Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is foggy and cool in Townsend, Tennessee.  Traffic was light on the morning commute as would be expected this time of year.  We’ll see things pickup by the weekend.  Holidays are pretty busy around here. 

Little River looks really good.  This would be a good day to fish for a big brown.  It is overcast and we will probably get some rain all day.  But, for the most part, fishing will be slow.  The water temperature is 39 degrees in town.  Flow is higher than normal.  Normal is 205 cubic feet per second.  Right now the flow is 299 cfs. 

If you go fishing watch your step.  The current is strong.  Use nymphs or streamers.  Make every cast count.  Avoid casting into areas that don’t look fishy.  Once you spook one of those larger trout the game is pretty much over.  Watch the water and try to spot individual fish then plan your next moves. 

I haven’t seen these in a while.  Some ravens just flew in and landed in a tree behind the shop.  I see crows every day.  These are not crows.  The raven has the largest brain of any bird.  You usually see them in the higher elevations but not here very often. 

On Sunday a customer told me and Ethan he came in the shop Saturday and was completely ignored by us.  That made me sick and I don’t get over terrible things like that.  We try so hard not to let that happen.  I apologized and thanked him for telling me, then immediately started talking to our staff.  What we are supposed to do is tell you hello when you walk in then check back with you in five minutes.  That gives you time to get the lay of the land and think about what help you might need.  We’ve had the same protocol that I wrote years ago so everyone who works here knows what to do. 

Saturday was different than most days.  We did have a tying demonstration going on.  That could be good or bad.  If you came to the demonstration you probably enjoyed your time here.  If you didn’t know about the demonstration all you saw is a bunch of people sitting around.  That could look like a “hangout” to people who don’t know.

Maybe we were concentrating on those people and missed another customer.  I’ve thought about this for three days and I am going to make some changes. I know, sometimes we think someone else has greeted the customer and we don’t like to hover. 

We also don’t try to sell you stuff unless you ask for help.  Many customers who visit fly shops need help.  Actually most do.  We are not like big stores.  Our most important advantage is, we run a high payroll so we have people in the store to help customers.  If a shop runs a high payroll and does not give good service they go out of business.  There are two choices in the retail business.  One is to run lean and collect money.  The other is to run fat and help people out. I guess there might be something in between.  One very helpful guy I know works in the hunting and fishing department at Walmart.  I go in there because he helps me.

I went Christmas shopping on my day off yesterday.  In one department store I had to stand in line to inquire about a pasta maker.  I didn’t see anyone in the store doing anything except collecting money.  Of course, we are close to the holidays and the stores are busy.  I think a lot of those stores chose not to hire seasonal help to get them through this time.  They are running lean.  I walked through the Sears store and there were people standing around asking if I needed help.  That was refreshing.

I’m almost 60 years old and I can tell you the world of retail has changed since I was a kid and even since I was in my 30’s.  The customer service is just not there like it used to be.  Maybe we asked for it. Maybe we demanded it.  The chain stores won.  The mom and pops get only a fraction of the market share that they used to. As a result, we get lower prices and better selection. We may have to look for something instead of having someone show us where it is.

The fly fishing business on the other hand works best if customers get personal attention, sometimes for an hour or two.  Sometimes we spend an hour with someone and they don’t buy anything.  That’s OK, they come back.  And if we keep doing that they come back more often.  That is a plain and simple explanation of how fly shop customer service works or should work.  And that is what customers expect.     

So, we’ll keep working on the solution.  I know that’s what has to be done constantly.  Some of our staff had great ideas after getting feedback from our customer on Sunday.  We are thinking about door buzzers, better communications between us about who has been helped, and I’ll probably be the greeter on Saturdays from now on. Maybe we don’t need a full blown Fishing Report on busy days. I could be downstairs right now instead of typing this text.   I don’t ever want this to happen again.

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

Byron Begley
December 21, 2010 

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Our fly tying classes will be held in January and February.  To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly tying class schedule follows:

Saturday January 8 – Beginner Fly Tying
Saturday January 15 – Intermediate Fly Tying
Saturday January 22 – Advanced Fly Tying
Saturday February 5 – Beginner Fly Tying
Saturday February 19 – Intermediate Fly Tying
Saturday February 26 – Advanced Fly Tying

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