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 dark and 19 degrees outside.  Yesterday’s high was only 30 degrees at our house.  I’m glad I am working indoors today.  I looked at the mountains from our deck yesterday afternoon and noticed they were white.  We had snow up there day before yesterday.  I didn’t even notice the white caps when I drove to and from the store.  I must have been in deep thought or not thinking at all.  They looked really pretty.

The water temperature in Little River dove to 37.8 degrees last night.  That will make for some sluggish trout. Flow is 139 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.68 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 144 cfs. 

I think fishing will be very slow today.  It will be sunny and the high temperature is supposed to reach 44 degrees.  I’m not too encouraged by that. I believe you should tie flies or visit a fly shop today.  We are open for business.

It looks like snow is out of the forecast for the weekend.  It is going to rain tomorrow afternoon and Monday.  The temperature range will be somewhat warm.  Then, extremely cold air returns.  The Farmers Almanac tells us we’ll have a very cold winter but an early Spring.  That sounds like a good tradeoff to me.  I hope to see bugs popping off the water in February.  It happens.

If you go fishing today, don’t fall in.  Fish near your truck in case you do.  Have a dry change of clothes in the truck. 

Trout Unlimited volunteers will be hiking up the streams today, in the Park, to perform acid deposition testing, a program we started about 20 years ago.  I hope everyone is careful. 

The Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited handed over a ceremonial check to the Park Service Fisheries Department yesterday at Park Headquarters.  I don’t know how much it was.  It was probably around $20,000.  The money was raised at the Troutfest Banquet held early this year. 

They also worked on a Trout Unlimited Embrace A Stream Grant with Matt Kulp.  The money will be used for brook trout population monitoring.  I was told yesterday, the biologists have seen a reduction in the brook trout population, in some streams, and it could be due to acid deposition.  They want to find out, over time, if that is happening.  It could also be due to floods after the spawn.  Only long term monitoring will answer that question.  This is all second generation hearsay so I could be wrong about this.

This arctic blast of cold air reminds me of a fishing trip to Michigan.  Frank, Brad and I drove to Manistee, the first week of December, years ago, to catch lake run brown trout.  The current world record brown trout was caught in the Manistee River years after our trip.

We booked the trip months in advance.  Chuck Scribner, our guide told us early December has weather that is usually tolerable.  Chuck also has a huge drift boat with a 50 hp engine, that is large enough for him and three anglers.  I drove to Kentucky to pick up Frank and Brad, then we headed north to Michigan.  We got to within maybe a hundred miles of the town of Manistee, our destination.  It started snowing.  We made it to the town, then drove to the small remote cabin we rented.  By the time we got there, the front bumper of my truck was pushing snow on the back roads.

Chuck came over to the cabin and told us we could cancel the three day trip if we wanted to.  We were there to fish and fishing we would do if we could. We declined his offer.

We had to find a launch ramp that was not covered with ice.  We didn’t want to see Chuck and his truck, along with his boat, slip into the river.  We launched and started fishing.  The temperature that morning, before daybreak, was 5 degrees.  The temperature was around 5 degrees every morning we fished.  It never rose over 20 degrees.  We fished and shivered for three days.

Needless to say, we froze to death and didn’t catch one fish.  The last day, Manistee River was turning to slush.  We were very careful not to fall in the river.  That would have been certain death.

We had a good time and the Manistee is a beautiful place with over a foot of snow on the ground.  I’ll never forget that fishing trip.  Chuck tried everything possible to put us on those huge brown trout.  The water was just too cold. 

One of us thought we got a strike on one of the days. It was probably a stick.  Brad did foul hook a zebra mussel and landed it.  We took pictures of his catch.  We still had a great time.  Catching fish is a bonus.  Fishing is about “who you are with and where you are.”

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

Byron Begley
November 15, 2014

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