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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 54 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The wild turkeys were out and about earlier.  Their dating game seems to be running late this year.  Everything in nature is running late.

Little River’s level is falling like the Dow did yesterday.  Well, not quite that fast.  Flow at 7:30 am is 383 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 281 cfs.  That is a little high, 2.46 feet on the gauge.  It is not too high to fish in the Park.  Many people prefer this level.

The water temperature in Little River at the confluence of the three prongs is 56 degrees this morning.  That number has been bouncing around between 50 and 60 degrees since April 10th.  You will find the water to be a 3 or 4 degrees cooler higher on the Middle Prong or on the East Prong above Metcalf Bottoms.  We’ll see the water temperature on the high end over the next three days.  Fishing should be very good.  Conditions will be perfect.

Fishing is good but not excellent.  It may have been excellent yesterday.  I have not heard from any fishermen since I got back from the hunting trip to Kentucky.  I’ll know tomorrow because I’m going fishing. 

Most anglers who are fly fishing in the Smokies are reporting decent catches using nymphs and dry flies.  What you should use varies throughout the day.  Sometimes the trout are looking up.  Sometimes they are not.  Be prepared with nymphs and dries.

Good nymphs to use would be a Pheasant Tail or Tellico.  A good dry fly selection right now would include a Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis or March Brown.  Nobody is talking about huge hatches in the lower elevations right now. Maybe they are happening.  My friends are not seeing them.  You may find some early Spring hatches in the higher elevations.

The lowland rivers are flowing strong.  The water is clear from what I’ve seen.  I may wait to fish lower Little River until later this week.  I think Paula and I will fish a lake tomorrow to see what the smallmouth bass are doing.

We are going to have some nice weather this week.  Expect highs around 80 degrees today through Thursday.  Lows will be in the high 50’s to low 60’s.  We are not expecting rain until Friday.

Newfound Gap Road is open according to Daniel.  That huge rock slide was repaired quickly.  That will make it easier for us to fish at Smokemont, Oconaluftee, the trophy waters in Cherokee and the Nantahala among other places.

Chris Camuto interviewed me yesterday.  This was the second time in 10 years. He is writing a story about Steve Moore, the head fisheries biologist at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The article will appear in Trout Magazine.  Steve came in with Chris yesterday then left the two of us alone for the interview.

The story will focus on Steve but includes the 20 year relationship with the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and other TU Chapters and organizations.  His foray into building relationships with user groups began with the Little River Chapter.  We were the first TU group to work with a National Park in the United States.

These relationships have been successful in raising over $2 Million.  I think I’ve got that number right.  That was done through leveraging.  When you donate money and volunteer hours to the Fisheries Department, they can use that to obtain matching funds from other grants.  That is what Steve did.

As a result, he and Matt Kulp who is the other biologist in the Park have been able to re-establish historical Southern Appalachian brook trout streams to the pure strain. 

While Steve was here I asked him the big question.  “When will Lynn Camp Prong re-open?”  His answer was, “We’ll find out this Summer”.  What he meant is, he won’t know until his crew does the population sampling.  By electroshocking the same locations again as they have done for years, they will know the condition of the brook trout population and compare that to the data of the rainbow population before they were removed and replaced with brook trout.  When Steve and Matt think the brook trout population is self-sustainable, they will open the stream to fishing.  It may be catch and release for a while.

I am hoping that will happen this year.  Steve assured me I would be on his contact list when the decision is made.  When I know it, you will know it. I’ll be there opening day.

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

Byron Begley
April 16, 2013

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