Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
February 27, 2010

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  Right now it is sunny and 26 degrees.  I heard birds chirping this morning when I stepped outside.  So I guess we’ll have s Spring-like day.  Great!  Wait a minute.  What’s this?  Rain and snow this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow?   There is a front moving down from the North and it contains snow.  We’re not too worried about it.  The high today will be 40 degrees and tomorrow will be 44.  But, there is always some bad weather thrust upon us on weekends it seems. 

Actually, if this does happen and it gets cloudy, fishing in the Park will be better than it would with this bright sun.  The water temperature in town is 36 degrees.  That’s chilly.  The water level is good.  The gauge below the “Y” is reporting 2.25 feet or 284 cubic feet per second of flow. 

It is getting to be time for the Spring hatches, Quill Gordon, Blue Quill and Blue Wing Olives.  Actually the BWO’s hatch during the winter.  Wisdom based on decades of experience indicate that the Spring hatches begin when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees.  But, we also know that the bugs do hatch when the water is colder than that if the time is right.  Doug told me yesterday he saw a Quill Gordon at Elkmont flying around.  They do hatch in cold water but not in huge numbers.  This year could prove to be an exception.  The water is not going to be 50 degrees over the next few days.  So, I guess we’ll see what happens.

If you do go fishing have some Quill Gordons, BWOs and Blue Quills in your box.  Longer-term forecasts predict a warming trend coming in a week. 

I would fish deep with streamers and big nymphs right now. 

We still have a lot of snow in the mountains.  Yesterday’s report indicated 46 inches at Mount Leconte and 30 inches at Newfound Gap.  Walter Babb reminded me this morning about the melting snow and fishing success.  When that stuff turns to water the streams will become acidic.  Acid deposition has accumulated on these high mountain peaks and it’s just waiting to come down here and lower the ph.  We won’t have fish kills or anything like that but a low ph has an effect on the trout’s demeanor.  They hate that!  It won’t last long but it will happen.

Ray Ball and Tim Ivey will be tying at the store today between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.  It’s free, just come on by.  You will enjoy this one and you will learn a lot from these two guys. 

Well, I talked to a lot of fly shop owners again yesterday on behalf of Troutfest.  The reports from them about business over the last few months is not good.  The problem has been and continues to be “the weather”.  We are just like farmers, totally dependent on the weather.  I’m not talking about selling leaders and tippet, I am referring to the total business.  When anglers are not fishing, they are not buying.  When anglers are not buying, we are not stocking our shelves.  When we don’t stock our shelves, our manufacturers are unhappy and their suppliers of raw materials and labor are affected adversely. 

The big problem in our region is high water.  I talked to a guide in Kentucky yesterday who works on the Cumberland River tailwater below Lake Cumberland.  They have been generating or spilling at the rate of 20,000 to 28,000 cubic feet per second for a long time.  That is a lot of water!  They need to bring down the level of Lake Cumberland at least 8 more feet.  Lake Cumberland is huge.  I think it is the largest impoundment East of the Mississippi River.

I talked to Eddie Wyatt who owns The Fly Shop of Tennessee.  Eddie rented a booth in the National Tent at Troutfest.  He’ll have a shop set up but he will be tying most of the time.  That little 10’ x 10’ area will be a huge attraction at Troutfest.  I put him on an end so we can bring in chairs if needed.  He is an exceptional fly tyer and designer.  Eddie is also a very nice guy.  I am happy he is coming.

Reports from Florida vary greatly.  Freezing temperatures have actually killed some fish.  Reports include the smell of death in the Everglades, tarpon kills, redfish kills, bonefish kills, snook kills and everything else you can think of. 

Then I talk to other people who say it won’t affect the fishing at all or it’s not as bad as people are saying.  Maybe the fish kills were spotty or exaggerated.  Or it could be bad.  I fished in the Everglades for tarpon in the mid 1980’s after a freeze and fish kill.  The fishing was slow then.  I guess we could blame that on just about anything.  Sometimes fishing is slow.  Maybe the moon was full.

My opinion, based on 50 years of experience, fishing in Florida from the Panhandle to the Keys is the fishing will be fine. I’m not an expert but I’ve done a lot of fishing in Florida.  Those are big oceans out there.  Those fish move around a lot.  Some of those tarpon we catch are 50 years old and older.  They have endured cold water temperatures before or swam to warm water if they needed to.

I got an interesting e-mail the other day.  It was video footage of a black bear sow and her cub.  What was most interesting, this bear was missing a front leg.  Even more notable than that, she did most of her walking erect and on her back legs.  She looked like a person walking around in a bear suit.  I’m convinced it is real.

Please click on the Troutfest image below to learn more about this huge event.

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

Byron Begley
February 27, 2010

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