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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 40 degrees in Townsend this morning.  A huge line of thunderstorms pounded the Ohio Valley yesterday.  Thankfully, it practically missed us.  We did get a little over 1” of rain at the shop.  The Knoxville Airport reported .90”. 

Little River is flowing fairly strong this morning at 575 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 373 cfs.  The water temperature is 50 degrees.

Today will be sunny and 55 degrees.  Tomorrow will be about the same temperature but it will be windy of course since it is my only day off this week.  Later this week it is going to be cold at night, in the 20’s both Wednesday and Thursday.  There is even a slight chance for snow Thursday night and Friday.

I know some of you are trying to make fishing trip decisions.  We had perfect conditions last weekend but many anglers were disappointed in the fishing.  They were hoping for big hatches and lots of dry fly action.  Those who did well fished nymphs.  Bill worked yesterday and told me he fished on the Middle Prong of the Little River on Saturday.  He did well but said most of the trout were small.  Bill was using a dry fly with a wet fly dropper.  That can be a deadly combination when the Spring hatches are about to start.  He said about 2/3 of the trout he caught were on the dropper.

Most people don’t fish wet flies.  They use dry flies and nymphs.  An old traditional wet fly catches plenty of trout for those who use them.  You can let the fly swing and it resembles a soon to be adult, rising to the surface to shed the nymph skin.  It worked for Bill. 

Jack came by yesterday afternoon and stayed a while.  We discussed the current fishing conditions.  He thinks the Quill Gordon hatch will happen very soon.  He repeated what I’ve always heard from him and Walter. When the water temperature reaches and sustains 50 degrees, they hatch.  And, when they start hatching, they keep hatching no matter how cold it gets.  The water temperature has reached and sustained 50 degrees or better in the low elevations.  It has not done so higher up.  I heard about temperature readings above Elkmont this weekend in the high 40’s.

The water temperature is going to drop below 50 degrees this week in the low elevations. 

The lesson learned this weekend is, when conditions are borderline in the Spring, use nymphs or wet flies unless you see a hatch and trout rising to the adults.  Fishing with sub-surface flies was good this weekend.  For the most part, fishing with dry flies was not.

We have had two wildfires in Wears Valley in one week.  The first fire burned over 100 acres but did not destroy any homes.  The fire that started Sunday afternoon, closer to Pigeon Forge was a different story.  This fire scorched around 160 acres and destroyed or damaged 59 cabins and large homes.  300 firefighters and emergency responders were on the scene.  Yesterday afternoon, the thunderstorms dropped 1” of rain on the site and the fire was about out after that.  You can read the article on the KnoxNews website by CLICKING HERE.  We have had a lot of wind lately and that caused the fires to spread.  The actual cause of the fires is unknown. 

I’m tying Spring smallmouth bass flies for me, Jack and Paula every night.  Right now I’m working on black Wooly Buggers tied on a Gamakatsu jig hook.  The fly is weighted and designed to suspend horizontal under a strike indicator.  This is just some crazy idea I had for fishing rock drop offs near shore.  We’ll see how that works out.

I tied about 2 dozen Kent’s Stealth Bombers with short deer hair tails, solid black rubber legs and used the foam cutter designed for that particular fly.  These flies, like all of our Spring smallmouth flies have absolutely no flash except for the wing and that is there so we can see the flies on the water. We think Krystal Flash and other light reflecting materials don’t work as well in the clear water we fish.  We’ve seen smallmouth bass refuse a flashy fly but take a solid black fly.  

This weekend, three young men launched a canoe at the ramp I always use on Tellico Lake below Chilhowee Dam on the Little Tennesse River.  They were not wearing life jackets.  They tipped the canoe and one of them drowned.  It made me sick to read that story.

The water is always very cold and there is often current when they are generating at the dam.  All it takes to survive a dunking in these lakes is something simple, wearing a life jacket.  We always wear them when we fish there.  Even if you are wearing a life jacket, you would quickly become hypothermic but you would probably survive.  I talked to our Police Chief yesterday in the shop.  He fishes there often.  He said the same thing.  This is so sad.

Paula and I have the self-inflating type of life jackets.  When they are immersed in 4” of water they inflate due to the hydrostatic pressure.  I think they cost about $260 each.  We also have standard Coast Guard approved life jackets on the boat.  Most people don’t know this, if you are not wearing an inflatable personal floatation device, it is not considered one. 

Only non-inflatable life jackets are legal if not worn.  So, if you take your inflatable off and don’t have a non-inflatable in the boat, you are in violation of the law.  Additionally, you must also have a throwable life saving device on most boats, ours being one of them.  Boat size dictates different rules.  We have floatation boat cushions to serve as throwable PFD’s.  You can check this out yourself online.  I found the rules on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency website. 

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

Byron Begley
March 19, 2013 

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