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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and 42 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was very light on my morning commute.  There is not much going on in town, not yet.

We had .60 inches rain last night at the shop.  Little River is rising but it was not muddy at all when I drove by at 7:50 am.  It looks great.  Flow is currently 435 cubic feet per second (cfs) and rising.  Median flow for this date is 364 cfs.  The water temperature has risen from 37.5 degrees yesterday morning to 43.3 degrees this morning.  We’ll see that trend continue. 

The National Weather Service is predicting more rain tonight and tomorrow.  They put the chance at 80% tonight and 60% tomorrow.  The Weather Channel website lists the chance for rain at 30% today and 30% tomorrow.  I think that means we will get some more rain but not very much.  I hope not.  Looking at the radar right now, I don’t see it happening.

Both weather websites agree that the high today will be 56 degrees, 60 degrees tomorrow and 58 degrees on Sunday.

We are going to see fly fishing in the Smoky Mountains improve this weekend.  You can see that the water temperature is trending up and that is key to good fishing.  If the water temperature reaches or exceeds 50 degrees you should go. 

Be ready with some nymphs just in case you don’t see some aquatic insects on the water. But, also be ready with some Blue Wing Olives, Tiny Black Stones, Quill Gordon and Blue Quill dry flies.  I don’t think we’ll see excellent fly fishing in the mountains.  I just think it might be good and certainly better than it has been lately.

I don’t know what TVA is going to do at Norris Dam this weekend.  They have cut back on the discharge because the lake is back down to where they would like it to be at this time of year.  We’re all hoping they turn the generators off so anglers can get out there and fish.

I also hope you are able to be here tomorrow when Ray Ball and Clayton Gist are tying.  They will be giving you a free fly tying demonstration from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. You won’t want to miss this. It will be fun.

We have one opening in our Advanced Trout Fly Tying Class tomorrow.  If you are interested in attending, call the shop today.  The class will be taught by Walter Babb and Brian Courtney.  We have 7 students enrolled.  This is our last fly tying class until Fall.

I know for a fact, a group of smallmouth bass fly anglers are getting excited about the upcoming lake and river action.  It won’t come soon enough for me.  I like dragging the boat over to the Little Tennessee River.  When the water warms to about 60 degrees, the smallmouth bass move to the banks to spawn.  That is when we start casting Wooly Buggers.  My largest smallmouth from that river weighed exactly 5 pounds.  This year, like last, I’m after a 6 pounder.  I had one on that large or larger last Spring and the point on my hook bent down when I set the hook on the fish.  It didn’t stay hooked long and when the fish came off I checked that hook and found what was a very disappointing failure. 

That is why I’m going to be tying Wooly Buggers on bass stinger hooks from now on.  I got an e-mail from a reader yesterday who suggested I make the flies weedless.  That is a great idea, though where we fish, I would probably cut the weed guards off.  These flies will be for sale here. 

Alex caught a 23” smallmouth last year on the river in Tellico Lake.  That fish weighed at least 6 pounds.  Jack and I saw one we think weighed 7 pounds.  Unfortunately for us, a smaller 4 pound fish ate his fly before the larger smallie could get to it.  That was something to see.

It will be interesting to see how the brook trout spawn in the Smokies fared.  We got some heavy rain after both the brook trout and brown trout spawned.  The Park Service biologists think the brown trout beds were washed out in some rivers.  But, they think the brook trout might have done OK, due to the fact they live in smaller streams.  Only science will determine what happened.  When the biologists sample the populations this Summer, they will know how well the spawn did in the Smoky Mountains.  If they do not capture small, young of the year trout, they will know.  Anglers will know too, later in the year. If fishermen are catching large fish and not catching small trout, we will know.

It really does not matter.  Floods that come after trout spawn is natures way of keeping the population in check.  Floods and droughts affect the trout population.  If a year class of a particular species is lost one year, fishing is still good, maybe better.  We have less fish competing for food and they grow larger.  Most fly fishermen notice when the fish are larger but do not notice if there are less of them. 

There are a lot more trout in these streams than we actually catch.  Watch the Park Service Biologists shock a pool and you will be amazed at how many trout are living there.  One day when I was helping the biologists, we captured over 500 trout in a 200 meter section of Abrams Creek.  Before we shocked the water, a friend of mine and I fished through that section.  We didn’t catch one trout.  See what I mean?

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

Byron Begley
February 22, 2013

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