Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
February 28, 2010

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  Townsend is quiet on this beautiful Spring-like day.  Spring-like day?  The National Weather Service forecast calls for a slight chance for rain today, 20%.  I would like to change that to 100% chance for snow.  The photo below was just snapped from my office window.  The Smoky Mountains which you would normally see from my perch are blocked by fog and snow. The white stuff is coming down.  It won’t stick to the roads in town or at least I don’t think it will.

Snow in the Smokies

I’ll call the Park Service and listen to their recorded “Road Closing Report”.  Well, the recording is not working.  When too many calls come in the voice recorder is overwhelmed and overworked.  Today is one of those days.  So, a lady answered the phone and my questions.  I asked her why they don’t update the road closings on their website.  That would save a lot of time and money for them.  Lately, I have talked to real people because hoards of callers interested in visiting the Park are taxing the system. Road conditions can change any time and roads are closed and re-opened during the day.  I bet it would cost a lot less money to put that updated information on the website in real time, instead of having to talk to me and everyone else.  I don’t mind talking to them though.  They don’t seem to mind talking to me either.  They know I’m getting the word out.

Highway 441 is closed.  Little River Road and Lyons Springs Road are closed.  Right now Laurel Creek Road to Cades Cove and Foothills Parkway on our side are open.  That could change.  Other roads are closed but I just asked for the ones close by.

Today is the last day you can drive around the Cades Cove Loop Road for at least two months.  Starting tomorrow the old road will be removed, sliced, diced, put back down and packed.  Better drainage systems will be installed.  And in the end a nice smooth coat of fresh black asphalt will be the final icing on the cake.  Hmmm!  The project was estimated at about $9 million a year ago.  I think it turned out to be a lot more than that. 

This needed to be done.  The loop road was in awful shape.  I attended a public meeting held by the Park Service in 2008.  They showed us the options that were available to them.  They asked for our written opinion.  The options included completing the project in phases, re-routing traffic around the construction area and at times sending visitors out Parson’s Branch Road.  This would take months.  The only option that made sense to most people and the Park Service was to close the Loop Road down completely and get it over with. 

This is going to be painful to the tourism business and our town.  The Park Service and all of us are hoping for a quick, 2 month job.  We all have our fingers crossed.  Everything depends on the weather.

If you want to go fishing today in our area you could fish the Middle Prong or West prong.  You could fish the Little River here in town.  TWRA has stocked recently so there were plenty of trout in the river and there are probably plenty left.  This overcast and snowy condition would be great for fishing.  The water is cold, 38 degrees in town.  The water level is close to normal, 269 cubic feet per second in Little River at the “Y”.  I’m sure some of the serious winter anglers will be on the water today.  Fish streamers or big nymphs and get them down.  Watch for a blue wing olive hatch.  Don’t count on catching a lot of fish but you might catch a big one.

Yesterday I called fly shops and sporting goods stores in Indiana and Ohio.  Hi guys!  I will call more today.  This is all part of our Troutfest Marketing program.  Sarah Weeks and I are building relationships with everyone on the retail side of our industry or at least those who are interested.  99% are very interested.  That is not as simple as it sounds.  Some stores have answering systems, and sometimes I push a number for fishing and don’t get an answer.  That happened at two stores yesterday.  I removed them from the list.

Then there are the Orvis Retail Company Stores.  For some reason they all know me. All of the Fishing Managers know about Troutfest and most of them read this report.  Orvis is a huge sponsor of Troutfest. They are also good at getting the word out to their stores.

The smaller independent shops like us are always willing to help.  I have good luck with Bass Pro Shops too.

I talked to Bill Bartee yesterday.  He owns Jesse Brown’s Outdoors in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He is a great guy and smart business man. I have built relationships with Gander Mountain Stores.  One of my good friends runs a store in Virginia.  Another big supporter of Troutfest is the fly fishing guy at Gander Mountain in Knoxville.  His name is Marshal Hall.  He has Troutfest Posters there already.    

Each store will get a small, full color poster mounted in a clear acrylic display, a business card holder and 200 business card sized Troutfest “Take Home” cards that will drive them to the Troutfest website.  (Click on the image below to access the website).

We came up with this marketing idea last year, tried it in 7 states and more than doubled our attendance.  We have expanded our range to 9 states this year.  The package each store gets costs us $9.50 most of which is shipping.  So, Sarah and I make the calls, get to know the people and hopefully that shop or store will help us by displaying our advertising in a good spot next to the cash register.  Most of them do just that. Thanks to all of you for your help.

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

Byron Begley
February 28, 2010 (I’m glad it’s about over.)

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