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.  The sky is clear and it is 29 degrees in Townsend, Tennessee this morning.  We have not had a heavier frost this year than I am seeing right now.  The weather websites are reporting warmer temperatures.  My 12 year old truck knows the correct number, 29. 

Little River is flowing at 74 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.51 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is twice that, 145 cfs.  It looks like we had a spike in the flow late last week but the water levels are back down to “low”.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 45 degrees.

Evidently the fishing has been pretty good.  I’ve been out of town on a hunting trip so I’m relying on reading Daniel’s reports posted in my absence. Just before I left Thursday, I got some new reports of large browns that had been caught by some of my friends.  I saw one photo e-mailed to me of a 25” beautiful fish.  Jack told me about a 23” brown his nephew hooked and landed.  Both fish were caught in Little River.

If I were you, I would wait a while to go fishing today in the Smokies.  Let the water warm up some. The high temperature today should be around 66 degrees in the valley.  It is going to be nice.  Rain will move in Tuesday with the possibility of snow that night.  Temperatures will dip into the low 20’s at night starting Tuesday.  The weekend will be much warmer unless the weather predictors change their minds.

It was great walking into the shop this morning after being gone for 4 days.  The store looks different.  The guys got a lot done while I was gone.  The fly tying department upstairs looks awesome.  We are moving quickly into fly tying season.  We are celebrating here by having at least one fly tyer giving free demonstrations on Saturdays. 

Also, our fly tying classes will begin Saturday.  Fly tying season is special for me.  Actually, I tie flies all year.  To me, tying flies is closely akin to fly fishing.  I can participate in the sport from the comfort of home on those cold winter days.  I guess many of our customers feel the same way.  Fly tying has always been a very important component of our business and lifestyle at LRO. 

Rex Wilson will be tying Saturday.  He is a professional trout fly tyer, like Walter and Hugh who have tied already this fall.  All of these guys made money tying flies at one point in their lives.  Rex tied for a regional fly tying company decades ago.  It was owned by Frank Coffee, known to many older guys like me as kind of an icon of Appalachian fly fishing.  Frank had a gang of contract fly tyers and Rex was one of them.  Rex lives in Western North Carolina. 

You can always learn about a few really good trout patterns when you watch these guys tie flies and listen to what they have to say.  They all have their favorite mountain flies.  Some were self-developed.  Others were designed by friends of theirs.  You will see some patterns that are still sold in fly shops.  Others were forgotten, except by a few older anglers who recognized and remembered their importance.  Those forgotten flies are the ones I hope you re-discover in our first series of Free Saturday Fly Tying Demonstrations.

In today’s fly fishing world, tyers develop new patterns that prove to be exceptional.  Many are tied using new synthetic materials.  These patterns are passed on to fly tying companies like Umpqua, Rainys, Holly and others.  The originator of the pattern earns a royalty based on the number of his or her patterns sold to stores like ours. 

The Game Changer is a good example.  Blane Chocklett, from Virginia designed that fly.  Umpqua Feather Merchants is offering it to fly shops in January.  Kevin Howell has developed new patterns that work and sell well.  Eddie Wyatt is another well know fly designer in our area.  Mike Adams and Rob Fightmaster have their own patterns tied by commercial tying companies, making them available to the fly shops in the US and abroad.  Roger Lowe has a collection of flies that are commercially tied and sold to fly shops.  Kent Edmond’s Stealth Bomber has been introduced to the world by Rainy’s.  The list goes on and on.

Innovators, like these guys, help keep the sport more exciting. They come up with something really groundbreaking, and you can buy one for a couple of bucks or more.  Some of us would rather copy the pattern and maybe make a few changes for our own set of fishing circumstances.  Flies are not patented.  I guess there is not enough money involved to pay for that.

To me, flies and fly tying are the two most interesting departments in our store.  It’s always been that way for me.  What the fish sees interests me most.  A little thing like a new fly heightens my anticipation when going fishing more than a rod or reel.  I know we are all different.  I like nice rods and reels too.  When it comes to fooling a fish, which is what we do, I think the fly and the skill to present it well overshadows every other piece of equipment in our arsenal except for maybe “luck”.

Today we honor our veterans, those who served the United States both here and almost everywhere in the world. Today we pray for the safety of our military who serve so that we may be free. We pray for those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our citizens and others around the world. Today we honor those who fight to rid our world of terrorism and help other countries in need. Today is your day, if you have served or currently serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard. Thank you for your service.

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

Byron Begley
November 11, 2013

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