Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is partly cloudy and 54 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The wind is blowing hard.  The air is clear and the sun is about to show through the clouds behind the mountains.  What a pretty morning it is.

Trees are blooming.  I heard a dove mourning earlier.  It must be about time for them to mate.  The wild turkeys are scattered.  It’s about time for them to mate.  Spring is here, almost.  A cold front is moving in tonight bringing thunderstorms and high wind.  After that passes, cold air will prevail with lows near freezing and below.  Wouldn’t you know it, Wednesday is my day off and it is going to be cool and very windy.  Paula and I had planned to take the boat out.

Little River is flowing at 361 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 381 cfs.  The water seems high but it usually is this time of year.  The water temperature in the river was 52 degrees at 7:40 am. 

This was a strange weekend fishing wise.  It was windy and warm.  Little River’s water temperature at the “Y” held above 50 degrees both days.  Yesterday the water temperature climbed to 55 degrees.  There were very few hatches and rising trout reported.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it was the wind.

I try to be honest and conservative when predicting the fishing.  I don’t want anyone to be disappointed.  I look at the conditions, listen to experts, listen to customers and think about my experiences.  I really thought the fishing was going to be good this weekend.  I was wrong.  I don’t know why I was wrong.  A lot of people were wrong.  It was good for some anglers.  I think they were in the right place at the right time and used nymphs.   

For sure, the anglers who did best fished in the backcountry with nymphs.  Some people found hatches by chance and caught trout on dry flies.  For the most part, fishing was slow.  Everyone is puzzled.  Pete stopped by the shop as I was leaving after closing time.  He said he saw only one Quill Gordon and that was when he was packing it in to go home.

On the other hand, smallmouth fishing in Little River was very good this weekend.  Josh Pfeiffer of Frontier Anglers Guide Service had a great day Saturday.  He caught one smallie that measured 20 inches.  She was full of eggs so he weighed her before the release.  She weighed exactly 4 pounds.  He caught several other fish.  Josh is a smallmouth addict and guide.  He is good at it.  He was floating and fishing by himself that day.

I would say the fishing in the Smokies will be slow this week but I’m about over predicting Mother Nature.  We have not seen the big hatches yet.  They will come.  They may begin their mating activity when we least expect it.  It could be this week when the water is cold.  It has happened before.

Everyone worked hard here the past few days putting out the new Spring merchandise.  We were also busy selling it.  Thousands of flies have arrived.  All the new Fishpond stuff is here.  Shipments from Orvis and Simms came in.  There is more coming.

To me, the most exciting piece of gear I’ve seen is the Waterworks Lamson Velocity reel in the nickel finish.  These reels start at $249.  We have stocked the Velocity in the regular finish, just never in the nickel color.  I love reels more than anything we sell.  This one is special.  The machining is beautiful.  The Velocity is light, though not as light as some of the more expensive models.  The drag systems are all the same throughout the line.  The most expensive reels are the lightest.  Check out the Velocity Nickel finish reel by CLICKING HERE.  This is a lot of reel for the money.

Orvis is releasing the new Battenkill Bar Stock reel with a click and pawl drag in May.  I can’t wait.  I think this reel will start at $99.  I’m going by memory.  We ordered them last Fall.  They should be here in 6 to 8 weeks.  They are going to sell like crazy at that price.  Wait and see.

Last night I started tying weighted black Wooly Buggers on #1/0 jig hooks.  I keep talking to smallmouth bass experts including Tim Holschlag and Josh Pfeiffer who fish with large strike indicators.  Evidently, we miss a lot of strikes because the bass grabs the fly from behind and swims forward.  I can believe that.  When that happens, and you are using a strike indicator, the push forward moves your strike indicator from upright to its side.  At this point, it is time to set your hook.

These flies are weighted using 18 wraps of .02 lead free wire.  The wire is wrapped on the shank.  I think, when suspended below a strike indicator, this fly will be horizontal.  So, using this rig, with a big indicator several feet up from the fly, you can fish the banks normally, then when you know the fly is over deeper water, just let it drop and suspend.  If the indicator moves down or up, set the hook.  This trick may result in better bass fishing.  I’ll try it and see. 

There is something else I am going to try.  I like the football shaped hard foam strike indicators with a slit in the side and some polymer tubing threaded through.  To apply the indicator to your leader, you place your leader in the slot, pull on both ends of the tubing then turn the indicator with whatever fingers you have left.  The leader is then on the opposite side of the slit.  Sometimes, that leader works its way back to the slit and you indicator comes off.  I hate that. 

I keep rods and reels rigged and ready to go at home.  I’m planning to pre-attach these strike indicators to a couple of outfits, then fill the slit with a little bit of 5-minute epoxy, just enough to fill the slit.  Hopefully, the indicator will slide on the leader to adjust the depth, but won’t come off.  I think this process will render the indicator non-reusable if you remove it from your leader.  I’m going to try this.  I’ll let you know how it works out.

The wind is howling right now.  I don’t think this is going to be a good day to fish.

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

Byron Begley
March 18, 2013

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