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 55 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I’m loving this weather. 

Little River is flowing at 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.6 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 264 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:01 am is 56 degrees below the confluence of the three prongs of Little River.  Yesterday, the water temperature peaked at 59 degrees which is in the preferred temperature range for trout. 

We should see about the same temperature today and the water levels will fall in the streams of the Great Smoky Mountains.  I was off yesterday and did not talk to any fishermen who spent time in the Park.  The trout are active and feeding.  Aquatic insects are hatching.  Fishing will certainly be best late in the day until dark.

You will see Light Cahills and Yellow Sally stoneflies on the water.  You will see other insects too.  Dry fly fishing is good, especially later in the day.  Nymphs will work and may be best earlier in the day.

Lower Little River and the Little Pigeon River looked fairly clear yesterday morning. Flow is good on both rivers, maybe high for some people who are wading, but perfect for boats, canoes and rafts.

TVA has been lowering the lakes and they are slightly higher than they should be this time of year.  This Winter, they were much higher than normal.  The agency is doing a lot of generation and sluicing to get those lake levels down.  This year, the Mississippi has been running very high and at flood stages lately.  Now, the Tennessee River is dumping water which ends up in the Mississippi as the high water recedes there. 

I’ve seen a lot of anglers fishing for trout in the stocked waters in Townsend.  Every time I go to the bank or run other errands in town, I always drive by the river. Fishermen are almost always there.

I work 6 days a week and yesterday was my day off.  Our boat has been in the shop, having the carburetor rebuilt.  I left home at 8:30 am and drove to Morristown to pick up the boat.  That is a 3 hour round trip.  The boat and motor are starting their 4th season.  The warranty on the motor which I bought new ran out last August.

Paula and I loaded all our gear into the truck and boat, then headed to the Little Tennessee River.  We chose a ramp and launched.  That motor is running better than it did when it was new.  The cost to rebuild the carb was $200, not much when amortized over 3 years.  I do all the other maintenance myself.

The water temperature was 57 degrees in most places we fished.  The smallmouth bass were not in shallow water.  I have one rod rigged with a weighted Wooly Bugger and a large foam strike indicator attached near the line/leader connection.  This is something new I’m trying.  The ideas is, cast into shallow water, then, as I strip the fly out over deeper water, I just let the fly sink.  That worked yesterday and I caught one very nice smallmouth bass.  I’m guessing she was 6 feet below the surface.  We were fighting wind and decided to drive into a creek to see if the shellcrackers were spawning.  In that creek the water temperature was 62 degrees.  I tried floating foam flies and a Carter’s Rubber Legged Dragon. I could see the usual spawning beds though the water was high.  Those fish were not there. We’ll try again next week. 

May is prime time for fishing in Tennessee.  This year, everything is running late but I believe the time is now and great fishing will begin. 

We have rain in the forecast and the chances are higher on Saturday night at this point.  Starting tomorrow it is going to be overcast and continue to be that way through the weekend.  Cloud cover combined with the warmer water temperatures means fishing should be very good.  The only problem could be heavy rain and that would probably occur Saturday night.  The forecast can change so who knows what to expect.  Right now, fishing looks good in the Smokies for at least a couple of days and hopefully longer.

It was so good to be out in the boat yesterday.  It’s been a while.  Jack says the cause is breathing the nitrogen near the water, but I have not been that relaxed in a while.

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

Byron Begley
May 2, 2013

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