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. We have light rain and the temperature is 37 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I have to admit, 37 degrees seems warm after what we’ve been through. 

Little River is flowing at 357 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.42 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 306 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:05 am is 39.2 degrees.

It is going to warm up considerably this weekend.  We’ll see highs in the 50’s and lows in the 30’s over the next few days.  It doesn’t look like the water will warm to a point where fishing is good, but it will improve.  Just don’t expect too much.  You could also catch the trout of a lifetime.  You never know.

We will have some rain and wind tomorrow.  The chance for rain is 100%.  Sunday will be sunny with temps in the low 50’s.  It looks like the rainfall amounts will be between ½ inch and 1 inch according to the Weather Channel website. 

As we all know, fly fishing is a weather dependent sport.  We need to see water temperatures in the mid to upper 40’s for fishing to be even decent.  I don’t think we’ll see that this weekend but I could be wrong.  We’ll have to see what tomorrow brings.

If you do go fishing in the Smokies, start with a heavily weighted nymph or a pair of them.  Get the flies down.  Make short casts and do some high sticking. If you see a hatch and trout rising to the adults, switch to a dry fly.  Watch for brown trout that are moving around.  If they are active, they may be caught. Rainbows will be much more active than they were a few days ago.  Brook trout may be caught too.

I would concentrate my efforts on the lower elevations.

You may do well fishing the stocked water in Townsend, Gatlinburg or Cherokee.  I would use nymphs or an Olive Wooly Bugger. Egg patterns would be a good choice.

Cold temperatures will return to the region next week.  There is a chance for snow Wednesday.

I talked to Bill Reed twice this week.  Bill is the National Sales Manager at Orvis.  We discussed the weather and other uncontrollable events that affect our business.  He has to worry about weather all over the United States.  Right now, things do not look good in some of the western States, especially California, Nevada and Idaho.  Areas of those states are experiencing  an extreme drought. There pockets in the high plains suffering from the drought.  Texas and Okalahoma are dry.  CLICK HERE to see the U.S. Drought Monitor.  These areas will impact the fly fishing business in the United States in a negative way.  This causes concern for everyone in our industry including me.

Other factors play into the health of our small industry.  Look what happened when the National Parks closed in October.  I know what that did to us.  We were down 33% in October, which is one of our highest sales months.  Many National Parks are popular fly fishing destinations.

If we could have one year, when every part of the country had normal weather, it would be a gangbuster year for the fly fishing industry.  That may never happen but we can only hope.

We have good years and bad years.  Bad years are usually drought years.  That is a scary situation if you are in the fly fishing business.  Long periods of sluggish sales means your cash is being depleted.  When the cash is gone, the game is over.

The eastern United States looks good right now.  Precipitation has been plentiful, actually a little too plentiful at times.  Most fly shops in the East had slow business in the Spring of last year due to high water. It was a tough spring.  Guides had a slow Spring too. 

When that happens, stores buy less.  After all, we don’t want to run out of money.  Inventories in fly shops fluctuate up and down for one reason, weather.  Some stores cut their staff when business is slow.  Slow business happens because of bad weather.

It can be too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry and one of those conditions, extended for a long period of time can have devastating results on sales.

After almost 20 years in this business, I’m used to it.  Bill Reed at Orvis is used to it.  Anyone who has been in the fly fishing business for a while is used to it.  After all, there is nothing we can do about it.  We live with it.

Hey, you need to be here tomorrow between 10 am and 2 pm.  We are holding our usual Saturday Free Event.  You can meet our local fly fishing manufacturer Frank Bryant, President of Chota.  He is a great guy.  He will be here just to meet you and talk to you.

Mike Bone will also be in the shop.  He will be tying flies and talking about fly fishing.  He is a professional guide who has been floating his clients down our rivers for two decades.  He is also another great guy to spend time with.

Tomorrow is going to be fun.

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

Byron Begley
January 10, 2014

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