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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is dark outside because it is early and the temperature is 62 degrees.  A weather website indicates cloudy skies.  This is my day off and I’m home.  Paula and I plan to fish this afternoon on one of the lakes nearby.

Little River is still flowing strong but getting closer to normal.  At 6:12 am the flow is 357 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 271 cfs.  The water temperature right now is 58.7 degrees below the confluence of the three prongs of the Little River.  That is perfect for trout.  Around here, the water comes out of the ground in springs at a temperature of 58 degrees. 

I talked to one angler last night when I was preparing to hook up our boat to bring home.  He fished all day on the West and Middle Prongs.  He said the fishing was slow.  He caught a couple of trout and that was it.  He was using nymphs and did not try dry flies.  He did say “there was a lot of water up there.”

I can’t understand why the fishing is not excellent.  Maybe the trout have not become accustomed to perfect conditions.  Maybe it is the higher than normal water.  Some fly fishers are doing well at certain times but not overall.  The early Spring hatches are over in the lower elevations.  Right now we have March Browns, caddis and stoneflies on the water down here. 

I would use a Parachute Adams in a size #14 or #16.  I might use a attractor, maybe a Stimulator with a Bead Head Pheasant Tail as a dropper.  A March Brown would be a good choice. If that didn’t work I would go deep with a nymph.  The trout are there in good numbers, everywhere in the Park.

Clay Aalders sent me a photo of a rainbow he caught above the Sinks last week.  It appeared to be 14” long.  The fish was laying next to his fly rod in the photo.  It looked longer than that to me.  That is large for a wild rainbow in the Smokies.  The brown trout get bigger but rainbows seldom exceed the length of the trout he caught.  Rainbows only live about 3 years in the Smokies.  Sampling by Park biologists have proven that.  A 15 inch wild rainbow is a monster.

There are fishermen all over Little River in town.  I saw several people fishing when I went to the bank yesterday.  Most are using bait and spinners.  Little River in town is stocked with hatchery trout. Fly fishing is very effective in town.  Most fly fishermen go to the Smokies to catch the wild trout.

Smallmouth bass fishing is also very good in town and even better downstream.  The conditions are perfect for smallies. 

It is going to be hot today and tomorrow, in the low 80’s.  Paula and I may encounter some thunderstorms on the lake this afternoon and evening.  We’ll probably fish close to the ramp for a quick escape if needed.  Cooler temperatures will arrive on Friday.  We’ll see highs in the 60’s and 70’s.  Lows at night will be in the 40’s.  That trend will last for a few days.  That is typical in April.

A student at the University of Tennessee contacted me by e-mail yesterday.  He is from Colorado.  His question was, do we use droppers here?  He has been doing it and not having much luck.  I don’t think that is his fault.  A lot of anglers use two flies in the Smokies.  Most common is to drop a nymph off a dry fly.  Some good anglers use two nymphs.  Others use two wet flies. 

My buddy Jack was fishing during the Fall a few years ago for post spawn brown trout using two nymphs.  He hooked a brown that turned out to be 28” long.  That was a Smokies record for him back then.  He has since caught larger browns in Little River.  While he was fighting that fish, a smaller brown trout, about 20” long kept trying to grab his other fly.  Had he hooked the other brown, both would have broken off unless they were synchronized swimmers.  He had to flip the other fly away from the smaller trout every time it tried to eat his dropper.  The smaller brown finally gave up and Jack landed the larger fish. 

Two flies double your chances.

Paula and I hope to find out if the smallmouth bass have moved into shallow water in the lakes.  I have no idea what the water temperature is and the smallmouth movement is dependent upon that.  I don’t even know where we are going at this point.  I’ll check the generation schedules and pick a lake.  We will be on the Little Tennessee River.  Fishing is probably better on Fort Loudoun, Cherokee, Watts Bar or Douglas.  I bet the water is warmer at those lakes.  The Little Tennessee is closer so we’ll go there.  I have some new fly patterns I want to try.  If the fishing is slow I’ll still get to see what those flies look like in the crystal clear water.  I’m also going to try a weighted Wooly Bugger on a strike indicator, something I’ve never done.

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

Byron Begley
April 17, 2013

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