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 cold, 16 degrees in Townsend this morning. Today will be sunny and warmer, about 40 degrees.  You’ve seen it on the news.  The weather is awful in America.  Snow is measured in feet, not inches. It’s hard to believe but this weekend will be warm, near or in the 60’s here.

Little River is cold too, 35 degrees at 6:55 am.  Flow is 327 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.24 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 142 cfs. 

Today is my day off this week but I won’t be going fishing.  There is no way.  It’s too darned cold.

Trout in the Smokies are going to be lethargic, save some browns that may be feeding.  A trout’s metabolism slows to a crawl when the water temperature is 40 degrees or lower.  They don’t need food like they would during warmer months. 

I don’t expect many people will be fishing today.  We may see that change this weekend, but for now, anglers are staying home.

Most of our business is mail order right now.  We will be selling Gift Cards like crazy very soon.  Fly tyers will be visiting the store often.  We will soon be entering the period when local anglers as well as visitors, will be putting their fly rods away for three months.  There are some who chase the browns that have spawned.  Those fish are hungry and hard to catch. 

I may walk back to the Spring Creek on our property today.  That is a very interesting place when it is really cold.  The water temperature there is most likely in the 50’s.  I’ve never taken a water temperature reading there that was lower than 50 degrees since I bought this place in the 80’s.  It’s usually 58 degrees year round.  There has always been a population of wild rainbows living in that creek.  They are small due to the lack on nutrients and food.

The 50+ degree water paints the trees and brush with a coat of ice when it is this cold.  The warm water and cold air form a mist that freezes to the trees.  Additionally, we have many caves.  One cave has a large stream flowing out of it year round.  Another cave provides access to an underground lake in front of our house.  I haven’t been down to see it but I know people who have.  I stay out of caves.

Small holes in the ground are open to the water table below.  Warm air flows out of those holes.  When it is cold, it looks like steam is coming out of the ground.  It reminds me of Yellowstone.

When it is hot, everything is in reverse.  Jumping into the creek in August takes your breath away.  The water is cold.  It is always cool on the back of our property due to the water temperature in that creek and the air that is trapped in the gorge. This is an interesting place to live.

Tuckaleechee Caverns is probably 2 miles from our house.  They call this Dry Valley.  Local people ask where I live.  We are so secluded, most people don’t know.  I tell them we live in Dry Valley.  There is almost no above ground water in Dry Valley.  The only blue line I know of is the creek behind our house and it is short.  That’s why they call it Short Creek.  It is formed by two main springs and runs quickly to Little River, right by the Back Porch Restaurant, under the highway and merges with the big river.

Wild turkeys are going nuts.  Paula stopped yesterday on her way out of here and snapped a picture with her phone of a flock that was pecking in the snow.  She posted it on Facebook. I drove to the shop for a few minutes yesterday.  When I got home, those birds were running around everywhere I looked.  Now that the leaves have fallen, they are easier to see in the forest.  There are still loads of acorns on the ground.  There is plenty of food for them to eat.  I don’t remember a mast crop like we had this Fall. 

Appalachian Bear Rescue is located very close to our house.  They take in orphaned black bear cubs, and raise them in seclusion to be released when they are older. I think they have had as many as 23 cubs at once.  Right now, they have none. 

When the mast crop is large, like it was this year, more cubs are born in the Winter.  If the Winter is mild, many of those cubs will survive.  We may have lots of little bears running around like turkeys in the Spring. 

A sow can give birth to three cubs in good years.  I saw a picture of a sow with 4 cubs recently.  That is rare.  When more cubs are born, more are orphaned.  The Appalachian Bear Rescue will be busy next year and they know it.  They are preparing.

Walter Babb made and donated a beautiful bamboo fly rod to one of his favorite charities that provide assistance to people in need in his community of Sweetwater Tennessee.  He also tied and donated 7 dozen of his coveted flies to be auctioned at the event.  The auction will be held on December 6th at the Sweetwater Primary School at 6 pm.  This may be an opportunity of a lifetime for you to own one of Walter’s rods or a collection of his flies.

The rod is a 6’ 9” 2/3 weight made using the Francis Degere taper know as the Digger’s Ice Cream Parlor Special.  Francis’ nickname was Digger.  This man made some excellent fly rods and developed his own tapers.  This is one of them, one of his best.  Before his death “Digger” asked that his tapers never be used to make a rod to be sold.  Walter is honoring that request.  This rod is donated for charity. 

Walter’s fly selection is called the “Adams Family”.  There are many Adams related flies.  You won’t see a collection like this one unless you attend this fundraiser.

Walter and I are hoping to have some serious fly fishermen attend so these rare items are not auctioned at a cheap price.  So, I’m trying to do my part to avoid that by mentioning it here.  Below is a photo I took of that rod last weekend.  It is beautiful.

Bamboo Rod made by Walter Babb.

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

Byron Begley
November 19, 2014

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