Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is a rainy, warm Monday morning in Townsend, Tennessee.  So far we have .40 inches of precipitation in our gauge here.  The temperature outside on my way to work was 57 degrees.  This has been an unusual winter. 

Little River is flowing strong.  The riffle I normally see upstream from the swinging bridge is covered with water.  Most people would not know one is there.  Flow is 664 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 305 cfs.

Click on “Stream Info” on the left of this page then change the parameters from 7 days to 120 days.  You will see the graph which indicates median flow in brown and actual flow which is the blue line.  There has hardly been a time when the water flow in Little River was below normal or median flow.  It happened in October.  We had a dry stretch then.  Also, a copule of weeks ago the level dropped below normal.  But the balance of the last 4 months indicates the water level higher and often much higher than normal. 

The water temperature has been warm too.  This morning the water temperature was 51 degrees.  If the temperature stays at that level very long we’ll start seeing the Spring hatches.  I hope that doesn’t happen.  Quill Gordons and Blue Quills in January would not be good for the Spring fishing.  The seasoned anglers of Southern Appalachia say that when the water temperature exceeds 50 degrees for 5 days the Blue Quills and Quill Gordon’s begin hatching. Most anglers in the 1970’s and before didn’t even notice these mayflies hatching.  Trout season did not open until April.  The early hatches were over.  Now, trout season is open year round in Tennessee.  When that changed I was an excited young man. 

Fishing has been good due to the warm water.  If you go fishing today use nymphs and get them down.  I would use large nymphs and plenty of split shot.  The water is probably clear in the mountains or just slightly stained.  But, the water is a little high and wading in some spots might be hazardous. We may get more rain and the rivers could rise further. 

We held a Troutfest Committee meeting yesterday afternoon here at the shop.  I would say about 24 people attended.  We had a great meeting.  Tomorrow, David Ezell and I will begin updating the Troutfest website.  We are making some changes in the event.  Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser will be back.  Also attending will be Jason Borger.  We will be showing the movie, “A River Runs Through It” at the Townsend School Gym on Saturday night.  Jason will be there to explain how the movie was made.  He did a lot of the “stand in” casting in the movie.  This year is the 20th anniversary of the release. 

After the meeting a few of us were talking about chicken rooster saddles and necks.  If any of you don’t fly fish and just happen to be on here, you have no idea what we are talking about and probably think we are a little strange.  Rooster chicken feathers from the neck and back of the chicken are used to tie flies.  As most of us know, a hair trend wiped out the saddle hackles and put shortage pressure on the necks.  As a result, for the last year or so, hackle has been in short supply with feathers selling for as much as $30 each.  Specifically targeted was grizzly hackle.

Well, that shortage is going away I think.  We are getting in some necks now and we even got a couple of  grizzly necks a week ago.  They are gone now.  Whiting Farms, one of the largest growers of chickens for the tying anglers is a month behind filling orders.  We should have one in a week.  There is no telling what we will get.

Clayton Gist and I were talking about the old days.  Metz which is now owned by Umpqua Feather Merchants was one of two large producers of hackle.  Metz necks are of very high quality for the fly tyer.  The other large producer was Hoffman.  I heard both of these company’s strains of chickens came from original stocks in New York, specifically Roscoe, New York. 

Hoffman was bought out by Tom Whiting who holds a phd in poultry genetics.  He started breeding for long saddle hackle.  He was so successful at that, the hackle on his chickens grew so long it dragged the ground which ruined the feathers.  So, he began breeding for longer legs and the problem was solved.  He had roosters with long saddle feathers and long legs.  This is all hearsay.  I have met Tom but I don’t know him well.  He did not tell me this.  Someone who worked for him told me. 

John, our next-door neighbor has a phd in biology and genetics.  He spent his career in the poultry business working for large producers of fryers.  When he developed our subdivision we worked together on the restrictive covenants.  I was the first person to buy a lot in the late 1980’s and I actually bought two.  The lots in the subdivision are mostly 5 acres in size.  We all, own two or more lots.  We decided to allow 2 cows per lot.  We allow horses.  I can’t remember if we can have swine.  But, there is one thing we can’t have living on our property, chickens.  John had enough of chickens during his career.  I bet he doesn’t eat chicken.  He may know something we don’t know about chickens.  I am afraid to ask.

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

Byron Begley
January 23, 2012

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