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 sunny and 23 degrees in Townsend at 8:00 am.  I saw more than normal traffic on my way to work.  This is going to be a beautiful day and people are getting out to enjoy it.  Or, they are going to work. 

Little River is flowing slightly lower than normal for this time of year.  I have not said that often during the past year or so.  Flow right now is 315 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.15 feet on the gauge.  The water temperature is 36.2 degrees.

Fishing is going to be slow until the water warms.  I hope that happens this weekend.  Even David Knapp and his buddy from Crossville didn’t catch many or any yesterday. David is one of the best fly fishemen I know. He said they had some “follows”.  The sun was bright, the water is clear and the water is cold.

That may change.  It will be warmer beginning today and lasting at least through the weekend.  We’ll see highs in the 50’s and 60’s with lows in the 30’s and 40’s.  That will benefit Smoky Mountain fly fishermen.  Maybe not a lot, but it will improve the fishing conditions.  Also, we may get rain tonight and tomorrow.  The chance is only 30%.

We will most likely see rain Sunday night and Monday.  When it rains, it will be warm.  Warm rain will drive up the water temperatures and fishing will improve.  How much?  I don’t know. 

Yesterday I placed a USGS chart that depicted the daily water temperatures in Little River for the month of March last year.  You can see it by CLICKING HERE.  Last year, the water temperature bounced between 40 degrees and 55 degrees with significant changes every week.  When the water was warm, fishing was good.

We also had significant changes in water levels last March and throughout the Spring.  When the water was high, fishing was almost impossible.  We are all hoping that doesn’t happen this year. 

If you go fishing, start with nymphs today and tomorrow.  You may see adult aquatic insects on the water at times.  Try a dry fly.  They could be blue wing olives, caddis, black stones and possibly blue quills.  Anglers reported some hatches a week or so ago when the water warmed.  I even heard of some dry fly action.  Reports of some adult Quill Gordons were rare but still, they occurred during that time.  They were not flying around much, mostly resting on rocks.

The 10 day weather forecast looks about normal to me except Sunday when it will be unseasonably warm.

We got some fly tying materials in yesterday, thank goodness.  Keeping that department stocked has been tough this year.  Sales are way up from last year.  The ordering cycle takes about10 days depending on the vendor.  When the materials arrive, we have to re-order right away.  I’m waiting patiently for a Whiting Farms order.  A lot of our hackle was wiped out during the past two weeks.  We still have plenty of Metz and Keogh necks in most colors.  We never know what we are going to get in a Whiting Farms order.  Their supply chain is unpredictable because you can’t raise a chicken quickly and they don’t know what stores will order.  They are great people to work with and I’m not complaining at all.  Rooster saddles are really hard to get right now.  Necks are more abundant. 

Each rooster has one neck and one saddle.  Anglers prefer the saddles these days because they are much better for tying dry flies than they were 30 or 40 years ago.  I remember when everyone used necks for dry fly hackle and nobody used saddles.  Genetic breeding changed that.

Whiting Farms has been selectively breeding roosters that have long legs for years.  Long legs are important when breeding for long saddle hackle.  Long saddle feathers get damaged during the life of a rooster it if has short legs.  They drag on the ground. 

I guess Whiting Farms decided to breed for long legs instead of shorter saddle feathers.

I went to the new Ace Hardware yesterday to buy feather dusters and window washing equipment.  They had two types of feather dusters.  One, the $15 dollar variety was made from ostrich plumes.  The $2 feather duster was made from turkey flats.  It was obvious to me why.  We sell feathers!  We sell ostrich plumes and turkey flats.  Ostrich costs a lot more than turkey. Blame that on supply-side economics.  I opted for the feather dusters made from turkey flats for two bucks.

The $2 feather duster was probably made in China.  The $15 feather duster was probably made in China.  The gallon of window cleaning solution was made in the USA.  I verified that.

I think we’ll see a lot of people fly fishing this weekend.  I’m looking forward to it.

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

Byron Begley
February 28, 2014

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