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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is foggy and 54 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was very light on my morning commute. I came in earlier than normal, 7:15 am.  There is a lot of work to be done today.

I drove by Little River on my way here.  The river is rolling and a little off color.  We got 1.10 inches of rain yesterday and 1.25 inches on Saturday.  We were lucky here.  Maryville/Alcoa got 2.42 inches yesterday, which was a record for that day.  The prior record of 1.90 inches was set in 1874. 

Little River is flowing at 3.68 feet on the gauge or 1,130 cubic feet per second (cfs).  The river peaked last night around midnight at 4.2 feet and approximately 1,500 cfs.  Median flow for this date is 244 cfs. The water temperature is 52.5 degrees this morning.

Wading will be dangerous today in the Smokies.  You might find some small streams somewhere that are not blown out.  We usually send customers to Anthony Creek at the Cades Cove Picnic Area when the water is high.  That area is full of small rainbow trout.  Once you walk further up the trail and stream, fishing is very difficult due to the small size of the stream and vegetation.  Fish in the picnic area.

Looking ahead this week there is a slight chance for rain every day.  We won’t see anything significant.  It is going to be warm with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s all week.  Fishing will get much better after this water recedes.

Most of the dams in the area will be generating or sluicing, as TVA tries to lower the lakes, by controlling the water flowing into them.  It looks like there may be some wade fishing opportunities on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam today.  Douglas Dam will be turning on and off today at times.  Check with TVA before you go.  The large dams on the Tennessee River are running full bore.

Lowland River fishing for smallmouth bass on Little River and the Little Pigeon are pretty much out of the question at this point. I know Little River is muddy and high downstream.  The Little Pigeon is flowing very high.  It is probably muddy too.

With rainfall this year exceeding average by over 50%, our aquifer is in great shape.  This will turn out to be an excellent fishing year.  Good fishing is just starting late.  The waters will warm this week.  Fishing is going to be great when that happens and the water levels recede.  The 10-day forecast looks awesome.

May is probably the best month to fish in our area.  It is my favorite.  We don’t seem to have as many huge rain events in May, so planning a fishing trip here in that month is common.  May is our best business month at the shop. It always has been.  You can count on one thing this year unless something really strange happens, we’ll have plenty of water.

The Park Service Fisheries Department will begin population sampling soon to determine the health of trout populations in the streams.  One of the most important sampling events to me will be Lynn Camp Prong.  Lynn Camp is a beautiful tributary to the Middle Prong of the Little River.  Above the cascade, biologists and volunteers removed the rainbow population and replaced those fish with Southern Appalachian brook trout.  The stream has been closed to fishing. 

Sampling data will determine if the stream will be re-opened to fishing this year.  If there are enough brook trout and it is apparent the population is self sustaining, then success will be officially declared and the Park will let us anxious anglers in to fish.  I’ll be there opening day, probably after work.  On that day we will be very busy here.  I hope that happens this year.  I think it will.  When I find out, I’ll let you know.  Steve promised to call me as soon as the decision is made.

We have a great Fisheries Department in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Steve Moore and Matt Kulp have done a super job.  They have adhered to their goals. They determined that fishermen don’t effect the fish populations in a negative way, and they have opened many previously closed brook trout streams to fishing.  They have made decisions based entirely on data and science.

We are faced with some environmental problems.  Acid deposition is still an issue.  Older trees don’t absorb nitrates as well as young trees.  These trees are getting older.  75 years ago the trees were young after the logging era.  I think the air quality has improved though.  That’s what I hear.

If the hemlock trees go away that would have some effect on our streams and most certainly on the environment as a whole.  Hopefully that won’t happen.

We have had record high temperatures lately and droughts.  That has not been the case this year.  Maybe that cycle is over for a while.

Threatened and endangered fish have been successfully re-introduced into Abrams Creek.  Some species were thought to be extinct at one time after Abrams Creek was poisoned to make for a better trout fishery.  Scientists found those fish in another stream nearby, grew them in tanks and they are gradually bringing those fish back.  The fish are darters and madtoms.

Other than acid deposition, water quality in the Smoky Mountains is as good as it gets.  Little River is a perfect example.  It is one of the most beautiful rivers I have seen and the water is mostly pure as it leaves the Park.  Agencies and local organizations are working hard to make sure the river remains pristine all the way to the Tennessee River.  Much progress has been made.  People who live in our County understand the importance of this river to our life.  Our governments understand that and rank water quality in the river a high priority.  We all do.  Generations from now, those people will appreciate what we have done.

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

Byron Begley
April 29, 2013


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