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 in Townsend this morning.  It should be cloudy all day and a high temperature of 58 degrees.  This will be a warm week but we will see temperatures drop at night into the 30’s tomorrow and Thursday. 

Little River is flowing at 311 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.14 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 383 cfs.  The water temperature at 8: 05 am is 46.5 degrees.

Yesterday, the water temperature gradually dropped, all day long.  It never made it to 50 degrees.  We like to see water temperatures at 50 degrees or above for good fishing.  That is not to say fishing is not good right now.  I did not talk to any returning anglers yesterday.  Fishing, at least in the lower elevations might have been fine.

If you go today, be prepared for sporadic hatches of Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Blue Wing Olives, dark Caddis and stoneflies.  You may not see anything at all.  If you do, switch to a dry fly that mimics what you see on the water.

If dries don’t work, you will need to go to nymphs.  Most Smokies patterns will produce, but I would start with a Pheasant Tail or Quill Gordon wet fly.  I might try both using a tandem rig.

The cloud cover will be favorable to you but don’t expect the water temperature to shoot up to 50 degrees.  We would need sunshine to do that.  There will be plenty of sun Thursday and Friday along with very warm daytime temperatures.  The weekend looks awesome.

With the expected cloud cover today and tomorrow, you might consider using some larger flies, maybe streamers and try for some big browns in Little River around Metcalf Bottoms or upstream.  You could consider doing the same thing below The Sinks and downstream from there.

Fishing in the Smokies has not reached the level of excellent.  Not yet.  Just wait for the water to get warmer.  And hopefully, when it does, we won’t have huge rain events that swell the stream to a point of being un-fishable.

I got my first confirmed report yesterday of smallmouth bass action in Little River.  I saw the picture too.  It was a nice smallie, maybe 2 pounds or heavier.  The water temperature was 54 degrees downstream where this fish was caught using a nymph.  Now that got me excited.  I may give that a try later this week.  I’ve got some new flies I’m dying to use.

For some reason I started smallmouth bass fishing with a fly rod a few years ago and have not looked back.  I’ve been fly fishing over 50 years.  During that time, switching from targeting one species to another kept my interest peaked while gaining new knowledge.  First it was largemouth bass and bluegill.  Then it was trout.  Next was bonefish, then tarpon for ten years.  Then the addiction became salmon and steelhead.  After that came redfish.  Now, I’m hooked on smallmouth bass.

I really don’t care what I catch on a fly rod.  One of the best fights I ever had in freshwater was a big flathead catfish that ate a Puglisi Threadfin Shad.  I love catching carp on the fly but I’ve not figured that out yet. 

Catching smallmouth bass on a fly rod is my favorite sport right now.  I’m sure that will change at some point.

My age is catching up with me and my balance is not what it used to be.  That certainly affected my trout fishing.  And, there is nothing more thrilling than seeing a trout rise to the surface and sip my dry fly.  After all, isn’t that something we all love? 

Sight fishing is my real passion.  The fish could be a tarpon or a bluegill. For me, watching a fish swim to my fly and eating it is the ultimate thrill.  That will happen with a wild trout, living in clear water, in plain view, 15 to 20 feet away, in the same water you are standing in.  We love that.

You can do the same thing with a smallmouth bass, even in the lakes.  We have some very clear lakes around here.  Sometimes we can see the lake bottom in 12 to 15 feet of water depth.  Of course, in a boat and probably making some noise, fishing in clear water like that is a challenge.  Those smallmouth bas are spooky.  We try to tip the scales in our favor by fishing early or late when the sun is off the water.  And, we like to fish on cloudy days. 

Smallmouth bass, in these clear lakes, have time to closely inspect your fly.  We use a lot of floating foam flies that barely leave a ripple when it hits the water.  Often, the bass moves slowly toward your fly.  You see it happen right in front of your eyes.  Then, they sip that fly into their mouth.  You must have the patience to wait for that special moment.  Then, the game is on.  All heck breaks loose.  Man, I am ready for those days and special moments that do not come often enough.

Those thoughts are always on my mind when I’m reminded.  Certainly, those thoughts are on my mind right now.  Writing a fishing report every morning starts the day off right.  I love my job.

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

Byron Begley
March 18, 2014

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