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 very foggy and 36 degrees in Townsend at 7:50 am. I’m writing this report from the store instead of at home as I usually do.  Traffic was fairly heavy on my way here. 

This is Veterans Day, a time to reflect and thank those who had the honor to serve in our armed forces.  I considered my time in the U.S. Army an honor.  We should all consider it an honor.  I believe most veterans I meet do.  So, today, we honor those who served.  If you run into a veteran today, tell them thanks. It will mean a lot to them. 

You may be off today and fishing.  Lucky you.  It is going to be a beautiful day, sunny and 67 degrees.  Fishing is pretty good in the Smokies.  I asked Brandon Bailes from Athens, Alabama to tie at Fly Tyers Weekend.  He had never been here.  He asked me in August, “Will the brook trout be colored up for the spawn?”  I told him they would.  Brandon had never caught a brook trout.  He is an awesome warmwater fisherman and ties some flies that catch big bass, I mean really big bass. 

Sunday, Brandon drove up toward Newfound Gap to catch his first brookie.  I know the water must have been cold.  His first one was beautiful and large.  The bright colors were vivid.  It was his perfect first brook trout.  He caught others.  And he caught them on a extended body mayfly pattern tied by Tradd Little at the event.  Brandon showed me the photo.  That was a very special fish.

Little River is flowing at 192 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.86 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 145 cfs.  The water temperature this morning is 46 degrees, about like yesterday morning.  The temperature rose to 48 degrees yesterday.  I would expect that or warmer today.

You should do pretty well.  I would use nymphs.  Brandon would probably use a dry fly.  Maybe either will work.

Jack Gregory and Ron Becker spent a week on the White River and Norfork River in Arkansas.  They got back Sunday.  They caught a lot of trout as we would expect.  They are both excellent fishermen.  They were hoping the brown trout were spawning and had been told they would be.  They were too early.  Jack said he did catch one trout that was 26” long and probably weighed ten pounds.  He said the trout were fat, and huge for their length.  He was hoping for a 30 pound brown.  He talked to a guide who told him the big browns spawn in late December.

The brown trout are out and about here.  It’s that time of year.  The largest one I’ve seen a photo of that was caught in the last week or so was 22 inches.  The get a lot bigger than that.  It is a common code of ethics here to never fish for a spawning female.  Also, if a male is on the bed with here, most local anglers don’t fish for them.  Right now, casting to males who are fighting for position is OK.  You should never wade where a brown trout or any trout has spawned.  The redds are easy to see.  If you wade through a redd you will be killing our future trout.

Most local anglers wait until the spawn is over.  You can have some good fishing for them in December through February.  It takes patience and skill to catch one. 

I’m trying to catch up my bookkeeping.  Fly Tyers Weekend put me behind.  I have not checked my e-mail since Thursday.  I am almost afraid to do it.  I normally get between 300 and 600 per day.  I know I’ll have to sift through about 2,000 at least.  Most are junk.  But I have to check closely in case a customer has sent one to me. 

Mike Bryant and I will pick up our fly tying tables today at the lodge.  

I hope to be off tomorrow.  Jack is back from his fishing trip so we will be working on the boat house. A company is putting the siding on it now. When they finish, the garage door will be installed.  Jack and I will do the wiring and run water to it.  Then we’ll pour a concrete pad that is perfectly flat so I can roll a trailer out and attach it to my truck.  There isn’t room to back an attached trailer into the boat house.  We would have had to cut a lot of big trees and build a retaining wall to do that.

I’m meeting with Wendy and Wilson from Tremont Lodge Thursday or Friday.  We will discuss ways to improve Fly Tyers Weekend next year and other fly fishing events we can hold at the lodge.

We had never worked on a project together.  I have known Wilson for several years and I trusted him to get his part done.  I knew I would do my part.  But still, you never know until you actually work with someone on a big project like this.  They did everything they said they would do.  I did everything I said I would do.  This was a test that proved to be successful and built mutual trust.  Now, we can move forward with confidence in each other.

The fly tyers really liked the event because it was different from any they have demonstrated at.  Fly Tyers Weekend was just that, nothing else.  There were no vendors except for Casting For Recovery’s food service.  There were no other distractions. People were not trying to sell rods, reels, fly lines or tying materials.

What was also unique and common with all events I’ve been involved with, this one was free to the public.  I wouldn’t do it any other way.  Sure, Wilson had a big weekend in his lodge.  We had a big weekend at our store.  But, at the event, it was all about the intended theme, fly tying and fly fishing.

We have never charged for an event at our store.  We charge for classes but not events.  The Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited never charged attendees.  We did ask for donations at the parking area but the money was used for brook trout restoration work in the Great Smoky Mountains.  We always felt like we would get donations and we did.  We did charge to attend the banquet.

Casting for Recovery (CFR) practically gave their food away at Fly Tyers Weekend.  They served a barbeque sandwich, baked beans, chips and a coke for 5 bucks.  I ate there both days.  Each time I gave them $10, twice what they charged. I also bought a few drinks during the event and always paid them double what they charged.

I always give a lot of credit to Lindsay at CFR.  She is smart.  I found out later, many people gave them more than they charged.  I bet, if that had charged 7 dollars, they would have gotten 7 dollars. By charging 5 dollars they most likely got more than 7 dollars and in my case, they got 10 dollars.

Lindsay told me they would be back at Fly Tyers Weekend next year.  Having them there added a lot of convenience to the event for attendees and fly tyers.  I think they cleared between $800 and $1,000.  They actually did better Sunday than they did on Saturday though there was less attendance on Sunday.  Go figure.

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

Byron Begley
November 11, 2014

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