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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is clear and 32 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I can see the mountains in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in vivid detail.  The views this morning are spectacular.

The rivers and streams in the Park are still running high.  Little River is flowing at 875 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 352 cfs.  The water seems to be dropping slowly, mainly because the water was rising yesterday until about noon.  The water temperature at 7:45 am is 45.7 degrees just below the Townsend “Y”.  Yesterday, the water temperature reached 49.5 degrees at its peak.

I know of one particular group of guys from Kentucky who are camping at #24 on the East Prong above Elkmont.  It is cold up there this morning and the water is gushing.  They will be there a few days and should have some excellent fishing before they leave.

It is going to be very warm this weekend and next week.  Expect high temperatures in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s during that period.  The water will warm and the trout will become very active.  Fishing is going to be great.  I don’t know if that will begin on Saturday but it might.  The chances are better on Sunday.  Next week from Monday through Friday looks awesome.  We do have a 60% chance for rain on Thursday, which is something we don’t need.  I hope that doesn’t happen.  What is coming is what we’ve been waiting for all year.  I hope nothing messes that up.

Dry fly action will be at it’s best so far this year when the water recedes and warms.  Depending on what elevation you are fishing, hatches will be varied.  You could see about any normal Spring mayfly, stonefly or caddis.  Unless you see a major hatch, just a plain old Parachute Adams will probably work in sizes #14 or #16.  During a large hatch the trout may become selective and picky.  Terrestrials may be a factor too.  I know it seems too early for that but when the earth warms, the bugs will be crawling around on land.  They will also be falling in the water.

If the rain does not blow out or cause the lowland rivers to be muddy, smallmouth bass will become active too.  That has already happened once this year.  It will happen again next week, depending on the water levels.  If you are a warmwater angler, be ready for that and take advantage of it.

The lakes will be warming too.  This is just getting better.  You may find smallmouth bass is shallow water depending on which lake you are fishing and where on the lake you are.  I can’t wait.  I’m tying flies every night.

I have a new pattern that I’m calling a Flathead.  It looks like a Knucklehead with less foam layers in the head section.  It does have the mono eyes like the Knucklehead.  The fly seems to float well.  I’ve been throwing them into the kitchen sink.  I wondered if those mono eyes would pull the head under with the less amount of buoyant foam.  So, this morning I filled up a small cup with water and threw in some mono eyes.  They float!  I would not have imagined that.  Mono leaders and tippet sink slowly, we know that.  I covered the little cup with my hand and shook the water and eyes vigorously.  The eyes popped back to the surface.  Now the cup has one pair of olive and a pair of black eyes floating on the water.  I’m leaving them all day to see what happens. They say monofilament absorbs water.  We’ll see if those eyes do that.

When this fly hits the water, trout, bass and bluegill will notice the light landing.  It just won’t hit hard and make much noise.  This fly is designed for lakes and ponds, still water with no riffles.  I think it’s going to be killer.  They will be tested before they will be sold.

Two different wildlife biologists were in the shop yesterday.  One was from Kentucky and the other from Ohio.  They were not together and don’t know one another.  One fellow works for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The other is retired from the Ohio agency.  Of course, we talked about wildlife.  We talked about bald eagles, bobcats, elk, deer, wild turkeys and about every critter you can thank of. 

These guys are both old enough, like me, to remember the days when wildlife was in decline and in some cases near extinction due to over-harvesting, habitat degradation and environmental influences.  In my lifetime, many of those problems were solved.  Remember DDT?  I remember when they figured out what it did to the egg shells of wild birds, including raptors like the bald eagle.  We got rid of DDT, did some hacking and now we have bald eagles again.  Wild turkeys run around at our house like chickens on the farm.  I never saw one when I was a kid.  I did have some turkey calls just in case.

Life is better now for an old kid like me.  I see things in nature I could never have imagined 50 years ago and I’m glad.  And now, we have wild Southern Appalachian Brook Trout sipping our flies off the surface of a beautiful stream just a few miles from here.  Hudda thunkit?

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

Byron Begley
April 2, 2013

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