Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
February 23, 2010

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and we are getting a little rain this morning.  Fog is following the path of Little River as it winds through our town.  That happens fairly often.  Most of the snow in the mountains has melted except for the higher elevations.  Mount Leconte still has 32 inches of snow on the ground this morning. 

This would be a good day to fish in the Park and through town.  The water is still 43 degrees here but probably colder in the Park depending on where you are.  Overcast days are good.  I would probably use a streamer or big nymph and fish deep in the larger streams.  I would use an olive Wooly Bugger in Little River through town.  Those stockers seem to love them.

This cold, wet winter has been tough on the fly fishing business.  I know we have been suffering through it but I did not know how widespread it has been until I started calling fly shops and sporting goods stores this week.  I am calling these stores to promote Troutfest.  We have about 100 total and I probably called 60 of those.  Sarah called the others.  They are in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and South Carolina.

The story is all the same.  Here in Townsend we have dealt with the Park closing, usually on weekends, due to ice and snow on the roads.  Throughout the Southeast the problem has been too much water below the dams and very cold temperatures.  If you are a wade fisherman you try to time your trip when there is no or little generation.  In many areas that opportunity has not happened in a long time. 

I talked to one shop in Virginia.  He said the spring creeks in his area are fishing fine.  The problem is, once an angler gets to the stream after walking in show that is 2 feet deep, they are too tired to fish.  A fly shop owner in Nashville told me this has been the worst year in over 20 years for fishing opportunities in that area.  The Caney Fork is the closest tailwater and they have been pouring water through the dam.  The Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam is another favorite spot for anglers from Middle Tennessee.  They are trying to keep Lake Cumberland low due to problems with the dam so they are spilling there around the clock. 

Watershed managers from TVA and the Corps of Engineers lower the lakes during the winter so there is sufficient capacity to capture and hold the spring rains to avoid flooding.

I know most of the fly shop owners and managers in our region.  We couldn’t help but make fun of our situation.  When I called a store and I knew the person who answered I said, “My name is Byron Begley.  Would you be interested in buying a struggling fly shop?”  I got some funny answers.  “No thanks, I already have one.”  “Are you kidding, you think I want two of them?”    

So, we are all in this boat together.  That gives us all some comfort.  There is some good news.  Spring-like weather will be here soon, I hope. It might be a couple of weeks away or maybe longer but it will come.  When it does, these stores are going to be covered up with anglers suffering from cabin fever.  I can’t wait.  A lot of other people in our business including our manufacturers can’t wait either.  

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

Byron Begley
February 23, 2010 

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