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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is overcast and 68 degrees this morning.  The lower elevation mountains are green today.  Spring is creeping up to higher elevations.  Hoards of people were in town yesterday, to enjoy the coming of the season.  What they saw was incredible.  We can still see the mountains from our house.  Soon, they will be obscured, by leafy trees.

Little River is in perfect condition.  Flow is 303 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.12 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 276 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 58.8 degrees.  Yesterday, the temperature peaked at 62 degrees.

Fly fishing in the Smokies and just about everywhere around us is very good.  The mountain streams, lowland rivers and tailwaters have come alive with fish and aquatic insect activity.

Hatches of various mayflies, caddis and stoneflies are on the mountain streams.  Matching the hatch is not as important now that the bug species on the water are so plentiful.  The trout are seeking food.  Getting a good drift and not spooking the trout is very important, more so than the fly pattern you choose. 

The great weather is going to decline.  We are expecting rain and thunderstorms today and tomorrow.  The National Weather Service is reporting a chance for locally heavy rainfall late today and tonight with a chance for localized flooding.  

It is going to be very cold too.  We may see snow in the mountains tonight.  Tomorrow night’s low will most likely be in the 20’s.  Conditions will improve beginning Thursday after a cold Wednesday night.  The weekend looks good again.  Easter Sunday should be partly cloudy and 72 degrees.

Localized flooding doesn’t sound good.  I hope that is not the case.

We have, in many streams, young brown and brook trout.  They spawned last Fall.  Two conditions cause widespread mortality in fish populations in the Smokies, floods and drought.  Well, we certainly do not have drought conditions and haven’t for years.  But, we have had a series of high water events during the Winter and early Spring lately, particularly last year. 

As a result, we lost many young trout.  Sometimes the redds or nests have been scoured out before the fry are born.  And, when they are very young, high water can wash them away.  We had some high water this Winter but nobody knows now, what affect that had on the young of the year trout.

That is what happened to the young brook trout in Lynn Camp Prong.  Lynn Camp is the largest native brook trout restoration project conducted by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Last year, biologists and volunteers sampled the populations in this stream, which is currently closed and waiting to be re-opened once the trout numbers are sustainable.  We were all hoping for good news last Summer but it didn’t happen.  Biologists will sample Lynn Camp Prong again this Summer. 

If the population numbers look good, the stream could be re-opened to fishing.  If not, we may have to wait another year.  Matt Kulp, the Fisheries Biologist at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and I talked about it this weekend.  Like me, and you, he is hoping for good news.  He wants the stream open to fishing as much as we do. 

We will have, at some point, 8 or more miles of mid-elevation brook trout water with easy access when Lynn Camp Prong opens. 

There was discussion at one point, about placing temporary regulations when it opens, requiring catch and release fishing to allow the population to grow.  Then, in the future, harvest would be allowed. 

I remember hearing from the biologists the number 2,500 fish per mile in that stream and I believe it.  That was supposedly the high end of the rainbow population in the stream at one time.  I could be wrong about that number but I’m pretty sure it is correct.  I would imagine, in many years, that number would be lower.  That’s a lot of fish in a small stream.  Lynn Camp is not too small, but much smaller than the lower East Prong of Little River.  Lynn Camp Prong is a tributary to the Middle Prong of the Little River.

This stream has been closed for several years.  We have customers who have never fished there.  When it was open, it was my favorite stream.  On a good day you could catch 50 trout if you tried.  Some people have reported 100 trout days there.  The water chemistry, depth and food base make for an awesome trout stream, one of the best in the Smokies.

I hope Matt and his crew see some good population numbers this Summer.  As usual, everything in our sport is weather dependent.

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

Byron Begley
April 14, 2014

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