi fly on a #4 egg hook.  The fly is 1.5” long.  

The water is cold and it lacks the ability to hold dissolved solids.  Wayne and I could see the bottom of Tellico Lake’s Little T section in 14 feet of water this week.  Without plankton for food, the baitfish have to go somewhere to eat. We didn’t want to drive the boat that far to find out where.  Of course, the smallmouth bass, trout and other predators will be following them to wherever.

Yesterday was an interesting day for the Laurel Lake project.  I am contacting people who are dam, wetlands, water quality, stream restoration, geology and mapping experts.  So far, I’m getting plenty of support from the community and the University of Tennessee. 

Yesterday I met with Tom.  He is retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  He has a masters degree in fisheries biology.  He and I have been friends for a long time.  Tom wrote two books on Tennessee wetlands. 

Tom decided to call the CEO of Ducks Unlimited (DU).  DU is located in Memphis.  Tom and the CEO are old friends.  I listened to their conversation in my office yesterday.  They discussed one person from DU who assigns staff to projects that create waterfowl habitat and this will be one of them I hope.  That person will contact Tom.  The old lake bed was drained 20 years ago and sits on 144 acres of County owned land.  The property has deed restrictions comparable to a Class I Natural Area. Development is perpetually prohibited.

We are waiting for a hard freeze so we can walk through the overgrown and under-maintained property.  I guess that freeze will happen soon, maybe next week.

I looked yesterday as I drove by the river.  Our new resident bald eagle was not where he was Friday or I couldn’t see him.  He has lived here for a few weeks.  It’s hard to believe we have a bald eagle living here.  We’ve seen some ospreys before and we see bald eagles on the Little Tennessee.  Before Friday, I had never seen one in Townsend though I had been hearing about him for weeks.  After the leaves fall, he’ll be easier to spot if he sticks around.

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

Byron Begley
October 27, 2012 


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