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 outside right now and the temperature is 34 degrees.  A band of rain showers is headed our way and it should arrive in a few minutes.  The National Weather Service predicted a chance for freezing rain this morning in our area.  Obviously, it is too warm in the valley for that to cause problems.  However, in the mountains, frozen precipitation could occur and roads could become slick.  The high temperature today is expected to be 50 degrees so this freezing rain or snow should be short lived.

Little River is flowing at 151 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.72 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 259 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:36 am is 42.6 degrees.

Fishing is probably fairly slow in the Smoky Mountains as the water temperature is dropping to a point where that usually happens.  Fishing nymphs, deep and without drag is your best option right now.  Brown trout are active.  They are still recovering from their spawn this fall and they are hungry.  The water levels are lower than normal and the water is clear.  Those fish are not easy to catch but you may see them, even during the day.

Rain is likely tomorrow night and Saturday.

Wildlife behavior is an interesting subject.  It seems, at times, all wild animals are inactive for no apparent reason.  Earlier this week was one of those times. Early in the morning, I couldn’t hear anything.  No crows, no hawks, nothing.  Birds were not visiting our feeders, which is unusual.  I can’t help but believe, fish were inactive too. 

Most people blame that phenomenon on the barometric pressure.  Fishermen have always relied on the barometer as in indicator of fishing success.

A little later in the morning, something changed.  Hundreds of birds flocked to our feeders all of a sudden.  Wild turkeys were walking all around our house.  Crows were calling.  Squirrels were out in huge numbers.  It’s like a switch was turned on.  That happens sometimes and it is noticeable to me.  But I don’t fully understand why.  Maybe it is the barometer.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is finally getting a new permanent superintendent.  The vacancy of Dale Ditmanson, has been filled by a couple of interim superintendents since he retired.  The new person in charge will be Cassius Cash and he will take over in February.  Cassius is a native of Memphis, Tennessee.  He has been educated as a wildlife biologist.  His last assignment was superintendent for Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site, in Boston.  You can read the news release by CLICKING HERE.

Our town is extremely quiet right now.  This is the week before a holiday.  It’s usually this way.  That will change next week as visitors arrive for Christmas, then others will come in for New Years holiday a week later.  Our business at the shop is mostly mail order with Gift Cards at the top of the shopping list. 

It’s not that way at all just over the hill in Pigeon Forge/Sevierville.  Business is booming there.  Pigeon Forge/Sevierville has a strong retail draw.  People come there to shop during the Christmas season. 

Personally, I like Townsend just the way it is.  We are busy sometimes, and quiet often.  I don’t say that from a business owner perspective.  I’m speaking as a resident.  I’ve seen many Townsend businesses open over the past couple of decades, only to close their doors soon after. This is a tough place to do business because of the seasonal changes in tourism.  If we were not in the mail order business, I assure you we would have been gone too.  We have been in business 20 years.  The fly shop business is tough enough without seasonal swings.

We have offered free shipping since we got into the mail order business, way before that became an incentive, nationwide. Many mail order companies offer free shipping during the Christmas holidays.  That is becoming the norm now.  We did it to survive and it worked for us. It’s a price we pay for survival.  Most businesses can’t afford to do it.  We feel we have to.  I think we’ve been giving free shipping to customers for about 18 years.

I don’t think you can just start a mail order business and be an overnight success.  I believe you have to build loyal customers in mail order, just like you do in a brick and mortar store.  You have to prove yourself to customers.  We do that well and have for two decades.  I hope we are doing the same thing, two decades from now.

We will have a special guest at the shop Saturday from 10 am until 2 pm.  Come on by, there is no charge.  His name is Josh Williams.  He will be tying flies and discussing his fly fishing journey which began with Project Healing Waters, an organization that teaches fly fishing and fly tying to disabled veterans.  Josh tied at Fly Tyers Weekend.  Below is his biography which he wrote for the Fly Tyers Weekend web pages:

“Directly after high school Josh joined the Army as an infantry soldier.  In 2004 he was deployed to Iraq for 13 months and served as an automatic rifleman. He became a squad leader upon returning to Ft. Hood, TX in 2005.  In 2006 he was riding his motorcycle to guard duty when a teenager ran a stop sign and hit him.  He broke three bones in his back, shattered his femur and ankle, and lost his right arm just above the elbow.  Josh was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center once he was stable enough to fly.  During his 10 month stay at the hospital he met Ed Nicholson (PHWFF founder) and John Bass.  They introduced Josh to Project Healing Waters (PHWFF).  PHWFF is an organization that teaches disabled veterans how to cast, fly fish, and tie flies as a form of mental and physical therapy.  At first, he wanted nothing to do with fly fishing.  They were persistent, and got him out on the water soon after.  Josh fell in love with fly fishing after catching his first trout on a fly rod.  This opened the door and gave him the confidence to try other things he thought he could no longer do like hunting, tying his shoes, and more recently, changing diapers!  He medically retired from the Army as a Staff Sergeant. Upon returning home to Roanoke, VA, Josh assisted in starting a PHWFF chapter based at the Salem VA hospital.  They offer casting, fishing, and fly tying there.  On their first fly tying event, Josh made the decision to try to tie his first fly so not to look hypocritical when trying to get the other vets to participate.  He instantly fell in love.  Shortly after, Josh start his own company, Dead Drift Flies, tying flies. Later, he added a blog, guiding services and gear to his company and changed the name to Dead Drift Outfitters. Orvis picked up a fly that Josh originated in 2011 (Josh’s White Lightning) and an additional original in 2013 (Josh’s Wiggle Hellgrammite). This December, Josh will graduate from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology. It has been 7 years of going to school part time while working a full time job at Aecom and his fly fishing business. Josh’s and his always supportive wife Lisa have a 3 year old daughter, Emma Jo, and an 8 month old son, Wyatt. God is good!”

I’ll be at the shop Saturday and you should be there with us to meet this fine young man.

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

Byron Begley
December 18, 2014

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