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 overcast and 28 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The big chill will be over after tonight.  The ice and snow storm missed us.  Newfound Gap Road may still be closed in the Smokies.  The Park service Twitter account announced the road was closed yesterday and has not mentioned it re-opening.

Little River is flowing at 291 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.09 feet on the flow gauge.  The water temperature this morning is 41 degrees, down from near 50 degrees two days ago.  Now, we’ll watch that number go back up.

I would say fishing is slow today due to the cold water.  Flows are great in the streams.  If you do go fishing in the Smoky Mountians today don’t expect much.  I would use nymphs and get them down.  You never know, a hatch might occur.  If it does, switch to a dry fly.  Be prepared with Pheasant Tails, Quill Gordon wet flies, Blue Wing Olive dry flies, small black caddis patterns to imitate the tiny black stoneflies and always have some Quill Gordon and Blue Quill dry fly patterns in your box this time of year.

Hey, we’ve got better fishing conditions coming soon.  Temperatures for the most part over the next few days will be above average.  High temperatures this week, after today, will be in the low to mid 60’s except for Thursday with a high of 55 degrees. Low temperatures at night will be in the 30’s to 40 degrees.

This weekend looks good.  There is a slight chance for rain with highs in the mid 60’s.  Fishing will improve.

In a week or so, if this warming trend continues, we’ll see some flowers blooming.  In a week or so, the chance for cold weather diminishes.  When the water temperature reaches 50 degrees and that number is sustained, fishing will be excellent.  That is going to happen very soon, maybe. 

Yesterday I mentioned the blizzard of 1993.  Remember that one?  It happened in mid-March.  A group of 117 high school students, hiked into the Smokies for survival training.  During that time, they were dumped on by several feet of snow.  All of them, and others who were caught in that surprise blizzard made it out of the Park and the Cherokee National Forest.  Many were snatched off the mountaintops by Army Helicopters.  I remember one student, who made snow shoes from branches, and walked out of the forest that was covered with snow drifts up to 5 feet deep.

There isn’t much online about this near tragic Smoky Mountians storm.  News coverage on the web was limited at that time.  I remember it well.  I had 36 inches of snow at my house.  I did find another article in the New York Times.  READ IT BY CLICKING HERE.

This reinforces the fact that you can’t predict what will happen in March around here.  I called L.L. Bean and ordered some snowshoes that week.  They didn’t get here in time.  They are hanging in the man cave waiting for another storm like that one.

We are pretty busy here but nothing like we will be when that water hits 50 degrees.  We are anticipating that period of time.  Every day, UPS and FedX are bringing in boxes full of fishing gear.  We are stocking up.

We also placed a large order with Simms Sunday for delivery in July through October.  Sure, that order has waders and wading boots on it.  But there is some merchandise coming we have not stocked in many years, clothing.  We’re going to try the clothing business again.  Simms, Orvis and Patagonia sell clothing to dealers.  We are dealers for all three.  This is new ground for us.  We’ve been in business almost 20 years.  Selling clothing is something we don’t know much about.  This will be an expensive learning experiment.  We’ll start slow and carefully. 

We remodeled the store last Fall.  We moved the fly tying department upstairs.  This left room downstairs for clothing.  We have been known as a tackle and fly tying store for two decades.  Maybe it is time for a change.  We’ve been planning this clothing thing for months.

I got an e-mail from a customer yesterday.  He said a store in Knoxville put all of their fly tying merchandise on sale and said they were getting out of the tying business.  I have not verified that.

Also, three fly shops have closed in East Tennessee during the past few months.  Another shop closed in Nashville.  Orvis is opening a new company store in Nashville this Spring.  It will be located in Green Hills.

I hated to see those stores close.  They were all needed.  Fly shops provide jobs.  Fly shops encourage fly fishing, which is good for the industry.  We all wish this business was easier to manage and easy to survive in.  It’s not.  We all wish fly shops were more profitable.  They are not.  I’ve been doing this long enough to know. 

Some stores are faring better since the economy started improving.  Ours is doing better.  We are planning for a big year.  Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. 

Of course, our worst enemy or our best friend is the weather.  Weather influences fishing.  Weather controls the fishing industry. That is a fact that everyone in this business realizes.  And, it is out of our control. 

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

Byron Begley
March 4, 2014

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