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 50 degrees in Townsend this morning. Today’s high temperature is supposed to be 64 degrees.  You would think this is May.  It is December.  Unbelievable.

Little River is flowing at 153 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.73 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 216 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:29 am is 51.5 degrees.

Man, what a day to go fishing.  I wish I could go.  I would get out there with a long rod and hit pockets and runs with nymphs.  You may see adult aquatic insects on the water.  These bug must be very confused, with this warm water.  You never know what will happen.  But, your best action will probably be found beneath the water surface.

Fishing has been good by “winter fishing” standards.  This isn’t May.  Don’t expect Spring fishing or 50 fish days.  Just expect some action, maybe a big trout and a warm day.  It’s nice out there.

Rain is on the way.  It may begin today but it will for sure start raining tonight.  And, it will last through Saturday night.  It will be warm so if we don’t get too much, the trout may get very active.  Or, they could be inactive due to this strong front that is moving in.  I never quite figured out the barometer/fish-catching relationship.  Maybe I just don’t want to know.  Too much knowledge kind of defeats the purpose of going fishing.  I like to wonder.  I enjoy thinking, “every day will be a good fishing day”.

It is going to be cooler next week and in the 30’s at night.  Maybe we are getting back to normal again.

Dan Munger has been working on our Free Saturday Fly Tying demonstrations and they begin tomorrow.  He has two great fly tyers lined up, Mike Bryant and Clayton Gist.  Mike fly fishes for about anything that swims and has gills.  He has also taken the time over the years, to learn fly tying techniques from some of the great fly tyers in America.  He is the President of the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Clayton has been fly fishing and tying flies for a long time.  I think his specialty is trout, on tailwaters, and small flies.  He’s always talking about tying flies that I can barely see, let alone tie on a leader.  He’s a big fan of the San Juan River in New Mexico and spends weeks out there every year.

These guys will be tying between 10 am and 2 pm.  It’s free. No reservation necessary.  Just stop by the shop, sit down and enjoy yourself.  It will probably be raining.  You can CLICK HERE to see our Free Saturday Fly Tying schedule as it stands so far. Look at the slide show.  There’s a picture of me and lots of friends who have tied over the years.  I look a lot younger in the photo.  I was.  There is also a picture on that slide show I took of Jack Gregory, Joe Humphreys and Walter Babb a long time ago.  Those are three of a handful, of the best fly fishermen I know.  They were about to go fishing when I took that picture.

We are also holding a Beginner Fly Tying Class tomorrow.  I don’t know if it is full.  You can call the shop at 865-448-9459 to find out.  You might want to try out this fascinating hobby.  Here is your chance.  The cost is $85 for the day, which includes everything, including lunch.  Don’t bring a thing.  Walter Babb will be teaching the class.  If it is full, Brian Courtney will be teaching also.  The class is held in our classroom upstairs.

If you have ever wanted to own a bamboo rod, made by Walter Babb, tomorrow night is your chance to do so.  One of Walter’s favorite charities in his home town of Sweetwater, Tennessee will be holding a fundraiser auction to raise money for needy people.  The rod, (shown below) is a 6’ 9” 2 or 3 weight.  The spacer is made from Vermont firewood.

Bamboo Rod made by Walter Babb

The taper was created by Francis “Digger” Degere.  Digger began making bamboo rods in the 1930’s.  This is one of his best rods.  It is called “Digger’s Ice Cream Parlor Special”, and it is a perfect small stream brookie rod.

A box of 7 dozen of Walter’s flies will also be auctioned.  He tied them specifically for this fundraiser.  They are all flies from the “Adams Family”. 

I’ve been mentioning this from time to time on this report because we are afraid there won’t be any serious fly fishermen attending this auction and his prized creations will not be sold at a reasonable price.  That would be very disappointing to many people.

The auction will begin at 6:00 pm at the Sweetwater Primary School in Sweetwater.  The school is located on highway 322.  Just show up and hopefully leave with today’s “Gift Of The Day Idea”, a brand new custom-made bamboo fly rod or a box of Walter’s unbelievable flies, both collectibles and both valuable.

So WOW!  Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day for the local fly fishing population. I don’t think there are any more college football games to watch. It’s time to turn our attention back to fly fishing.

I planned to work on our website all day tomorrow.  I may take a break and drive the 5-minute trip to our local fly shop in Townsend. I’ll be a spectator, not a demonstrator.  I would be embarrassed to tie flies next to these guys.  They make it look so easy.  I make it look hard to do.

I found out this week, Chris Helm passed away.  I’m thankful to call him a friend and deeply saddened by his passing.  Chris lived in Toledo, Ohio.  He owned a fly tying shop called White Tail that was located on White Tail Drive and that is where he tanned his well sought after, white tail deer hides.  He processed his elk hides too.  Chris was one of the best deer hair spinning fly tyers in the world.  That’s right, I said “world”.  He had infectious enthusiasm and was one of the friendliest people you ever met.

Chris was always busy tanning deer and elk hides.  We were talking on the phone one day and he said he had 4 hides, laying out on his driveway, at home, drying.  He sold the hair, and it was the best you could find.  Chris threw away the marginal stuff. 

Mike Bryant knew him well too.  Mike traveled to Toledo to take a class from Chris at least once and maybe more often than that.

Dan and I were talking about Chris at the shop yesterday.  I told Dan I had one of Chris’ famous mouse patterns somewhere.  Dan told me we have a shadow box of his flies.  I had forgotten.  Chris was here for Fly Tyers Weekend in 2004, he gave me those flies and I mounted them in a shadow box.  I suggested Dan hang it in the shop somewhere in honor of Chris.  I bet you will enjoy seeing it tomorrow at the shop.

It’s 8:05 and time to start working.  I don’t consider writing this report every day as being work.  I like to give my mind a workout early in the morning, talk to you folks and stay pretty much on topic, fly fishing, Townsend and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.  I hope to see you tomorrow.

Byron Begley
December 5, 2014

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com


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