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 6:36 am, dark outside and the temperature is a bone chilling 22 degrees.  This is my day off.  I don’t usually take off on Friday.  I just forgot to take off a day this week so today is the day.

This is really going to be a nice week during the day.  High temperatures will be in the mid-50’s.  Tonight’s low will be in the mid 20’s.  Then, it will warm some, around freezing or above at night through the weekend.

Little River is flowing at 198 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.88 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 279 cfs.  The water temperature is 38 degrees.

Looking at the flow, one would think the water levels are low.  They are not at all.  The apparent discrepancy between today’s flow compared to median flow for the date is skewed.  Median flow for this date is unusually high.  Median flows are based on data from the last 50 years.  Evidently, we have had some very high flows, often enough, during that period, to cause median flow to be high.

I think fishing will be slow because the water is cold.  At 38 degrees, most trout become lethargic.  One exception right now are the brown trout adults.  They spawned recently and they are hungry.  But, for the most part, the majority of the trout population in the Smokies will be hunkered down, reducing your chances of catching them. 

Also, the higher you go in the mountains, the colder the water will be.

If you go fishing today, you might try upper Abrams Creek where the water is warmer due to underground water feeding the stream near the Falls trailhead.  Or you could choose another low elevation stream.  I would use nymphs and pinch on plenty of split shot to get your flies down and tickling the streambed. 

Have a change of clothes in your truck and don’t get to far from it.  If you fall in, it is going to be very cold.  I’ve never fallen into 38 degree water but I can only imagine what that would be like.  Some people do it on purpose.  I can’t figure that one out.

Highway 441, or better known as Newfound Gap Road is closed again this morning due to snow and ice.  That road has been closed and opened every day since December 9th.  It will probably open again today at some point.

Townsend is very quiet.  I went to Ace Hardware yesterday and I was the only customer.  I stopped by our store.  We had maybe 6 customers visit during the hour I was there.  It will be that way until Christmas week.  Then, we’ll see lots of visitors through New Year’s Day.  We will quickly revert back to Winter mode after that.

I am at war with the squirrels around here.  We were pretty much void of squirrels this past summer. A brood of red tailed hawks hatched this spring right behind our house and hung around.  I think they caught and ate most of the squirrels.

Then, I started feeding the birds behind our house using three feeders.  The squirrels are back.  Yesterday, I bought two pressure treated 4 x 4’s and some metal flashing.  Today, I’m going to sink two of them in the ground, wrap flashing around the top of the posts and build two new feeders to mount on top.  I’ll put the sunflower seeds in those feeders.  That’s all the squirrels care about. 

We have hoards of different species of birds visiting our feeders all day long.  Gold finches feed on the thistle seeds.  Doves feed on the ground eating millet.  We have titmice, chickadees, wrens, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other species eating from the feeders.  Our cat, Dubbing loves to sit at the glass back doors and watch.

We have two other feeders back in the woods on the ground.  I keep them supplied with cracked corn.  All kinds of critters visit those feeders.  Paula saw a couple of deer, a buck and a doe, back there last week eating corn.

We have a huge flock of wild turkeys that visit the lower driveway in front of the house.  They walk through every day.  You never know when.  It’s almost always when I’m not here.  Paula sees them every day.  That flock has between 30 and 40 turkeys.  I do see them in the field often.  When they are around the house, it looks like Jurassic Park out there.

Those squirrels quickly deplete the sunflower seeds and leave the hulls in the feeder.  I’ve tried several clever methods to scare them off which don’t work.  Using Velcro, I attached a marine hand held radio to the post of one feeder.  When a squirrel jumped up on it, I used another radio and screamed “Get”.  The squirrel ran away.  Three more came back.  They got used to my voice on the radio and ignored me.  That didn’t work.

One day this week I stuck the barrel of a .22 rifle out the door.  I aimed about 6” to the left of a squirrel on the ground and fired.  The bullet hit the ground right where I aimed.  He took off for a while.  He came back with more friends a few minutes later.  That didn’t work either.

Some people I know just shoot the squirrels.  I feel bad about doing that.  First, I drew them in with the feed.  Second, I would be hunting over a baited field.  Third, I hate cleaning squirrels.  Jack said he would show me a quick way to skin them if I decided to start squirrel hunting. 

So, we’ll see how these squirrel proof posts work.  I know what you are thinking.  You’ve tried everything I’ve described.  The forest is only 30 feet from the back of our house.  Branches hang over that corridor.  I know I’ll have to cut some big branches.  The effort is worth the trouble and expense because we can watch those birds from almost every room in our house and I enjoy that.  I will win in the end, maybe.

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

Byron Begley
December 12, 2014

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