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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  I was backing away from the house this morning and a flock of wild turkeys were in our driveway.  I didn’t see them until my truck was about to run over the birds.  They got out of the way and I stopped to wait.  There were probably ten of them. 

The ginseng truck was parked in town this morning.  It is a panel truck and I guess it stops here for the day on a regular basis.  I imagine they have a route in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina where this root grows wild and sells for a lot of money per ounce.  The back door was open and I saw stacks of bushel baskets, stacked about 7 feet tall and secured to the interior walls.  Digging “sang” is illegal in the Park so don’t get any ideas.  I know people personally who have been caught doing that.  Breaking that law can cause you all kinds of problems.

Little River looks great this morning.  Finally the water has dropped to a reasonable level.  Flow is 633 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 361 cfs.  The water temperature in town was 56 degrees at 8:10 am.  That is the highest reading I have taken this year in the morning.  It will warm up more today.  The high is supposed to be 84 degrees.

Fishing is great.  I am hearing that from all the anglers I talk to except for the lake fishermen and that’s going to get better too.  The rivers on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are lower and more fisherman friendly.  The streams on the North Carolina side of the Park did not rise to the levels seen here last week. 

I think you can catch trout on just about any reasonable fly pattern right now.  The warming water is pumping up the trout’s metabolism.  They need food.  Down in the lower elevations where you will find rainbow trout and brown trout, the hatches may differ from the higher elevation brook trout water.  Hatches are varied.  Expect a wide variety of mayflies including March Browns, caddis and stoneflies.  I would use a Parachute Adams for a dry at first.  That pattern looks like a lot of different mayflies to a trout.  An Elk Hair Caddis is a good choice.  It could be viewed as a stonefly or caddis by the trout.  This is an excellent time to be fishing in the Smokies.  If we don’t get heavy rain this weekend, the fishing here will be prime.

Downstream rivers leaving the Park are also getting in great shape for smallmouth bass.  The lower water levels will make wading easier and safer.  Be careful though, the water is still high in East Tennessee on the free flowing streams.  The water temperature is getting just right for smallmouth bass.  They will be active for several days if the weather forecast holds true.

TVA is still generating around the clock at Norris Dam.  They say they will cut back to one generator today for a while.  Generation today looks to be sporadic but mostly off today at Cherokee Dam.  The generators at South Holston will be off most of the day according to the TVA forecast.  They will be generating at Center Hill all day.  Expect high flows on the Hiwassee all day too.  Those anglers fishing the Obey below Dale Hollow Dam will have a window of opportunity to wade fish until noon. And the Elk, one of my old haunts, will be off all day.  Please check with the TVA schedules before you go.  They may change.  And, TVA might decide to generate at any time, so be careful.

They are still looking for the lost hiker in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The search effort has grown to include not only rangers from the Park, but people, dogs and a helicopter from other areas have joined the team.  The hiker was reported missing on Sunday.  This man, who lives in our County is considered to be off the trail.  The trails have been searched and other hikers have been interviewed.  You can read the story on the Daily Times Website.

In the United States, this Winter was the 4th warmest on record according to the National Climatic Center. More than 2,200 warmest day records have been set in March alone around the Country. I don’t doubt that one bit.  We started seeing Spring hatches in early February, earlier than I can remember.  There is an interesting article in the New York Times about the effects of this on the flora and insects.  This is a editorial so it is a person’s opinion. I found this article very interesting.

We held our monthly Townsend Walland Business Alliance Meeting last night.  This is a new organization we are starting to deal with issues pertaining to tourism.  We don’t even have a board of directors yet.  And, I think we have only had four meetings.  Enthusiasm is high and talent is vast. 

Some business owners have brought to the attention of the membership, a change in signage in the Park and outside the Park that may cause confusion for visitors.  Maybe they are having a hard time finding Townsend.  Or, they get lost and start their vacation with a negative event at the beginning of their vacation.  OK, that is a valid concern.  I don’t know the extent of the problem but maybe there is one.  And attempts by individuals to get help have not gone very far except to the office of Congressman Jimmy Duncan.  That’s pretty far.

I took it upon myself to contact the Park directly, which evidently had not been done.  I was almost immediately contacted by Kevin Fitzgerald, the Assistant Superintendent.  He had just found out about this too, from Congressman Duncan’s office.  I happened to contact the Park about the same time.  This has been going on for months.

Kevin worked all weekend and took off yesterday but he volunteered to attend our Business Alliance meeting to discuss the issue.  Signs in the Park were updated almost a year ago in preparation for the 75th anniversary.  And, a sign at Sugarlands that pointed to Townsend was removed. 

We decided to form a sign committee and I will work directly with Kevin to determine the extent of the problem and hopefully a solution if one is indeed needed.  If I had known about this several months ago I would have called Kevin, Bob or Dale at that time.  I didn’t know anything about it.  And I would have called the Tennessee Department of Transportation about the issues outside the Park.  That’s why we need a Business Alliance. We can deal with issues directly without going through other channels.  This is going to be a lot of fun.  This will bring our business community closer together. 

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

Byron Begley
March 20, 2012

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