Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  What a beautiful morning in Townsend, Tennessee!  The sky is clear and the temperature was 58 degrees when I drove to work. There were quite a few people on the walking and biking trail earlier.  The visitors are here and tourism is good and growing again.  The latest February hotel/motel tax numbers were up from last year.  We won’t see March numbers for a while.  Tourism has been on the increase here since July of last year. 

I saw three trucks at the swinging bridge.  I talked to one fellow from Asheville, North Carolina.  He said he had caught one trout.  Another man was out in the river on the other side.  He just kept on fishing.

Flow is a little below average at 198 cubic feet per second.  Median flow for this date is 235 cfs.  Many people are surprised that our streams are not blown out like they are everywhere else in the South.  That is because those storms that blew through last week missed us.  There are some streams that are high in western North Carolina or so I’ve heard. 

Chilhowee Lake on the Little Tennessee River is closed. Evidently a tower holding up some massive power lines blew into the lake during the storm last week.  Thankfully Tellico Lake is open.  That lake is downstream and that is where Paula and I plan to fish all summer.  I have not fished hardly at all lately due to Troutfest and City business.  That will change in two weeks. 

The park is fishing excellent.  The conditions could not be better.  I like higher water but most folks consider what we have to be perfect.  The water temperature in town was 58 degrees this morning.  That is perfect for sure.  Anglers are reporting sporadic hatches of mayflies, stoneflies and caddis.  You will see plenty of Yellow Sally stones in the evenings.  I would use about any Yellow Sally imitation, small yellow Stimulator or a Parachute Adams in small sizes.  You might want to use 5X tippet.  The water is clear. 

Smallmouth Bass fishing in the rivers is excellent too.  Streamers and crawfish patterns will work.  Lower Little River and the Little Pigeon River are both fishing very well.  Bass fishing on the lakes is also excellent.  One of my buddies fished two days this week and caught the heck out of smallmouth bass.  They should be on the beds now in shallow water.  A streamer is probably your best choice.  I wish I were able to fish right now.  This is prime time.  After this Spring I am all but eliminating my volunteer work for a couple of years, maybe more.  I’ve done that before and boy does that get me on the water. Business gets better too when I not doing a lot of volunteer work.

We are stocking the store for Troutfest.  I have been frantically ordering fly tying materials.  It used to be that we did not sell fly tying materials during the late Spring and Summer or at least not much.  Now, it is a year-round department. Keeping that department stocked takes about three days of hard work per week.  After an ordering and stocking session of a couple of days I am physically exhausted.  Bending down and stretching up, touching thousands of items wears me down.  We stock way over 5,000 different items in the department.  And it brings anglers in. 

If we put the fly tying department on the online catalog our business would soar.  I’ve thought about doing it.  That would require a new full time person to accomplish that feat.  And, fly tying is a labor-intensive endeavor.  I have an order going to Wapsi by fax in a few minutes.  It contains 576 different items with many multiples of some of them.  Our last Wapsi order was stocked in the store on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.  We order, get it in, get it out then order again. 

Keeping Tiemco hooks stocked is another logistical problem.  We have 12 shipments that were pre-seasoned last Fall.  They have to be adjusted every month and re-submitted.  This month we’ll have two orders.  One will be a pre-season order at a 20% discount off wholesale.  The other will be a fill-in order priced at wholesale.  One order will get the Tiemco wall back to stock before Troutfest.  The scheduled order will be used to re-stock what we sell during Troutfest.  Of course there will be some hooks that we are out of.  That is because Umpqua, our importer is often out of certain hooks.

I remember the days when people opened fly shops thinking it would be fun and easy. A lot of those stores are gone. After 17 years I can still say it is fun.  But, I would never refer to this job as easy.  During my chain store ownership and management days I considered my job stressful.  With a staff of around 100 plus people and knowing all of them very well, I guess I had a load on my mind because I felt responsible for all of them.  I also had a lot of debt, equipment, buildings and tens of thousands of customers. 

There was often a serious event back then.  I’ve had plenty of armed robberies, break-ins, cars driving into stores, equipment failure, customers who did not pay, employees stealing, you name it, I’ve experienced it. When I was in my 20’s I had an employee murdered in one of the stores during an armed robbery. I started my career as a business owner at age 23.  I had to grow up quickly.  And I had to figure out how to be a boss to someone twice my age or older.  That required a team spirit and admitting I did not know it all because I didn’t and they all knew it.  I was always willing to do any job in the company. I thought about that the other day when I was cleaning a comode here at the shop. Somehow it all worked out.

Now just feel responsible for only about 12 very nice people.  We own only one building.  I stick my key in the door every morning to open.  Our computer tells me we only have a few thousand different and active customers (we track customers by name). These are all fly fishing customers who visit or log on to purchase.  The stress level is much lower.  That makes business more fun.  And all the folks who work here and all of our customers like to fly fish.  So, there is always something to talk about that we all enjoy.  I like what I do.  But, it’s still not easy.

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

Byron Begley
May 1, 2011

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Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:

Saturday March 26 – Beginner Day One
Saturday April 9 – Beginner Day One
Saturday April 30 – Beginner Day One
Sunday May 1 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday May 7 – Beginner Day One
Saturday May 21 – Beginner Day One
Sunday May 22 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday June 11 – Beginner Day One
Saturday June 25 – Beginner Day One
Sunday June 26 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday July 9 – Beginner Day One
Saturday July 23 – Beginner Day One
Sunday July 24 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday September 10 – Beginner Day One
Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

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