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 chilly out there!  The sun is shining and the temperature is 34 degrees.  I noticed a little frost on my boat.  By the time I got here at 8:00 am, there was no frost on the ground or on rooftops. 

The trout and bass in Little River noticed the cooler temperatures too.  The water temp was 49.5 degrees this morning.  It barely made it to 53 degrees yesterday afternoon.  Flow is good.  Currently the calculated flow is 370 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 321 cfs.  We are back to normal.  There is no rain in the forecast for the next few days.  The water levels will continue to drop.

I thought fishing would be slow yesterday but it wasn’t.  I talked to some anglers who did very well.  One guy went into the backcountry and caught over 40 trout, all on dry flies.  He said the water temperature was in the low 40’s there.  I think his thermometer might need to be calibrated or replaced.  Maybe I’m wrong. Other anglers reported slower fishing.  And one of them is an excellent angler.  Good or bad fishing is often perception.  Catching 40 trout in 5 hours is good by anyone’s standards.  To some people, catching 10 is a slow day.  To others, catching 2 is a good day. 

I tell people new to the sport and this area about my struggles early on to catch trout on a fly in the Smokies.  Thirty years ago, there was nobody around to help me. There was not a fly shop in Townsend.  Robert from Kentucky and I were talking about that yesterday.  He struggled at first too.  We all did.  These trout are wild and the water is clear. The currents are tricky.  Wading is tricky.  Success is achieved by those who learn to hide from the fish and get a good drift. Keep that fly moving with the current.  That usually means casting short.   

Trout are taking dries so be ready for that.  I would expect better nymph fishing early in the day.  Then switch to dry flies later.  I think a Parachute Adams, Yellow Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis or Yellow Neversink Caddis is what I would use.  For a nymph I would choose a Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Tellico or Prince.

We are going to have a nice weekend here and the water will warm back up.  The fishing will improve too.

Downstream in the smallmouth waters of our rivers that exit the Park, the water temperature is affecting the fish too.  We had smallmouth bass taking topwater poppers just a few days ago.  I think they are probably more sluggish and looking for food closer to the bottom.  That will change soon too. 

I looked at a wholesale fly tying catalog this morning from Spirit River.  They sell mono eyes in several hard to find colors like yellow and chartreuse.  And they sell them by the 1,000 packs.  So I’m going to order several thousand today.  Why?  I am tying these Knuckleheads to sell.  In fact, we have them in stock now.  The colors are black and chartreuse.  I tied them this winter.  Now that I know how well they work, I will be tying a ton of them.

I swore I would never tie flies to sell.  I did that for years and got tired of it.  Things are different now. 

First, I’ve got a pattern that works very well for most species.  It is called a Knucklehead.  I have not tried them in trout streams yet but I will.  Second, I love tying flies.  I like to tie for an hour or so at night.  Third, I have more flies than I will ever use in my lifetime. 

I also enjoy hearing from anglers who buy the flies I tie.  They work or I would not tie them.  The feedback is always good.  Also, I take the time to glue the tie in points so the things don’t fall apart after a few fish are caught on them.  Jack said he caught 100 smallmouth bass on one fly that I tied.  I saw him catch those fish in two days.  We were in my boat.  I take pride in that.

I am looking forward to going fishing next week by myself in the boat again.  I did that last week for the first time.  The boat is so light and all the weight is in the back, when I opened her up I thought the bow was going to flip backward leaving the boat on top of me and upside down on the water.  It did finally plane off and the light bow was so squirrely it was a little scary driving down the lake wide open.

To solve the problem I ordered an Attwood battery operated pump called the Water Buster.  It came yesterday.  I also ordered five 5-gallon Coleman collapsible water vessels.  In six minutes I can pump 200 pounds of water from the lake into those soft sided containers and put them in the bow.  I also ordered a new 6 gallon gas tank with a 12 foot hose.  That will but the tank closer to the front.  Now, the boat will plane quickly and handle well when I am alone.  When I get back to the ramp, I’ll empty the water back into the lake.  When someone else is with me I won’t need the ballast.  I can’t wait to try this.

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

Byron Begley
April 11, 2012

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