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 overcast and 20 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Everybody knows what is coming.  Another winter storm is headed this way, again.  I know, it may be much worse where you are.  We have been lucky.

Little River is flowing at 230 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.92 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 301 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:59 am is 34 degrees.

Not only are we going to get snow today, it will be very cold in the days to come.  Expect low temperatures of 7 degrees tonight and 10 degrees tomorrow night.  We may get 1 to 3 inches of snow today and light snow tonight.  That won’t be so bad.

Planning to fish in the Smokies might be tough to do.  I’ll bet you the roads will be closing in the Park today.  I think I can safely predict the water temperatures will drop.  Don’t plan a fly fishing vacation here this week.  You will be disappointed.  This weekend doesn’t look bad.  It will probably rain.  We need that.  High temperatures will be in the 40’s to 50’s.  Lows are predicted to be in the 30’s to 40’s.  That is not exactly beautiful weather but it is much better than the pounding we will get today and tomorrow.  It is going to be lonely in the fly shop until the weekend.  Paul, Daniel and I will be here today.

The days are getting longer.  Anticipation is building.  Cabin fever is at epidemic proportions.  The retired folks who come in here are bored to death.  We know, someday soon it is going to happen.  The water temperature in the streams will creep up to 50 degrees.  We will be watching.  Once it hits 50, we will still be watching closely but also getting our gear ready to go.  This could happen in February.  Maybe it will be March. 

When those gray bugs start popping off the water and trout begin slurping them down, a movement will occur.  Anglers will be flocking to the Smokies with smiles on their faces.  The big spring fly fishing, wader wearing, leader whistling, flies hung in the tree limbs party will be on.  Thank you God!  It won’t be long.

Alex Quick was here last night.  He is one of my favorite people.  Alex runs the fly fishing program at Blackberry Farm.  He guides clients in the Great Smoky Mountains as well.  He showed Bill Bolinger and I some of the flies he is going to tie here at our Free Saturday Event this weekend. 

They are all Quill Gordon patterns. He has every kind of Quill Gordon fly pattern imaginable.  And, that is what he is going to show you how to tie Saturday.  He ties cripples, duns, spinners, parachutes, soft hackles and wet flies.  There were some others and I don’t know what they are.  I do know they are all Quill Gordons.  So, be here Saturday and give your case of cabin fever a shot of adrenalin.  He will begin at 10 am and tie until 2 pm.  It’s free.  Just show up.

Michael “Rocky” Cox will be here too.  He is a guide with an excellent reputation.  You will see him rowing a driftboat down the Hiwassee River most days during the season.  Rocky can row a boat.  He makes it look a lot easier than it is.  He knows how to put you on trout.  Rocky will be tying Saturday from 10 til 2.  He will be talking about tailwater fishing for trout.  You can visit his website by CLICKING HERE

So, be here Saturday.  Register to win a $100 gift card.  Jack Beith won the card last Saturday.  He was in here yesterday and told me Sunday was his birthday.  That was a nice gift.

Just walk in, grab a cup of hot coffee and sit down with Alex and Rocky.  You will enjoy your day.  Seeing all of you here will make my day too.

We didn’t just remodel our store in September and October.  We came up with a plan.  The plan was a compilation of a huge amount of information.  I took the virtual tour of the Orvis store in Manchester, Vermont, hours and hours of clicking and dragging, to figure out what they did in that store and why.  I measured all of our departments, at least three times.  I drew a scaled plan.  Then, we made the move.  It took two months.

The results are staggering.  Our rod sales are up 32.82% compared to the same 3-month period a year ago beginning November 1st.  Reel sales are up 57.8%.  Fly lines are up 41.12%.  Fly tying materials are up 23.7%. 

Vests, one department that stood to gain the most is up a whopping 61.25%.  Mail order was not up.  This increase can be completely attributed to customers visiting our store.

All categories except three are up.  My question is to myself, why did we wait ten years to do this?  Why didn’t we start out this way? 

The answer is complex.  First, we know more now than we did then.  Second, making the change took weeks of planning and months of implementation.  And third, maybe this is a fluke.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough.  If this growth is sustained through the Spring we’ll know.

Now, we are planning a fly fishing clothing department.  I’ll spend the day on that today.  I’ve got to tell you I do love my job very much.  It’s not all fun and games, but today it will be. 

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

Byron Begley
January 28, 2014

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