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 still dark as pitch outside and 40 degrees.  What a difference a day makes.  It rained all day yesterday.  But, it was still warm.  Today will be cooler and tonight will be cold, below freezing.  Beginning Tuesday night, the lows will be in the 20’s.  Our December 2014 Summer is over. It was nice while it lasted.

Little River rose to 2.7 feet on the flow gauge before peaking at midnight.  It is dropping now.  Flow at 6:53 am is 420 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.45 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 193 cfs.  The water temperature is plunging from a high of 54 degrees yesterday to 49.5 degrees right now.  That number will probably drop to 40 in a couple of days.

Fishing will slow.  The current is strong today. If you go fishing, be careful wading.  Some areas will be swift. If you go, fish heavily weighted nymphs.  You should not have to hide too much from the trout.  Just go, don’t wade much and dredge with those nymphs.  

Jack, Ronnie and Anthony went into the Park yesterday to look for big browns.  I have no idea how they did.  I’d say they did a lot of looking and that might have been tough because the water was probably stained.  Or, one of them could have caught a monster.  I’ll find out soon when I talk to Jack. 

I spent at least 4 hours in the shop yesterday talking to customers, friends and my co-workers.  I was there playing the role of a customer.  Mike Bryant and Clayton Gist were tying flies.  I saw a lot of friends and really enjoyed being there.  I even parked in front of the store, just like everyone else.  I met some nice folks and really enjoyed just hanging around the fly shop.  My plan is to do that on Saturdays.  I came home and worked on our website after that.  We didn’t have a big crowd at the shop yesterday.  We did have a good time.

I bought some gifts for friends.  I didn’t get my employee discount since the items I bought were not for me. That’s our rule.

I spent some time with Walter Babb.  I’ve been writing on this page about the auction that was held last night in Walter’s hometown of Sweetwater.  Walter made and donated a beautiful bamboo rod to be auctioned.  He also tied 7 dozen flies.  He and I wanted to see some serious fly fishermen, those who would want to buy those items, show up to bid.  We knew we could reach those people here.  I’m anxious to hear how it went.

I was contacted by three people who wanted to bid on that rod, absentee.  I gave them Walter’s phone number and he referred them to the person in charge of the auction.  Since Walter was teaching a class at our store, he would not get home in time to attend the auction.

Walter always makes a beautiful rod and ties flies for this auction.  The money is raised for the needy people who live in his home town.  Walter also makes a rod and ties flies for Troutfest.  He is one of the nicest people I know and he is also one of the best fly fishermen I know.  We’ve been friends for about 22 years.      

Clayton said the Clinch River has been generating almost non-stop.  I haven’t been keeping up with that.  We haven’t had much rain lately and the lake level is certainly not high.  It’s below normal.

One young man came in the shop yesterday.  He lives in Townsend.  He is a high school student.  He has been catching some huge rainbows that TWRA stocked in town.  He showed me one photo of an awesome bow he caught last week.  It was not a measured fish but he did weigh it.  He said it tipped the scale at 5 pounds.  It looked to be 24” or better.  It was fat. 

TWRA does a great job stocking Little River in Townsend.  They release lots of 12” fish during the Spring.  They stop stocking when the water temperature rises during the Summer.  Then, they release a lot of brood fish, big bows and plenty of normal size trout in the late Fall. 

These fish are hungry.  When you stock that many hatchery trout, in a 3 or 4 mile stretch of river, the food supply will not support the artificial biomass. They are fairly easy to catch, even when the water is cold.  A man read this report last Monday.  I wrote about the stocked section of Little River and how good the fishing is this time of year.  He decided to go and caught a 26 inch rainbow that day.  He came by the store and told Bill how happy he was. 

After the Fall stocking, the bald eagles appear.  I haven’t seen one this Fall but they are frequent visitors to town, right in the middle of town.  We see them easily since the leaves have fallen.  Nobody has mentioned seeing the eagles this year.  Maybe they are running late.  Or maybe everyone is just getting used to them.  Paula and I saw one fly over our house a few weeks ago.  Like all wildlife this Fall, they are probably enjoying the plentiful food supply. 

Yesterday was turkey day at our house.  Wild turkeys were everywhere.  We saw them just after daybreak in both of our driveways. When I came home from the shop I saw about 30 birds.  One big hen was walking around near the new boat house.  They have been absent lately.  I know those birds are gorging on the acorns, which are more abundant than I’ve seen since I moved here. The squirrels around our house are plump. 

We haven’t seen a bear around the house in a while.  They are staying in the woods, feeding on this magnificent mast crop, away from houses. We have a lot of large white oak and walnut trees on our property.  Jack and I walked back to the creek behind our house a few weeks ago.  There is a huge walnut tree back there and walnuts laid around the ground below the tree that looked like green tennis balls.  Bear scat was visible.  Broken walnuts and hulls littered the ground.  The bears had mashed down all the undergrowth in that area. 

I thought about walking back there before dusk and watching that bear party.  Then, I came to my senses and decided against that.  Maybe I’m too cautious but I don’t go looking for trouble.

At 63 years old, I am living my childhood dream.  When I was young, I would have given anything to see a wild turkey.  All we had were rabbits and squirrels to hunt in Central Kentucky in the 50’s and 60’s.  Here we have bears, wild boar, wild turkeys, deer, bobcat, bald eagles and osprey all around us.  Soon, we may see elk.  We have hundreds of miles of wild trout streams nearby.  We are surrounded by lakes and lowland rivers.  I rarely go hunting these days.  I enjoy looking at wildlife more.  I sure do enjoy my fly fishing,  just as I always have. 

It’s bookkeeping day for me at the shop so I better get going.

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

Byron Begley
December 7, 2014

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