Welcome to Spring in the Smokies. And, what a Spring it has been. It has been hot and cold, wet and dry. Mother Nature has had a hard time making up her mind what and when it is. But, fishing has been really good and despite high water right now, we should see that trend continue for a while.
The rainbow trout are larger this year due to a series of droughts that proved to be fatal to many of them during 2007 and 2008. The brown and brook trout survived the drought. Some rainbow trout did as well. So this year the overall population of adult rainbows are down some, the browns and brookies are thriving well and there is plenty of food. Rainbow trout tend to overpopulate some streams. That is not the case now. You will catch some small rainbows though. The older ones will be larger than normal.
These wild trout streams are just about “right”. Anglers are happy with the size of the average trout they are catching. This has been an excellent year for brown trout fishing. Some really large ones have been caught. That could be due to the fact that fishermen are learning how to catch them during the winter months and early Spring during high water events, cold water conditions and post spawn, when they are hungry and active. More anglers are fishing with weighted streamers. In the Smokies, Yellow Sally Stoneflies, inchworms or Green Weenies, Light Cahills and terrestrials will be good dry fly patterns to use this month. The best fishing will be in the afternoons until dark. Read Steve Yates’ article on tying the Yellow Sally fly in this issue of the Journal.
Many of the streams in the park set records for high water on May 3rd for that date. That came at a time when juvenile rainbow trout are at a very early stage in their life and vulnerable to floods. Later this year when stream sampling gets underway by the Park Service Fisheries Staff, we’ll find out what effect this high water had on this year's rainbow trout age class. The brown and brook trout should be fine.
They don’t know why it is happening. I could have been due to the droughts. But, brook trout populations are doing well in Cataloochee Creek, in the mainstream lower section where brookies were uncommon for years. Scientists and anglers are finding adult brook trout just above Asbury Crossing and in the canyon.
Smallmouth bass are active and spawning in some areas. Though lakes are going to be high for a short while until this water finally drains down the Tennessee River, look for good smallmouth and bluegill fishing for several weeks.
Troutfest is about to happen. The banquet will be held Friday evening May 14th. The Fly Fishing Exposition will follow on Saturday and Sunday. It is going to be a big show. Lefty Kreh, Joe Humphreys and Bob Clouser will be back. Many other well-known anglers and writers will be here for the first time. The selection of exhibitors is much larger than last year. We are expecting a record crowd. You may still be able to buy banquet tickets. You can purchase them online by CLICKING HERE or call the shop at 877-448-3474. At this point you may want us to hold your tickets at the shop instead of mailing them.
Cades Cove was closed for a total road replacement March 1st. The 11 mile road was removed, ground up, laid back down and covered with a fresh coat of asphalt. It was scheduled to be closed until late May. The contractor finished in late April. Now you can fish upper Abrams Creek, Mill Creek and Forge Creek.
Make you plans to visit Townsend and enjoy fly fishing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The “Plan your Trip” section of our website will help you find the perfect accommodations. Have a great May.
VISIT BRAND NEW SMOKY MOUNTAIN VISITORS BUREAU WEBSITE HERE.
Want to learn about festivals in Townsend? VISIT THE FESTIVAL WEBSITE. It's really cool! Turn on your speakers and ratchet up the volume.