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

Welcome to the Fly Fishing Report.  It is overcast, foggy and very comfortable outside this morning in East Tennessee.  Everything is dripping wet due to the rain we had yesterday afternoon and last night.  A wild turkey hen ran in front of me on the way out of our private road.  Then she flew.  That is rare.  Usually the turkeys barely get out of the way when I drive by in the mornings.  They just stand there and look at me.  This morning is different.  Today is opening day of turkey season in Tennessee.  They know it.

The geese at the swinging bridge were as friendly as ever.  They were actively being geese, honking, flying and swimming.  They are paired.  I hardly ever see one alone this time of year. 

Little River is up a little from yesterday morning.  Where I stood it was up about an inch.  Flow is 425 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 330 cfs.  The water temperature was 58 degrees at 7:55 am.

Fishing in the Smokies is good but not excellent as of yesterday.  I talked to Josh after he returned from a guided trip with some clients.  He said the trout were taking dry flies sporadically before they got drenched with rain and hail.  The front that moved in yesterday probably slowed down the fishing.  We will have some clear and warm weather in the forecast for three days.  That should get things going again.

In the Smoky MountainsI would use nymphs in the mornings or drop a nymph off a dry fly.  Then, switch to dry flies in the afternoon. You never know for sure.  The trout may be taking dries in the morning today.  A Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis or Stimulator would be a good start for the dry flies.  Any normal nymph will work.  Try a Tellico, Bead Head Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear.  You will catch trout this weekend.  Fishing may be excellent.  The conditions are perfect.  Water is on the high side but that is good.  Go fishing.

Smallmouth bass fishing in the rivers and lakes is definitely picking up.  Smallies are moving into shallow water preparing to spawn.  I heard from two top-notch smallmouth anglers yesterday.  Smallmouth fishing is not close to excellent but they are biting and fly fishermen are catching some.  Top water flies are working OK but your best bet is streamers.

Right now, TVA is planning to keep the turbines off and on at Norris Dam today.  You might squeeze in some wade fishing between pulses. It is about the same on the Holston.  Cherokee Dam will be pulsing one generator for an hour, three times today.  There won’t be much generation at South Holston Dam today.  Apalachia Dam is pulsing too for an hour three times during the day.  Center Hill Dam will be churning water beginning at 11:00 am until dark.  The generation schedule looks about the same as Center Hill today at Dale Hollow.  By the way, Dale Hollow Lake is near full pool. It looks like Wilbur will be off until 7:00 pm.  Check before you go.  These schedules change and you may find unexpected flows.

The lakes are warming up.  The water levels are still below full pool for the most part.  You can see the lake level information at the bottom left of this page.  It was updated this morning.  I do it every morning.  We have 7 major lakes right around here and several other smaller impoundments.  Paula and I are going to pick one and go fishing Monday.  I would imagine the smallmouth bass will be in the shallows until the sun is bright on the water.  Then they will move deeper.  We will most likely catch the bass on streamers but we’ll try some top water too.  When the sun is high, we’ll fish small weighted bluegill flies for bream and shellcrackers.  It has been reported that the shellcrackers are spawning already on Kentucky Lake.  They will be doing that early here too.  We usually find them on the beds in early May.  I’m thinking they will be bedding in mid April or before.  We’ll find out when that happens.

I love catching bluegill and shellcrackers on a fly rod.  I keep an old Scott fiberglass 4 weight in the boat just for that purpose.  An 8” shellcracker bends that rod double.  I can’t cast very far with it.  The length is 7’ 9” and it is slow.  But when you get a fish on, it is fun.

I was packing my new Fishpond Cloudburst Boat Bag last night.  This thing has so many features I could not describe then all here.  But, two things I really like are the gunnel hooks and the fold down fly bench.  I can hang the bag next to me in the boat.  No more bending over to my box on the boat’s floor.  And, I can pick out what I’m going to fish with and put those flies on the fold down fly bench.  When I change flies the wet one goes back on the bench so it won’t get lost.  I just have to remember to remove them when I get home to dry them out.  The inside of the bag has several boxes of backup flies. 

You have lots of fishing opportunities as described above.  Right now you can catch rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, stripers, bluegill, shellcrackers, carp and who knows what all.  Some of our lakes have most of those species available to the fly angler.  The one exception is brook trout. 

East Tennessee and Western North Carolina were designed for the angler.  That’s why I live here.  That is the reason I moved here.  I can’t think of a better reason to be someplace.

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

Byron Begley
March 31, 2012

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