Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and 59 degrees in Townsend, Tennessee this morning.  There were a few cars on the road when I drove to work.  I recognized all but two or three.  There were not as many as I would expect with the beautiful weather we’ve been having.  There is a chance for rain today so maybe the bicyclists and hikers stayed home.

Little River could not look any better.  The water temperature was 54 degrees at around 8:30 am.  Flow is closer to normal at 420 cubic feet per second.  Median flow for this date is 368 cfs.  The water is clear and I saw a couple of fishermen near the swinging bridge.  People are certainly fishing.  I was off yesterday doing just that.  Daniel said we sold around $1,100  in fishing licenses yesterday.  It takes a lot of time to sell that many fishing licenses. 

Daniel and Ethan both told me this morning that anglers are reporting large hatches of mayflies and stoneflies.  There are plenty of bugs on the water.  Trout are being caught but not in the numbers you might expect with these conditions.  When that happens we usually blame the moon.  When the water temperature is good and the food source is plentiful fishing is excellent, right?  There is one other component that impacts anglers who are fishing during the day.  What was the moon like the night before?  Were the trout feeding at night?  We think so.  We don’t know of course. 

I don’t know what time the cloud cover moved in last night.  When the moon is full or near full, clouds can reverse the effect on night feeding, I guess. 

If you go fishing today you will have the cloud cover as your friend unless it clears out.  It is a better friend if it blocked the moon last night.  Use large gray mayfly patterns like a Quill Gordon or Parachute Adams.  A Blue Quill pattern might also be best. 

One reliable report about smallmouth fishing in the rivers is, it is just a little early.  But, the water temperature this morning in town is 54 degrees and it will keep warming up throughout the day.  Maybe those fish will turn on at any time. 

Paula and I arrived at the launch ramp yesterday morning.  We were getting ready to go when one of our customers had just come back from fishing.  He said it was slow.  He didn’t get one bump.  Once we got the boat in the water I looked at the temperature gauge and found out why.  The water was 49 degrees. We ran up river about 2 miles to a flat that is around 5 to 8 feet deep.  The water was clear and I could see the bottom.  Stumps and grass beds were clearly visible.  I started casting my 7 weight with a black Wooly Bugger tied on.  At that point the water temperature was 45 degrees.  I didn’t expect much but kept on casting.  Paula was reading a book.  We knew fishing was going to be slow. 

Finally a fish grabbed my fly.  It didn’t feel like much of a fish.  It turned out to be a largemouth and based on the fight he put up, it was larger than I expected, about a pound to a pound and a half.  My experience is, based on the fight, largemouth turn out to be larger than I think.  On the other hand, smallmouth bass always turn out to be smaller than I think.  We drove to a small cove with a creek entering the water.  We’ve done well there plenty of times.  After making a few casts I noticed three heads poking out of the water.  They were otters.  When otters are around the fish don’t bite or that has been my experience. 

Then we moved to one of our favorite banks.  I’ve caught smallmouth bass there, plenty of them and good fish up to five pounds.  We watched a mink hopping along the bank and plunging in the water at times.  A mink is a beautiful animal.

After a few casts with the black weighted Wooly Bugger it hit and I set the hook.  I had on the largest smallmouth bass I have ever hooked.  He had my 7 weight bent double.  I quickly got my line on the reel and was ready to do battle.  Though I hooked him in 6 feet of water, I had 20 feet of clear water below the boat.  So, chances were good I’d get this fish in.  He ran around the stern and the hook came out of his mouth. 

I examined the hook.  The point was dull.  I bet a small part of the point broke off, maybe on the bass I caught earlier or maybe on this one.  I had not hung up on a rock since I tied it on.  The fly had never been used until that morning.  Now, I tie Wooly Buggers on the sharpest hook I know of, a Tiemco 777 SP.  The “SP” stands for super point.  I was super disappointed.  Since the bass were in deeper water I tied on a black Slump Buster.  After many casts I managed to land 2 average smallmouth bass (1.5 pounds) and lost another one.  By early afternoon the wind started blowing and we just cruised around the lake.  It was a beautiful day and we had a great time.  Today I’m tired from casting a 7 weight continuously for hours with heavy flies.  The Slumpbusters I tie have a rather large tungsten cone head.  They get down.  They are not much fun to cast.

So, in the lakes you will probably find the smallmouth in deeper water, 6 feet deep or more.  I guess it is a little early for the really good fishing.  After all this is March.  But, you can catch them if you get your flies down.  Also, check your hook often.  You might lose the fish of a lifetime if you don’t.

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

Byron Begley
March 19, 2011

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Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:

Saturday March 26 – Beginner Day One
Saturday April 9 – Beginner Day One
Saturday April 30 – Beginner Day One
Sunday May 1 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday May 7 – Beginner Day One
Saturday May 21 – Beginner Day One
Sunday May 22 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday June 11 – Beginner Day One
Saturday June 25 – Beginner Day One
Sunday June 26 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday July 9 – Beginner Day One
Saturday July 23 – Beginner Day One
Sunday July 24 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday September 10 – Beginner Day One
Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

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