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 38 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was light at 8:00 am when I drove to work. 

Little River is flowing at 485 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.52 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 317 cfs.  The water temperature is 43 degrees this morning.

Fishing may be fair today.  The water level in Little River is what we describe as “the high side of good”.  When the water is higher than it is now, we don’t allow beginner students on the water.  At 2.5 feet we take them out.  Many anglers prefer lower water.  It’s just a personal choice.  The water is swift in some locations so care should be taken when wading. Actually, care should always be taken when wading. 

If I went fishing today I would start with nymphs fished deep.  The water temperature is not exactly ideal for trout activity.  Water temperatures at 50 degrees or higher are more ideal.  I think 58 degrees is perfect.

You may see some bugs on the water.  Blue Wing Olives and black stoneflies might be on the water.  You could also see some Quill Gordons and Blue Quills but not in high numbers.

Cold air and possibly light snow is in the near future.  The National Weather Service predicts very light snow in the valley and up to an inch in the mountains.  Tomorrow night’s low is expected to be in the teens.  Then, we will gradually warm.  We should expect highs in the 50’s and 60’s beginning Friday.

March can be an excellent fly fishing month in the Smokies.  That depends on the weather of course.  The worst snow storm I remember since I moved here over 20 years ago occurred in early March.  As far as temperatures go, normal high is 61 degrees and normal low is 33 degrees next month.  It can be much warmer or colder and those conditions vary greatly during March.

We are usually busy in March and we are getting ready for that.  Our Spring merchandise has either shipped or it will ship Friday or Monday from all of our vendors. 

I spent a couple of days this week re-ordering merchandise for the fly tying department.  I re-stocked from every vendor.  That was done twice in February.  For some reason, we have had a big run on hackle, mostly dry fly necks.  We have placed orders with Metz and Whiting Farms to remedy that.  Hopefully, they have what we need. 

Our fly tying department’s sales are way up from last year.  I think it is because we moved it to the mezzanine level.  We have 700 square feet allotted to the tying department.  Before, it was downstairs and spread out.  I think the new department is way more customer friendly.  Whatever the reason, we are ordering more frequently and the orders are larger.

Our fly rod sales for November through January were up over 50% from the same period a year ago.  We know for sure why that happened.  We moved that department downstairs from the mezzanine.  That department is certainly more customer friendly.  Reels and fly lines followed that rod growth as you would expect.  When a customer buys a new fly rod, they often purchase a reel and fly line.

We got a big fly order in yesterday.  We’ve got Quill Gordon and Blue Quill dry flies stocked and ready for the big hatch, whenever it occurs.  We saw some of those bugs on the water a week ago. They may be there now.  Usually, when they start hatching, they continue even if the water cools as it has.  The big hatches won’t happen until the water temperature reaches 50 degrees again.

I plan to take a day off tomorrow and tie saltwater flies.  My plan is to tie Game Changers that resemble pinfish.  That is not going to be easy to do.  A pinfish is short and has a high profile, like a bluegill.  Redfish and speckled trout love pinfish and we’ll be using these in Port St. Joe Bay.  That bay is loaded with pinfish.  Paula and I were there a few years ago with some friends during scallop season. 

Harvesting scallops is a lot of fun and they are my favorite seafood.  Scallops hide in weed beds.  We tried to stay in 5 or 6 feet of water over the beds using fins, a mask and snorkel.  You need a net bag to put the scallops in.  All you do is dive down to the bottom and catch those shellfish but believe it or not, they try to get away from you. Paula, Dianna and I did the diving work.  Tom stayed in the boat and removed the meat from the shells. 

One thing I did notice during those days was a huge population of pinfish.  They were everywhere we found scallops.  It was on that vacation, I decided to start tying pinfish flies.  Until now, they were tied using Puglisi EP fibers.  I’ve caught lots of different saltwater species on pinfish patterns, even tarpon, big ones.

We had a tarpon guide tell us once, that he didn’t think my large pinfish patterns would work.  I tried one anyway.  I cast to the first tarpon that swam by.  He was probably about a 70 pound fish.  That tarpon actually chased my pinfish pattern and ate it right in front of us.  I got him on and eventually landed it.  Our guide couldn’t believe it.  After that, he encouraged me to keep using pinfish imitations.  Paula used them too.  Tarpon loved them. 

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

Byron Begley
February 25, 2014   

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