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 snowing lightly and 30 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The roads are fine.  I even pulled the boat to work.  The roofs are white, but all we have is a dusting of snow.  It will end soon.

Little River is flowing at 230 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.92 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 350 cfs.  The water temperature has dropped to 45 degrees.

The Fishing Gauge is pointing to “Good” and there is a reason for that.  Once the early Spring hatches begin, they continue, even if the temperatures cool off like they have.  I was talking to Walter Babb Tuesday.  He said he likes to fish when the weather is awful during the Spring hatches.  He said, the bugs have a hard time flying off and they are easy targets, heightening the trout’s surface feeding activity.  I don’t know if that will happen today.  But, it is a possibility.

Fishing has been good at times this past week and slow at times.  That is consistent with early Spring fishing.  We’ll need to see the water warm into the 50’s and stay that way to really get the action going, while moving the Fishing Gauge to Excellent. 

It is going to warm up.  Highs will be in the 60’s with lows in the 40’s starting tomorrow.  Warm temperatures are predicted for the next 10 days.  The average high in March is 61 degrees and the average low is 33.  What we will see is higher than normal temperatures this weekend and later next week. Sunday and Monday will be cooler than normal.  It may rain Sunday.

The National Park Service in the Great Smoky Mountains has announced that Newfound Gap Road is closed due to snow and ice.  They report, at least for now, that other roads in the park are open. 

Yesterday was my day off and I spent most of it driving to the boat dealer and having the impellers replaced on the motor’s water pump.  This motor is a Mercury 20 hp 4-stroke that is four years old. 

I bought the boat and motor from, and became friends with Jimmy Hensley who owns Tri-County Marine in Morristown, Tennessee. Round trip from our house is 3 hours. 

I have heard, from some people, you should replace the rubber impellers in your outboard engine every two years.  Other friends has told me they’ve never done it.  Last Fall, when I did the winter maintenance on the engine I called Tri-County Marine and asked them about it.  They told me they should be replaced every two years.

So, I called Jimmy and asked if I could drive over yesterday and wait to get this done. 

Sure enough, when they pulled out the 4 year old impellers, they were so cracked and degraded, they could have gone at any time.  When a impeller blade comes loose, it can clog your cooling system resulting in a motor overheating situation.  Bad things can happen.  It costs about $100 to replace this part on a 20 hp Mercury.  That is money well spent.

The boat is ready to go.  All we need now is a little warm-up on the lakes and fishing will begin. 

Jimmy knows more about outboard motors than anyone I know.  He has top notch technicians working there.  They call me by name and almost always get things done while I wait.  I also send Tri-County Marine new customers.   

Jimmy’s hobby is racing boats.  He has two.  The huge Mercury engines are custom made by him and the guys who work in the shop.  Just to give you an idea, each cylinder of these 6 cylinder engines has two spark plugs.  It seems like every time I’m there, the engines are torn apart.  They are always working on something.

Jimmy told me he was racing somewhere in South Carolina I think.  He said his motor ran fine and then it would quit during the trials. He finally figured it out.  He was using some super sensitive spark plugs.  They were affected in a negative way by someone who was using a HAM radio in the area.  They found the guy evidently.  He had a tall antennae they could see from the lake they were racing on.  Jimmy had to switch out his plugs to race.

Jimmy wins money at these races.  But, he donates all of his winnings to charity.  He says he does that for two reasons.  One, he feels more motivated to win, knowing that money will help someone who needs it.  Second, the other people who race against him don’t create or hold grudges since he is doing it for fun and someone else’s benefit.

Boat racing is a very competitive sport and Jimmy is a competitive man.  In his case, his competitors are friends.  He also knows a lot about building outboard engines that win races.  He helps others improve their engines.  He helps them when things go wrong so they can race that day.  He’s a cool guy to spend the day with.

It’s time to open the shop.  The sun is out now.  The weather is looking better.

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

Byron Begley
March 13, 2014

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