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 partly cloudy and 26 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was extremely light on my way to work. I probably didn’t see more than 6 or 7 vehicles on the roads.  We will have more visitors here next week for the new year holiday.

Little River is flowing at 406 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.53 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 312 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:55 am is 40 degrees.

The water levels are still on the high side.  You can fish and wade but don’t take any chances.  Wade in safe areas.  If you fall in, that water is cold.

Fly fishing in the Smokies is normally slow when the water temperature is 40 degrees.  Most experts will tell you that.  Trout can be caught but your success rate will most likely be low.  The brown trout will be more active than the rainbows.  They are still on a feeding binge following the spawn. 

I would use nymphs and weight them well.  Get those flies down.  There is plenty of current so you may get pretty close to the trout in many places.  High sticking will be your best bet.  Streamers may work for the browns.  Don’t expect great fishing.  It’s not happening.

A warm front and rain are moving into the area.  We have a 100% chance for rain tonight and tomorrow.  The low tonight is expected to be 40 degrees in the valley.  Highs will be in the 50’s today and tomorrow.  Cloud cover should increase later today.

The rainfall that is predicted is described as moderate by the Weather Service.  However, they do mention the chance for locally heavy rainfall, which will cause some rivers and streams to rise. 

I had the day off yesterday so I spent time tying Game Changer flies.  These articulated baitfish streamers are very realistic looking replicas.  I color mine with Prisamacolor Markers.  Some are colored to look like a smallmouth bass.  Others resemble rainbow trout.  I have some I colored to depict a shad.  And finally, there are those that look like yellow perch.

Yellow perch are not native to this region but they are here.  Biologists believe these non-natives migrated here on their own down the Mississippi River and it’s tributaries.  On the other hand, these fish are also found in impoundments where there are no locks to allow passage by boats and barges upstream.  How did they get there?  Tennessee Wildlife Agency biologists believe they were transplanted by people, who moved here to retire from the northern states. 

I’ve seen them and I caught one this Summer.  It was 13 inches long, 2 inches shy of the state record.  I caught the fish on a black Wooly Bugger.  He had to be stocked by people.  I ate him.  He was good.

I have seen these fish in Tellico Lake.  Tellico Lake is accessible by migratory fish from the Tennessee River through a canal.  When I saw the first one I couldn’t believe it.  After talking to other anglers, I found proof that these fish are here and in fairly large numbers.

Many plugs made for fishing northern waters resemble yellow perch.  Kin to the walleye, the yellow perch is known to be excellent table fare.  I’m guessing, smallmouth bass and other game fish in the Tennessee River system will consider them as good food too.  Yellow perch have a very tough skin.  They are almost impossible to scale.  Anglers remove the skin with the scales on before the fish is cut into filets.  It seems our gamefish might have some trouble digesting a yellow perch.  So maybe, if given the choice, they may prefer a threadfin shad.  I’ll find out this Spring.  It seems to me, if a smallmouth bass can digest a crawfish, a yellow perch won’t be a problem.

To color the Yellow Perch Game Changer I used a base color of Yellow Ochre but left part of the belly white.  Then, I added the color “warm grey” to the back and made the bars along the side of the fish.  Orange was used in two areas along the belly to resemble their fins.  They are very colorful fish.  Do an internet search for “Yellow Perch” and click on the images.  That’s what I do to tie and color baitfish patterns.  You will see hundreds of pictures of the baitfish you are trying to mimic.

We’ll be open all weekend.  Our Saturday Free Fly Tying Events will continue next weekend after the new year holiday.

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

Byron Begley
December 28, 2013 

Respond to: byron@littleriveroutfitters.com


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