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 39 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I am at home.  This is my day off. 

Yesterday, rain fell in the Great Smoky Mountains in the Little River Watershed.  Little River’s flow gauge started the day at 2.5 feet.  It did not rain in town, but the river started to rise fast.  It rose about 1 foot quickly.  Kayakers noticed it.  They were heading into the park with their whitewater boats.  Two anglers told me the water was high and off color.  I checked the flow gauge online and sure enough, the river was rising.  I placed a warning on this Fishing Report.  I told readers not to go fishing in the Little River Watershed.

Yesterday was not a safe day to be in the Smokies due to the wind anyway.  The river peaked and started falling in the afternoon.  It did not come close to the two previous high water events we have had during the past two months.  I was being cautious. 

Right now, at 7:53, am Little River is flowing at 2.91 feet or 616 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 315 cfs. The water temperature is 45 degrees.

Today, we have a slight chance for showers and a predicted high temperature of 50 degrees. 

A cold front is approaching.  Through Friday, the lows will be around freezing.  High temperatures will be in the low 40’s.  Low temperatures this weekend will be in the 20’s.  There is a chance for rain or snow every day through Sunday.

What happened to Angler’s Spring?  Last year, which was highly unusual, warm temperatures and excellent fishing occurred in early February.  Bugs were popping off the water, anglers were experiencing great dry fly fishing and our business was booming.  Except for the heavy rainfall, this year has been more normal. 

The “Snow Storm of the Century” happened here in the early 90’s during the first week of March.  We had snow accumulations of 3 feet or more in the valley.  Measurements in the Smoky Mountains exceeded 4 feet.  Backpackers were stranded in the Smokies.  Helicopters were used to pluck the backpackers off the high peaks. Power outages lasted over a week.  So, what we see now is closer to normal than what we saw last year. 

Most likely, the excellent fishing will happen here in two weeks.  That would be more normal based on my 20 years living here.  We’ll just have to wait.  It won’t be long.  The long-term forecast indicates a gradual warming trend next week.

Angler’s Spring is a term I use to describe the coming of the first Spring mayfly hatches, the Quill Gordons and the Blue Quills in the Great Smoky Mountains.  To be at that point, the water temperatures in the Smokies streams need to be sustained at around 50 degrees.  Daytime temperatures will be in the 60’s.  The lows at night will be in the 40’s.  That is what we are waiting for.

Daniel spent all day yesterday lining up our Spring shipments.  Many of them will head our way on Friday or early next week.  I spent the day trying to re-stock our fly tying department.  That requires about a day and a half  of ordering and 2 days of receiving stock.  We have had a very busy February despite the odd weather.

Our fly shipments will be timed with what we think will be working best before the flies arrive.  Once Angler’s Spring begins, that is fairly easy to predict.  Those flies were ordered last year.  The exact ship dates can be altered depending on weather.  Now, we are pulling the trigger.  It’s time.

As Spring arrives in the Southeast United States, we start selling a lot of terminal tackle, leaders, tippet, floatant and flies.  We keep an extra back-stock of 4 to 6 cases of Frog’s Fanny in the event there is a production problem at that company which has happened before.  We order Frog’s Fanny as we need it, probably every other week during the peak season. Those extra cases are there for an emergency.  We have shipped Frog’s Fanny as far away as New Zealand.  Fly fishermen love Frog’s Fanny floatant.

I’m going to the river this morning to test some new Bass Buggers I’ve been tying.  At issue is, “Will the tail foul in the hook?”  These Wooly Buggers are tied on bass stinger hooks made by Gamakatsu.  The shape of the hook and the wide gap worries me.  Tying Wooly Buggers on a normal streamer hook is almost never a problem.  The tail does not wrap around the hook bend. 

I can’t find any of our fly tying companies who offer a plain black wooly bugger that is weighted and tied on a stinger hook.  Maybe there is a reason for that.  I’ll find out today.  If the tail wraps around the hook, I will tie in a mono loop to keep that from happening. 

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

Byron Begley
February 27, 2013

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