Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
February 26, 2010

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  The sun is shining, the sky is clear blue and the temperature is 22 degrees.  As we come close to the end of February and look forward to March there will be a warming trend shown in the forecast.  This weekend the high temperatures will be around 46 here in the valley. 

The water is pretty cold right now in Little River, 35 degrees in town, colder than that in the mountains.  The water level is right at normal for this date.  It’s clear.  Cold water does not hold dissolved solids so those trout are going to be able to see you, your leader, line and anything else around you and them.  They will be spooky and inactive until the water warms up some. 

When the water temperature reaches the mid 40’s the trout become more active.  You might see some hatches of blue wing olives, quill gordons and blue quills.  When it reaches 50 degrees the aquatic insect activity increases.  The trout’s metabolism gets more active too.  They need to eat more food.  The water temperature in the mid to high 50’s brings on the trout’s voracious appetite and great fishing.

That is what we are all waiting for.

When that happens, anglers will be on the water.  We all hope the lakes don’t get too much water from rains and require lots of generating to keep the lake levels down.  That has been happening most of the winter so fishing has been intermittent or totally impossible for the wade fisherman much of the time. 

We’ll see some anglers on the water this weekend in the Smokies.  These trout can be caught using streamers and large nymphs.  I was talking to Jack yesterday and last night about how our habits have changed over the years.  Hunting and fishing has always been a big part of my life and his.

We discussed how the fish and game laws we grew up complying with vary greatly from what we live with now.  For instance, trout season opened around April 15th from our recollection.  And the season closed in October.  Back then, people didn’t know much about the early Spring hatches because they occurred before the season opened.  People also didn’t know about winter trout fishing.  You were not allowed.  So, we switched gears to hunting after the trout season closed. 

Jack told me yesterday, “When they opened trout season to year-round, I was in heaven”.  That is when he started learning about fishing for browns in the late fall and winter.  He figured it out on his own.  There was no mentor to show him how to do it, nobody knew how to do it.  He knows how and has passed his information on to only a few people. 

I got online last night to get rates and availability at Tapoco Lodge.  I’ve always wanted to stay there and fish Calderwood Lake and Slickrock Creek which are close by. Tapoco Lodge was built by Alcoa, the Aluminum Company of America.  It was sold to a family in North Carolina at some point who have operated it for years.  To my surprise, it has closed.  And it is for sale.  I contacted a friend of mine this morning who owns two lodges here.  Maybe he is interested in buying it. I hated to get that news last night.

A lot of people I know and me hate to drive over there.  The road is highway 129, and it winds more than any road I’ve been on.  For that reason, motorcycle enthusiasts have been drawn to the road from all over the United States and other countries.  They call it the “Tail of the Dragon”.  Many riders try to make the ride as fast as they can.  I have driven over there to fish several times and find my truck being tailgated by people on motor cycles.  Then they fly past with no regard for safety or the law. I’ve had people on motorcycles head straight toward me in my lane.  Of course, a lot of people are killed or injured on the dragon every year. I don't know a more dangerous road to drive. So, pulling a boat over there is tense.  I finally quit going and there are probably a lot of people like me who have done the same thing. 

That can’t be good for the lodge business.

If you are looking for something to do Saturday (Tomorrow) we have just the thing.  Our Free Fly Tying Demonstration will feature Ray Ball and Tim Ivey.  Ray lives here.  He is an unbelievable fisherman and hunter in the true Southern Appalachian way.  He grew up next to the Park and fished the streams his way all his life.  Tim is a professional fly tyer and demonstrator from Georgia.  He is on the Whiting Farms Pro Team and he is amazing to watch.  This will be our last Free Fly Tying Demo Saturday until Fall.  

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

Byron Begley
February 26, 2010

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