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 45 degrees.  I drove to work at daybreak and passed by Little River.  The water appeared to be clear.  It was hard to tell. I think it is.

Little River is flowing at 299 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.11 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 405 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 48.5 degrees.

We got some rain and the water levels increased some yesterday.  The predicted inch of rain didn’t happen here.  We got less than ½” in our gauge. 

I think fishing was probably good yesterday, maybe excellent.  We don’t know because most anglers stayed home or fished somewhere else. I bet it was a perfect day.  Fishing should be very good today because we have cloud cover.  It will rain off and on, which is also an advantage for early Spring anglers.  The water temperature is starting out slightly warmer than it has been lately.  I would go.

We’ve had some decent hatches of Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Black Caddis and other aquatic insects.  Except for the cold spell we had a couple of days ago, the water temperature has been good.  Anglers and guides are reporting sporadic hatches and some dry fly success.  Most anglers who are doing well are switching to nymphs or wet flies when the surface activity is slow.  A dry and dropper is a good choice right now.

This week looks good for us.  Friday’s high is supposed to be 71 degrees.  Except for today, the chance for rain is low.  It might rain Saturday.

Our business is good and up from last March so far.  One category that is performing extremely well is fishing license sales.  We are selling a lot more fishing licenses than we did last year.  That tells me more people are fishing this year or somebody in town has stopped selling them, and sending customers to us.  We have less fishing license sales agents than we did years ago.  One large one stopped selling them. 

We sell a lot of fishing licenses to anglers who do not fly fish.  As a result, we don’t sell them anything else.  Selling one fishing license can take a staggering amount of time if the purchaser doesn’t understand the TWRA laws.  They don’t know which license to buy.  There is often confusion.  Sometimes I think they don’t believe us.  Most of the confusion comes from the all species license or trout stamp as they are sometimes called. 

We have people come in here and tell us somebody at a campground said “they don’t need a license as long as they are fishing from the campground property”.  This is caused by a misunderstanding of the “Tenant Exception”. It is true, in our state, a tenant can fish on an owners property without a license.  A tenant is also defined as someone living on the property, and is involved in agriculture on that property.  Camping on someone’s property does not qualify unless the camper is helping the campground harvest a garden or plowing land. 

Anyway, I can understand why stores get out of the fishing license sales business.  They lose money on the transaction if the customer uses a credit card and they have to get involved in misunderstandings.  We’ve stuck with it for almost 20 years.  I guess we will continue to sell fishing licenses for now.  I would rather sell flies.

It is beginning to look like Spring.  Flowers are blooming.  When I left the house this morning, birds were chirping from all directions.  It was daybreak at the time.  The sky was barely lit.  But those birds were making all kinds of noise.  Last night when I got home, a lonely wild turkey hen was in the driveway.  Those birds have been together in flocks.  Now, I think they are splitting up, preparing to mate.  Now that is a happy time around here.  We know it’s Spring when the turkeys break away from the group.  That time has come.

Soon, if they have not already, the smallmouth bass in the lowland rivers will get active.  I’ve not heard a thing from the smallmouth fly fishermen.  I’m anxiously waiting.

Alan Creech, from The Lexington Angler, sent me his favorite smallmouth bass pattern.  Alex and Scott, a couple of nice guys who work in the shop in Lexington, Kentucky brought it to me yesterday.  They are here to fish for a few days, on spring break at UK. 

This fly looks awesome.  I know it will work.  It has a two-layer/two color foam body, a two-color marabou tail, and lots of silicone legs in the tail and hanging off the body.  Underneath, the hook is wrapped with some sort of Estaz and very soft hackle, maybe more maribou.  It is similar to a Gurgler.  I think it is tied on a #10 Gamakatsu stinger hook.  I’m going to tie some of these.  I’ve know Alan for a long time.  He has always been an avid fly tyer and a very innovative one.  This fly is an example of that.

I hear great things about the Lexington Angler. This store is known as a very friendly fly shop. Click on their website HERE. I grew up near Lexington.  I was born there and lived there at one time.  It is a nice small city. 

Central Kentucky has some excellent smallmouth bass fishing.  Many anglers drive to the Cumberland River and Dix River to fish for trout.  There are other good trout streams in the State if you know where to look.  There are some awesome lakes too.  I think Lake Cumberland is the largest impoundment east of the Mississippi.  It’s a great place to live. 

Fly fishing is a very popular sport in Lexington and surrounding towns.  We are blessed with many Central Kentucky customers here.  It's not a long drive to the Smokies from there.  I’ve lived in Tennessee about 40 years but I still think of Central Kentucky as home.  I have a lot of friends there.  I have a lot of fond memories from that beautiful part of the country.  My best friend, Frank Brown, lives in Richmond.

Paula and I talked about going to Kentucky to fish just last night.  We’re thinking about dragging the boat to Lake Cumberland.  Someday, I want to take her on a cruise down the Kentucky River.  Now that would bring back memories.

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

Byron Begley
March 17, 2014

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