Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  The sky is clear and the temperature this morning is 14 degrees.  I know, the weather websites report 19 degrees.  My Chevy truck wouldn’t lie about that.  It is 14.  The air is crystal clear too as you can imagine.  The Great Smoky Mountains appear vivid and full of detail from my office.  It is Winter in East Tennessee again.

Little River was beautiful earlier.  Ice bells have formed on every twig that touches the water.  The chop rises up an inch or more and coats the bell with a new layer of ice.  That did not bother the heron at the swinging bridge.  He was wading in the water which is actually much warmer than the air.  The water temperature was 35 degrees at 7:45 am.

Flow is 258 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Normal flow for this date in Little River is 323 cfs.  The water is clear.

I don’t think you would coax me into fishing today.  First, the water temperature is close to the freezing mark.  Trout activity will be minimal.  Their appetite is controlled by water temperature.  The colder the water is, the less the trout have to eat to live.  Fishing will be slow in the Smokies today. 

If you do go, fish nymphs ticking along the river bottom.  I bet that would be your only chance.  If you do catch a trout release it quickly before it freezes to your hand.  Take several pairs of gloves.  Don’t fall in.  Better yet, don’t go.

I found an interesting article online about trapping muskrats this morning.  I read it on my iPad but now I can’t find it here at work.  There is a video on the home page of the Wall Street Journal but that is not what I saw.  Anyway, muskrat belly prices have skyrocketed during the past decade due to demand in China.  They use muskrat fur to make shoes.  The trapping of rats has become a fairly large industry again, especially in the Midwest U.S. where cold winters grow excellent fur. 

Last year a muskrat skin brought around $10 each to the trapper.  When I was a kid, we sold them for between $1.50 to $2.50.  That was a lot of money back then.  Sorry I can’t link you to the article.  I just searched all the sites I normally read every morning.  I noticed we did not receive any muskrat belly in our last fly tying order from Wapsi.  Is this going to be like the saddle hackle shortage we’ve been through?  Will we be deprived of our muskrat belly fur because someone in China is wearing muskrat house shoes?  I hope not.

I placed a large order with Whiting Farms last week.  They raise the chickens that provide the saddle hackle cherished by fly tyers and last year, women who attached them to their hair.  That craze seems to have died down.  But my mailbox included one from Whiting yesterday.  They still say they are four weeks behind filling orders.  So, I should expect this order in late January or early February.  We did get some necks and ½ necks from Umpqua yesterday.

The Aluminum Company of America is replacing the “power tower” that blew down into Chilhowee Lake in April.  Evidently, the tower took a direct hit from the tornado that blew across the lake and up the Abrams Creek watershed into Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The lake was closed to fishing and boating for two months after the incident.  “You guys better get this job finished before Spring”. 

I am ready for Spring.  It won’t get here fast enough for me.


Our free fly tying seminars will feature Jack Gregory and Rob Fightmaster. Jack will be tying trout flies. Rob will tie bass flies. They will begin at 10:00 am and tie until 2:00 pm. Our seminars are free. Just show up, get a free cup of coffee and watch these two talented guys tie. Next Saturday January 14th, Walter Babb will be tying. I imagine there will be another fly tyer demonstrating that day too.

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

Byron Begley
January 4, 2012

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