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 and 38 degrees according to the National Weather Service.  It’s dark outside right now.  Dawn is a ways off.  We have a slight chance for snow showers this morning in the valley.  At 4,000 feet elevation there is a 30% chance. 

There is a good chance for rain next week, especially Tuesday and Wednesday.  We really need some rain and plenty of it.  This year, at the Knoxville Airport, rainfall is 7 inches below normal for the year.  We have been in a deficit situation most of the year, with numbers of 5 to 7 inches below normal for several months. 

Little River is flowing at 136 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.67 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date based on 50 years of data is 224 cfs.  The water temperature at 6:06 am is 42 degrees.

Fishing in the Smokies is fair at best.  The water temperatures are on the cold side, which is normal this time of year.  Most anglers resort to weighted nymphs.  All trout, except for the post spawn browns are mostly inactive.  They won’t swim far for a meal. 

Another exception is the stocked water through Townsend.  It is stocked with rainbows.  Some are very large.  They are packed in and hungry as the biomass of this portion of the river is overloaded with trout.  You might be able to catch some of them.

The bald eagles are helping balance the population.  They are feeding on trout daily, right in town.  I drove to Maryville yesterday for a doctors appointment. I saw a photographer set up along the road with a camera on a tripod.  His lens looked to be about 18” long.  More photographers have found a huge abundance of photo opportunities here, photographing these beautiful birds.  When the leaves are off the trees they are easy to spot just driving along the main highway through town.  I saw a pair a few days ago, sitting in a tree.  They are not afraid of people.  Just don’t get too close to their tree or they will fly off.

Mark Longmire came by yesterday.  He and a partner have started a fly fishing wholesale company in Knoxville.  They are starting out by importing competition rods, hooks, tying materials and other items that pertain to European style fly fishing.  His research shows that competition fly fishing has growth potential in a small industry that has little or no growth.  I don’t know much about it.  Daniel and Dan make those decisions these days but I did listen for a few minutes to hear what Mark had to say. He’s a very nice guy and seems to know what he is talking about. 

I have heard that competition trout fishing has become popular in other areas, one being Western North Carolina.  He said younger people are drawn to the sport.

That makes perfect sense to me.  I’m older and have absolutely no interest in fly fishing competition.  I’ve used fly fishing as an escape from competition.  I’ve been competing all my of my adult life, owning a business.  I tried fishing bass tournaments once and hated it.  To me, fishing competition is more like work.  To me, fishing should be relaxing.  I don’t want to be worried about winning.  At this point in my life, I’m completely content to lose.

I have come up with a little friendly competition between Paula and I.  By Christmas, we’ll have our own little shooting range at the barn.  I designed some paper targets last night to print and use.

The competition would be, the winner chooses, prepares and cooks the evening meal.  I will lose every time. 

First, she is a chef and has her own food blog called The Saucy Southerner. She loves preparing a meal.  If you visit her website, I can certainly vouch for the sausage cheese balls on her most recent post.

Second, she is a better shot than I am.

And third, Paula doesn’t like to eat frozen pizza.

I’ve always been a poor shooter. I remember a drill sergeant talking to me about my skills in basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana in 1971. He said something like, “Begley, you excel in leadership, your test scores are high, you can lead a platoon marching better than most I have seen, but you are terrible at the rifle range”. He was right and I never improved.  I couldn’t help it.  I tried to improve but always failed.  Maybe there was something wrong with my rifle.

The Army wanted me to learn how to fly helicopters.  I convinced them honestly, I am afraid of heights.  I for darned sure was not going to jump out of an airplane.  They never mentioned that I attend jump school. I would not have been a good Airborne Ranger.  If they pushed me out of the airplane, and by the grace of God along with luck, landed safely on the ground, I was too poor at shooting to kill the enemy.

Today we will have a former Army rifleman tying flies and talking about his journey into fly fishing at the shop.  His name is Josh Williams.  He lost an arm in an accident serving his Country.

While recuperating at Walter Reed, Josh met some “high up” leaders of Project Healing Waters.  He became interested in fly fishing.  Having only one arm didn’t hold him back.  He’s a great fly tyer and owns a guide service.  He just graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering.  He lives with his wife and two children in Roanoke, Virginia.

Josh will be demonstrating fly tying for you between 10 am and 2 pm.  This is a free fly tying demonstration.  Just stop by, pull up a chair and enjoy meeting Josh.  I’ll be there doing the same thing.

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

Byron Begley
December 20, 2014

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