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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from Townsend, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is 5:15 am, and the temperature outside is a cool 37.8 degrees. I use the word “cool”, but the temperature is about 10 degrees warmer than the normal low for this time of year. It is really “warm”.

Today’s high will be about 72 degrees, perfect fishing weather. The rain chance is “zero”.

After today it will be cooler with highs in the 40’s to 60’s with nighttime lows dropping into the low 30’s. Christmas week will warm up again, with highs in the 60’s and 70’s and lows in the 50’s. We have a good chance for rain often over the next few days, with the chance being 100% tomorrow.

One report I read on the Weather Channel website stated: “next Friday could be the warmest Christmas Day of your lifetime, particularly if you live in one of the East Coast states”.

So, Fishing will be good today, thanks to the warm water temperature. Then, it could slow down some for a few days. And next week, fishing should improve.

Little River is flowing at 156 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.70 feet on the gauge. Median flow for this date is 270 cfs. The water temperature is exactly 50 degrees this morning.

Except for 3 cool nights, it will be warm through the end of December. Fishing will be fair to good during that time in the Great Smoky Mountains. Nymphs may work best but dry flies could produce action on top for you too. Try both. Watch the water temperature on this report or the USGS website. If it drops into the 40’s, expect fishing to slow some. If the temperature hovers in the 50’s, fishing should be good, at least in the low to mid elevations.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) appears to be backing off their generation at some of the dams.  Look at Cherokee Dam today. Maybe you can wade and fish at times in some locations. For the most part, looking around the state and in Kentucky at Wolf Creek Dam, TVA will be generating. Check the TVA website yourself, before going.

Today I hope to finish and launch several web pages. I’ve worked on this project off and on for a while. I haven’t had a day off in 14 days. After today, I think I’ll take a couple of days off. If everything launches without problems, I’ll let you know tomorrow morning.

Christmas is a little more than a week away. December has been a good month at the shop. Next week, we’ll be selling more gift cards than probably anything else. Our gift cards are very popular gifts. They don’t expire. They can be redeemed over the phone, online or at the shop. If you lose one, we have the records of your store credit. And when we get right down to the last minute, we can even e-mail a gift certificate, with a number, that allows you to redeem the credit, all 3 ways. So, for last minute shoppers, there are still options late next week and customers will be taking advantage of that.

Then, January arrives. We do more dreaming about fishing than actual participation. We are slow at the shop. Many fly fishermen are tying flies.

February changes. It is usually a little warmer than January. Fishing is usually slow in February. Sometimes we get those days that remind us, Spring is not far off. Later in February, we get some warmer days and start watching the water temperature rise. We think the Spring hatches are not far off. They can begin in February.

Fly fishermen start preparing with more frequent anticipation, in February.

Then it happens. The water temperature climbs to 50 degrees. The trout become active. Early aquatic insects appear. Trout are slurping them down. Our shop becomes active again. That usually happens in March but it has happened in February. We are always hoping for February.

Here, the average high temperature in February is 53 degrees according to the Weather Channel Website. In March, the average high temperature is 61 degrees. The average high in April is 70 degrees. But lately, during the past few years, the temperature has been warmer than average often, especially during the past decade. We may have to pay for this record warm Fall we’ve had. I’m hoping for an early Spring.

Of course we will have to deal with high water at times next Spring, or at least I hope we do. We need heavy rain to sustain the water table through the Summer. In our sport, we are at the whim of the weather.

Tennessee is at the southern end of wild trout streams in the Appalachians. North Georgia is actually the most southern region. Here, spring comes earlier than in the North. So, fly fishermen in the North, migrate here when the fishing picks up, because it is still too cold where they live.

Trout fishing can be great in the Smokies, while being too cold in the Catskills. The same is true in the Fall. So, anglers in the north are keeping an eye on our fishing conditions during both seasons, but especially in the early Spring.

I don’t know of any area, where you can fly fish for wild trout, over an extended period, like you can here in the Smokies and in North Georgia. And, Tennessee has a huge tailwater trout fishery from the middle of the state to the far east of the state.

Tennessee is also known as the “Smallmouth State”. There is a lot of great smallmouth bass habitat in Tennessee, in rivers and lakes. Fly fishing for smallmouth bass is growing in popularity. Since our water warms earlier and stays warmer later in the year, than in the northern states, smallie fishermen keep an eye on those fishing conditions too.

This winter, thousands of anglers will be waiting and planning, to see when the conditions in Tennessee turn on the trout and smallmouth bass fishing. We will be waiting and planning too.

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

Byron Begley
December 16, 2015

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