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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is extremely foggy and 33 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I’m still not used to driving to work before daybreak.  I miss the view of the sunrise every morning from my office window. 

Little River looks great.  We watched yesterday as the water levels climbed.  Snow was melting in the high elevations.  Some areas had as much as 3 feet.  We had two very warm days and a beautiful weekend.  Flow is currently 291 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 117 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:35 am was 47.5 degrees.  The water is very clear.  I expected some color when I pulled up to the swinging bridge.  Nope, it was clear.

Fly fishing in the Smokies has been incredible over the past few days.  Nymphs have been working very well.  I did talk to some anglers yesterday who did fairly well using dry flies, mostly small blue wing olives or Parachute Adams.  One guy I talked to fished nothing but dry flies all weekend.  He caught some rainbows and was very happy. 

The brown trout are very active.  My buddy Ron came by yesterday.  He was headed up to the Park to watch the browns.  When they are spawning it is very interesting to watch.  The males are jockeying for position to fertilize the eggs in the redds.  They can be caught too.  Bill landed a 26” brown this week in Little River. 

The warm spell is over.  Today is going to be very nice, sunny with a high temperature of about 57 degrees.  The nighttime temperatures this week will be in the mid to high 30’s.  Daytime highs will be in the 50’s.

Fishing will be good but maybe not quite like it was last week.  This higher water will help the situation.  The trout will be scattered.  Overcast skies will prevail after today.  We have a chance for rain until Thursday.  You may encounter blue wing olive hatches.  Nymphs may be the preferred fly, due to the cooler water temperatures.  I would suggest a small #16 Pheasant Tail or larger Prince Nymphs, Tellico Nymphs, large stonefly nymphs or even streamers.

We talked about Lynn Camp Prong for a while this weekend.  This mid-elevation stream is my favorite in the Smokies.  It is closed to fishing right now.  The river was restored to pure Southern Appalachian Brook Trout above the cascade.  The Park Service is waiting for the population to become sustainable before opening it to fishing.  That may be sooner than we think.  One reliable source told me they might open Lynn Camp Prong to “catch and release” fishing next year. 

The restriction of “catch and release” would be temporary.  At some point the managers would allow harvesting.  Population sampling using electroshocking this summer indicated that the brook trout are doing well.  There were some very nice brookies captured this year.  The brook trout population density is still not at the level sampled when the rainbows occupied that stretch of water.  At times the rainbow trout numbers exceeded 2,000 fish per mile.  That’s hard to believe.  Lynn Camp is not a large stream.  But, if you fished there often enough years ago, you would believe it.  I do.  Fisheries biologist Steve Moore and I had a great fishing day there before the restoration.  I can’t remember if we caught 75 trout total or if that is the number he caught.  We took turns fishing and I can tell you we did catch a lot of trout in a short period of time. 

I can’t wait until opening day.  I can be there in about 30 minutes. The total mileage of the stream is about 9 miles.  If the brookies reach a density of 2,000 per mile, that is 18,000 wild trout living in easily accessible water at a low elevation close to Townsend.  I can’t help but get excited about that. 

I’ve been keeping up with my good friend Allyson Virden through her blog, “High On LeConte”.  Mt. Leconte is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It is the highest elevation guest lodge in the eastern United States at 6,400 feet.  She and her husband are the caretakers of the lodge.  We’ve known Allyson for at least 16 years.  I’ve met her husband Chris but don’t know him like I know her. 

Living up there is an experience beyond my imagination.  This week they had to deal with 3 feet of snow.  The trails were impossible for the llamas to bring in supplies and clean laundry.  When that happens, they rely on a helicopter, which they did last week.  The lodge employs a “llama wrangler”.  You should keep up with what Allison is doing with the website.  Her life is similar to mine in some ways.  We both write early every morning.  We both like to have a good time.  When she owned a hiking and biking shop we always hung out together at the trade shows.  Paula bought my bicycle from Allyson. 

There are some distinct differences in our lives.  I rely on a Chevy Suburban and she has llamas and a helicopter.  Allyson has great views looking down.  I have great views looking up. We live just a few miles from each other.  They live at 6,400 feet and we live at 1,200 feet.  There are probably other differences in our lifestyles.  For instance, we have electricity. 

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

Byron Begley
November 5, 2012

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