Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 23 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It is Presidents Day so there are some people who do not have to work today.  If I were one of them, I would go fishing.  This is going to be a beautiful day. The high temperature is expected to be 57 degrees.

Little River is flowing below normal at 234 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 355 cfs.  The water temperature was 35.5 degrees at 7:40 am.

The Fishing Gauge is indicating “Slow”.  I’m not sure I believe that.  Lately, when we get warm days, the fishing has picked up though the water remains cold in the Smokies.  Some friends had fairly good dry fly action last week and the water temperature was in the low to mid 40’s.  I think that could happen today.  Wait a while before you go.  Let the water warm some.  Then, give it a try.

I would fish with nymphs at first.  You may see a hatch of Blue Wing Olives, small Black Stoneflies or maybe Quill Gordons.  If you do, switch to a dry fly and see what happens.  The Quill Gordons should not be hatching in this cold water but they have been lately, though the hatches are not large and they are scattered. 

With a high of near 60 today, a low in the mid 30’s tonight and a high in the high 40’s tomorrow, fishing will certainly improve in the Smoky Mountains.  I did not hear any reports yesterday from anglers who said they caught trout.  Not one.

But, wait until later today and get out there if you can.  It is going to be nice.

The dams near us will be blowing water today, again.  Maybe we’ll get a break soon.  The rain has let up lately.  However, we are expecting rain tonight, tomorrow and Friday.  Hopefully it won’t be too much.  Rainfall for the year so far is almost double what we usually have during this period.  The impoundments are higher than they should be.  TVA is trying to lower them by generating and sluicing water at the dams.

Looking ahead 10 days, we are going to experience a warming trend that might kick off Angler’s Spring.  The last cold night will be Wednesday.  Then, we should see temperatures in the low 40’s at night with highs in the 50’s during the day.  This won’t be the big break we need for excellent fishing.  Not yet.  But, we are getting close.

Timing seems to be perfect for us.  Our Spring shipments will arrive around March 1st.  If the weather were going to be warmer, we would have them ship earlier.  March 1st looks like the perfect time. 

It would be better for our business if the tailwaters were cooperating with anglers who wade.  That would be better for everyone who is in the business in this region.

We will also see the lowland rivers warm soon and that means good smallmouth bass fishing.  That will happen when the temperature in these free flowing rivers exceeds 50 to 55 degrees and that temperature is sustained for a few days.

Then, the lakes will begin warming too.  The smallmouth bass will move into shallow water, preparing to spawn.  That’s when we’ll be tossing wooly buggers right up next to the bank. 

I finally found some weighted Wooly Buggers.  Rainy’s sells them.  They are kind of expensive but that’s what you need to be fishing early on during the smallmouth bass spawn.  If you tie your own, wrap some non-toxic lead free wire on the hook shank before you tie your fly.  I’ll order the weighted buggers so we’ll have them for those who do not tie flies.  There are two colors that seem to work best, black and blacker.  Actually, I got that from my buddy Jack.  He convinced me years ago. 

So, I’m getting excited about all of this and I know you are too.  It won’t be long and it won’t come soon enough.

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

Byron Begley
February 18, 2013

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