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 the temperature is 37 degrees this morning.  We are moving into a warm spell.  The high temperature today will be near 50 degrees.

Little River is flowing at 284 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.13 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 178 cfs. The water temperature is 39 degrees this morning, warmer than yesterday’s reading of 35 degrees.  The water temperature is moving upward and did through the night.

Trout are very lethargic when the water is 40 degrees or colder.  So, fishing probably won’t be good today.  As the week progresses, that number will rise.  Fishing this weekend may be fairly good, not great, but better than it has been.  We will definitely have warm rain Sunday.

I would use weighted nymphs and get them down.  Your best fishing will most likely be later in the day when the water has warmed.

This warming trend is exciting and we hope to see more fishermen out this weekend.  We probably will.

A few of us have known that Lynn Camp Prong will open soon.  But, we have kept our mouth shut until the Park Service made an announcement.  Well, that happened.  CLICK HERE to read the article in the Daily Times that ran yesterday. 

The exact date has not been determined.  Matt Kulp, the Park’s fisheries biologist has to go through the channels to get approval.  He is in favor of opening Lynn Camp Prong and it’s tributaries now.  He still has to wait for authorization.

When it opens, we will have 9 miles of pristine, mid elevation brook trout water available to us, just a few minutes drive from our store. 

I was fishing with Steve Moore on Lynn Camp one day years ago.  Steve has retired but he was in charge of the fisheries program at the Park.  We caught about 75 trout that day, between us and we were taking turns.  That stream is my favorite place to fish in the Park.  It always has been.  The rainbow trout were plentiful and willing.  Access is great.  An old railroad bed, which was later changed to a road, runs along the stream.  It is beautiful up there.  I used to hike in and spend the day often.

Steve told me that day he was thinking about turning that stream into a native brook trout stream.  A large cascade and waterfall would keep the non-native fish out of the upper reaches.  I liked the idea until he told me the stream would have to be closed for a few years.  It was closed in 2008 and the work began.

There were bumps along the way.  Somebody stocked rainbow trout.  The lower section had to be re-treated with the chemical that kills the rainbows.  They did that then moved brook trout back in.  That act of sabotage delayed the opening.  It seems like it has been closed forever.  We had a flood too.  That cause the population that year to remain practically the same as the year before.  There were very few young of the year trout found when population sampling was done that Summer following the flood.

We were up there stocking brookies one day and I was talking to one of the seasonal technicians working with the fisheries team.  I told him I was going to be here opening day and I will.  He said the same thing.  He said he would be there way before daybreak so I would be in line behind him.

I started working as a volunteer with the Park Service fisheries team 22 or 23 years ago.  Back then, finding places to catch brook trout were hampered by closed streams.  At the time I was working on forming the new Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited along with a handful of eager participants. We got the Chapter started and the rest is history.

Since that time, about 30 miles of brook trout streams have been opened to fishing.  Soon, that number will rise to almost 40 miles.  Opening Lynn Camp Prong will take a lot of fishing pressure off the other streams that have thriving populations of Southern Appalachian brook trout. And, it will be easier to get to.  Additionally, me and many other anglers who love that place, will finally get it back.

Now I’m really looking forward to Spring!

Our house backs up to a large, undeveloped area, all wooded.  We have kept a small 50 foot area behind the house clear.  All around us is thick forest that you can’t see into even in the Winter when the leaves are gone.

Yesterday, Paula and I cleared the underbrush and small trees from an area about 50 feet wide and 100 feet deep, just to see how it looked.  We liked what we saw, just large trees.  Now we’re planning to do the same thing around the house so we can see wildlife.

I’ve always liked having bird feeders.  We can’t have them here because of the bears.  We had one once and a bear tore it down.  I’ve been reading on the internet, how you can have bird feeders in bear country and I think I’ve found the answer.  I built two of those feeders yesterday.

The feeders are a simple platform. Mine are 8” x 12” and I built two.  They are elevated slightly off the ground with drain holes. 

The key to success is based on adding only enough bird seed to last one day.  It requires adding seed every day and washing the feeders frequently to avoid spreading disease.  There would not be enough seed to attract bears.  And you could only feed when the bears are less active, in the Winter.  You can’t keep squirrels out.  That’s not a big problem for us right now.  We had a nesting pair of hawks hatch some young right behind our house this Spring.  We’ve got hawks all over the place right now and the squirrel and rabbit population has all but been eliminated.

So, I’m going to try this.  If bears come around, it failed.  I’ll tear them down.  I will need to stop feeding in the Spring because I know the bears will be roaming, and looking for food.  This year, there is plenty of food for them and we haven’t seen a bear at our house since this Summer.

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 20, 2014

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