Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

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Welcome to the Fishing Report.  The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the temperature is 31 degrees at 8:05 am.  Tonight, the low may drop into the low 20’s.  I encountered quite a bit of traffic on my way to work.  But, I was running later than usual. 

We need some rain!  Brush and forest fires have been frequent lately.  Two county fire departments were trying to contain one in Anderson County yesterday.  Through yesterday, we have only had .73 inches of rain in November.  Normal rainfall for that period is 2.93 inches.  Year to date, we are fine.  The Airport has reported 47.13 inches compared to normal of 42.28 inches.  We’ve just had a dry November.

It shows in the stream flows.  Little River is flowing at 98 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 196 cfs.  The water temperature is a chilly 44.5 degrees.  Yesterday, that number peaked at 46.5 degrees.

So, the water is low, fairly cold and extremely clear.  That makes it tough for fishing in the Smokies.  The wild trout that we have here are very wary.  They try to hide in choppy water, under rocks and under other cover.

The sun is going to be bright today, tomorrow and Monday.  We are expecting rain on Tuesday. 

If you combine low water, cold water, clear water and bright sun, you will have your skills tested and you may not fare well fishing in the Smokies.

Here’s what you should do.  Blend in.  Wear camo.  Keep your body low when approaching the area you plan to fish.  Concentrate your efforts on shaded, choppy water.  That water could be a run located where a riffle enters a pool.  The water is slow enough that the trout can suspend but still be shielded from view.  They can’t see you as well either.  Fish the pocket water.  Pockets are where the current is blocked by a boulder.  Again, the water is slower so the trout does not waste a lot of energy waiting for food to pass by, but there is enough chop to hide them.  Deep runs are good too. 

Nymphs will probably work best.  Get them down.  The water is clear so use light tippet, maybe 6X unless you are targeting large browns.  I would not use nymphs with shiny beads.  Use split shot to get your flies down.

The water is not cold enough to depress the trout’s need for food but it’s getting close.  One exception is the brown trout adult.  They have spawned.  They may still be spawning in some streams.  The post spawn browns are hungry and they will stay that way for months.  Some of the largest browns are caught in the Smokies during January and February.  Another exception is the brook trout.  They have spawned too.  They are hungry.

Tonight’s plunge into the low 20’s here and in the teens up high will lower the water temperature several degrees by tomorrow morning.  Wait a while before you go fishing tomorrow.

Black Friday has passed.  I’m one of those who would not wait in a line for long unless I was buying Pink Floyd or Rolling Stones concert tickets.  I needed to go to Home Depot yesterday and finally decided to give it a try.  It was early afternoon.  I was surprised.  The crowds were not that bad.  I also needed to visit Radio Shack at the mall.  After my quick trip through HD I decided to try the mall.  It wasn’t that bad either.  I think this was the first time I ever went shopping on Black Friday. I have been conditioned to stay away from retail stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  I read that two people were shot yesterday in a scuffle over a parking space at a retail store somewhere.  I didn’t see any scuffles or people being walked on yesterday.

The media reported overwhelming crowds and shoppers spending lots of money across the U.S.  The stock markets rallied to the good news.

We have been busy and we’ll get busier as the holidays get closer.  We will be selling a lot of gift cards.  Fishing buddies give each other gift cards. 

Fly fishing participation drops off during the cold months but this year, February was busy on the streams.  Winter ended early, very early.  Quill Gordons were hatching in early February.  Anglers quickly planned trips to the Smokies and they were rewarded with very good fishing when they would normally be sitting at home, tying flies.  We contacted our fly suppliers and requested earlier shipments to meet the demand brought on by the early spring hatches.  This was an unusual year for fishing in the South.  This was a very good year for fishing in the Smokies.

Kentucky and Tennessee are playing football today in Knoxville.  That means we will be slow at the shop.  Those home day games make for a long day here.

Wait a while then pick a stream and go fishing if you are not watching the game.  You may not have much company in the backcountry.  It will be a nice day but dress warm.

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

Byron Begley
November 24, 2012

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