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 overcast, raining lightly and 37 degrees in Townsend this morning.  This is not a beautiful day.  It has rained for days.  We had another .75 inches in our gauge.  According to the National Weather Service, we have had 3.75 inches at the Knoxville Airport this month.  And, today is just the 10th of the month.  We are not complaining though.  Compared to the awful weather to the west of us, we feel very fortunate.

Little River is flowing at 1,850 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 4.5 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 226 cfs.  The water temperature is dropping.  This morning at 8:05 am the temp is 49.5 degrees.  The water is turbid in town.

If you go fishing in the Smokies, be careful. The flow is fast and the water is deep.

Fishing in the Smokies, for most people, is very slow due to the high water.  The conditions are about the same as they were yesterday.  Joe came in yesterday afternoon.  He caught two browns.  I think he said the largest was 23” and the other fish was 19” long.  Joe has special skills.  He acquired a lot of them from Jack.  Jack is the best fly fisherman I know. 

Joe didn’t expect to catch anything. The water was turbid on Little River yesterday.  He was watching the stream and thought he saw a brown trout.  It moved.  He ran to his truck and got a fly rod.  Using a nymph, he drifted it by the fish and the trout ate his fly.  Joe catches several brown trout in Little River over 20 inches every winter. 

I showed him the Game Changer video on YouTube.  He bought some materials to tie them. 

So, you can see the fishing gauge is pointing at “Lousy”.  For most of us, fishing would be lousy.  There are a handful of skilled anglers around here who beat the odds.  In a day or so, they will consider the fishing to be excellent.  The water temperatures are going to drop this week.  That won’t matter.  They can still catch those big fish.

I have known and worked with every Superintendent in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 20 years.  It started with Randy Pope.  I was working with the Park on behalf of the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  Several Superintendents have come and gone.  Many retired with GSMNP as their last assignment.  Others moved up the chain of command.  Karen Wade, one of my favorites ran several National Parks out west after leaving here.

Now, Dale Ditmanson is retiring.  Dale has been the Superintendent since 2004.  I have enjoyed working with him, especially on Troutfest.  He will be replaced, temporarily by Pedro Ramos, who currently runs Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida.  He will be our “Acting Superintendent”.  That could mean many things.  He may be temporary or he may be permanent. 

This is big news in the Park Service world.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park.  You can read the story about Pedro on the USA Today website by CLICKING HERE.

We have a new Assistant Superintendent, a lady who I have not met.  She took over when Kevin Fitzgerald retired. 

I don’t know why, but I’ve been around these leaders for years and they are looking younger than those who served before them.  Kevin looked like a youngster to me before he retired.  I was shocked when I heard that news. 

We are working hard on our new fly tying department.  Daniel is checking the sales history of every item.  There are thousands of items.  In the meantime, I am ordering new materials and re-stocking.  That department is performing well since we moved it upstairs.  One problem we are running into is of all things, the weather.  One shipment was delayed in Nashville due to snow and ice for 3 days.  We got it yesterday.  It should have been here Friday.

We have another order at our largest fly tying distributor, Wapsi in Mountain Home, Arkansas.  The order there is supposed to be shipped 2nd day air.  Daniel talked to Angie, our sales person at Wapsi yesterday.  As you probably know, they have had some nasty ice storms, two of them in a week.  She told Daniel she was one of only 6 people working there yesterday.  I think they have about 50 people who work most days. 

I checked the internet to find out how bad things are in Mountain Home.  It’s bad.  Check this out by CLICKING HERE.  Boat dock roofs at marinas are collapsing on boats because of the ice buildup.  Hey, don’t worry about that order.  It can wait a few days.

Maintaining the fly tying department is the toughest job in our store.  It takes several of us to make it happen.  First, there are several thousand small items.  There are many ways mistakes can be made.  I should know, I have made several during the past few days.  We don’t trust our computers to do the ordering so we walk through with a stack of order sheets and write down the number of each item we want to order.  The Wapsi order form is over 40 pages long.  I do the ordering.

When the order comes in, Daniel receives the orders in our point of sale computer system.  Then, everyone who works here, hangs the materials on the wall, hopefully in the right spot.

There is one thing that makes the whole system tough to manage.  We can’t predict what people are going to buy.  People come in our store from other states.  Maybe they don’t have a fly shop that sells fly tying materials nearby.  If the customer sees something they use that they can’t buy at home, they sometimes buy all that we have.  Also, there are trends.  These trends develop because a certain fly is featured in a magazine or online source of some kind. 

The fly tying department is still my favorite because it is a challenge.  It takes about a week to two weeks to order and receive merchandise from a supplier.  Once the order comes in and it is on display, it is time to start the process again.

Don’t forget, we have a beginner fly tying class Saturday.  Click on the ad below for more details. 

Also, Dean Campbell and Phil Brandt are giving a free fly tying demonstration between 10 am and 2 pm on Saturday.  These guys are friends who fish for stripers locally and redfish on the coast.  It will be a great show.  While you are here, register to win a free $100 LRO gift card.   

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

Byron Begley
December 10, 2013

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