Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  What a great weekend we had in the Smoky Mountains!  It was beautiful.  Though the temperatures were warm and the humidity seemed to be low.  The high yesterday was 80 degrees.  Today we should reach around 83 degrees.  This nice weather will persist in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina.  I noticed more green trees and flowering flora on my way to work today.  I know it’s early but Spring is here as far as Mother Nature is concerned.  Not much change is expected over the next 10 days.   

We got a lot of rain last week and the streams here are high.  It was odd though, in the Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina side, the rain was not nearly as heavy.  The streams were more fishable on that side of the Park.

This morning the flow in Little River is 670 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 371 cfs.  The water temperature was 55 degrees again this morning at 8:05 am. 

Oconaluftee River is flowing right at normal.  Cataloochee is a little above normal.  The Davidson River is flowing below normal.  So, as you can see, Western North Carolina did not get the rain that we did here.  Tellico River is dropping and will be close to normal soon.

If you fish in the Park today you might do well with dry flies again.  Nymphs will work for sure.  Though the water is still high you can pick your spots.  We sent a some people towards Cades Cove this weekend to fish Laurel Creek and Anthony Creek.  They can be fishable when other streams are blow out.  Patterns I would use are:  Prince Nymph, Tellico Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Copper John, Parachute Adams, Quill Gordon and Blue Quill  (higher elevations), Elk Hair Caddis or a Stimulator.  I never change do I? 

Down in the lower streams the Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout will be very active, especially in the afternoons.  Higher elevation streams where you will find the Brook Trout the water will be chilly early but fishing will pick up later after the sun has warmed the water. 

Checking the TVA website and the tailwaters in East Tennessee, it looks like the Clinch River will be swollen by generation all day.  The Holston below Cherokee Dam will be up and down.  TVA indicates they will be generating there between 9:00 to 10:00 am then shut down until 3:00 pm.  South Holston Dam will generate between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm.  It looks like Wilbur Dam will not be generating until 8:00 pm tonight.  Appalachia Dam will be generating all day and night.  Please check with TVA before you go.  The links are to the left.  And remember, this information is subject to change.

Smallmouth bass fishing in the lowland rivers in East Tennesse and Western North Carolina is picking up.  The water temperature is driving that.  I think the Little Pigeon is flowing high like Little River.  I’m going on hearsay.  I don’t know for sure because they don’t have online reporting from a gauge station there.  Funding was cut.  USGS needs a partner.  I wish they would find one.

Everyone is talking about Ethan’s 4 pound smallmouth that he caught in Little River two or three days ago.  I didn’t see the picture but a lot of other people have.  They said the fish was fat. Wading in Little River downstream from Townsend where these smallmouth live will be tough today.  I looked at the spot where I took the water temperature this morning and I would not wade in there.  The water is just too high.  But, you could pick your spots and fish in the river but be careful.

Rangers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are searching for a young local man.  His truck is parked at Newfound Gap.  Rangers have already searched 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  You can read the story here on the KnoxNews Website.

I hope this turns out well.  I hope he is just lost and they will find him safe.

This brings up a thought though this might not be the case here.  Hiking off trail is a huge mistake.  I don’t know how many people have become lost in the Smokies during the last two decades since I have lived here.  It happens often.  If you step off the trail, unless you are following a stream  and fishing, you can easily get lost and disoriented.  You may be trying to go places that humans have not walked on in 100 years.  The forest off the trail is thick.  Hiking on a trail and trying to bushwhack are two completely different activities.  You can walk ten miles on trails and feel fine.  Trying to get through the dense forest for one mile will cause exhaustion. 

The streams and creeks on the other hand are different.  First, you can’t get lost as long as you stay on the stream.  And, fishermen have been walking along these riverbanks for a long time.  There are paths and ways to get around obstacles. The only fishermen I know personally who got lost tried to leave the Horseshoe on Abrams Creek before they reached the trail.  Many of those folks spent the night in the forest.  That happens more often than you think.

When someone is reported missing a lot of Park personnel are taken away from their normal jobs and assigned to search and rescue.  I was involved in one where a fisheries biologist and someone from the Smoky Mountains Institute were there to help. We got the guy out but he was dead.  I just happened to be on the trail going into the backcountry to fish and decided to help. 

So, stay on the trails and streams and you won’t get lost or if you do, someone will find you.  If you hike off trail, they may never find you.

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

Byron Begley
March 19, 2012

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