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 early, dark and 48 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It will rain today and tonight.  From all indications, it won’t rain hard.  I read on one weather website, we may get ½” today and the same tonight.

I was messing around outside after dark last night and heard a hoot owl behind our house.  That bird was hooting off and on, non-stop.  Then he flew to the front of the house and continued the same thing. It’s unusual to actually see an owl here but sometimes we hear them. 

A few years ago, a great horned owl landed in a tree behind our back door and I saw it. Last year, a large brown owl flew by the house and landed in a tree, just before dusk.  Walking up to him didn’t get much of a response so he was well visible close up.  I looked him up in one of our bird books and the bird was rare, but lives in the mountains of Southern Appalachia.  I can’t remember the species right now.

Our most common owl is the screech owl.  We hear them occasionally and I’ve seen a couple but sightings are rare. Owls are cool. 

Little River is now flowing below normal at 287 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.14 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 313 cfs.  The water is pretty warm this morning, 46.4 degrees.  The warm rain may increase the temps in our streams today.

Fishing may be pretty good.  The conditions are not bad at all, especially for late December.  The air temperature today and tomorrow will be in the mid to upper 50’s in the valley.  At elevation 4,000 feet in the mountains, expect highs in the low 50’s today and in the high 40’s tomorrow.

I would use weighted nymphs, probably a pair of them.  Fish the lower elevations for more active trout.  This could be a good fishing day due to the warm water and cloud cover.

Fishing is probably also good in the stocked waters exiting the Park.  Those fish are hungry. 

Cold air will return Tuesday and last through New Years Day and maybe beyond.  It’s going to be winter again though no precipitation is in the forecast.  It’s just going to be cold.

So far there is no word on the opening of Lynn Camp Prong.  I hope to hear the news before New Years day.  It’s just a feeling, that the news will come before then.  Lynn Camp Prong has been closed for 6 years, due to a brook trout restoration project.  When opened, we will have approximately 9 miles of pure Appalachian strain brook trout in a beautiful stream, a favorite to many.  Lynn Camp Prong is close to Townsend and has great access along an old railroad bed.  We should hear soon.

I think about Lynn Camp Prong often.  It is my favorite stream in the Smokies.  When the biologist told me they were going to do the brook trout work there, and close the stream for a few years, it was a bittersweet pill.  Most of us, fans of that beautiful place, probably felt the same way.  In the end, it will be worth it.  This has been a long six years.  Many of us are waiting anxiously for opening day. 

I think, the opening of Lynn Camp Prong will bring the total of formerly closed brook trout streams that have been re-opened to fish, to about 40 miles, since 1983.  Steve Moore and Matt Kulp have done a great job managing our fishery in the Smokies.  They proved, through science, that opening these streams to fishing would not have a negative effect on the fish populations.  They were right.  And, we all benefited from their findings.

Steve is now retired.  I saw him in the shop before Christmas.  Matt has taken over as the head biologist.  Matt is a top notch fisheries biologist and a good guy too.  Our trout streams are in good hands.

Air quality in the Great Smoky Mountains and East Tennessee has improved dramatically over the past few years.  That’s good news for trout, fishermen and all of us.  Over time, the affects of acid deposition should be reduced. In today’s news search, preparing for this report, I saw several references to our cleaner air. The view of the Smokies from our house is better than I’ve seen.  Most days, the air is clear.  Twenty years ago, that was not the case. 

I hope you can go fishing today because this may be your last chance for comfortable weather for a while.  Winter conditions have to come at some point.  After all, it is winter. 

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

Byron Begley
December 28, 2014

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