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

Welcome to the Fly Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  Can you believe this heat?  The high yesterday was 88 degrees.  Depending on which weather website you believe it is going to cool off.  One says a high today of 84 degrees.  Their competitor predicts 79 degrees.  It is still going to be hot for a day in early May.  We may see highs in the high 70’s next week.  It is still relatively cool at night, in the 60’s.

Little River and other streams and lakes in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina are feeling the heat.  The high temperature in Little River yesterday was 66.5 degrees at the confluence of the three prongs.  This morning at 7:45 am it is 63.7 degrees. 

Flow is getting lower than normal.  Right now the flow in Little River is 234 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 260 cfs.

The trout fishing is excellent.  These conditions should not affect your fishing much but to make sure, I would go to the upper Middle Prong of the Little River of on the East Prong around Elkmont.  The water will be cooler there this afternoon.  Or you could go up high to the brook trout waters around The Chimneys or above.  There are plenty of brook trout streams up there and the water will be chilly.  It is going to cool off so this spike in water temperature will be temporary. 

I would use dry flies most of the day.  A Yellow Sally imitation would work.  Or, try a Light Cahill or Parachute Adams.  Give an Elk Hair Caddis a try.  Heck, even drop a Green Weenie off one of those.  I know those are working already.  A Bead Head Pheasant Tail is another good nymph.

Fishing is awesome for smallmouth bass in the lowland rivers.  And, it’s not bad on the lakes.  The bass are taking top water flies.  Use a Stealth Bomber of Knucklhead.  It’s kind of interesting, Doug and I had a fairly good day on the lake Monday.  We didn’t keep count but we hooked about 30 and landed around 15.  The guys throwing hardware had a terrible day.  I think that is because the bass are shallow, right on the bank in just a few inches of water.  Tossing a heavy, noisy plug or spinner bait would definitely spook the smallies.  Our little light foam flies did not spook them at all.  When ours hit the water the bass usually turned and looked.  Some of them ate.  It’s the same in the rivers.

We were fishing the Little Tennessee River but the fishing should be the same or better in the lakes close to you.  Of course, Norris is known for big smallmouth bass.  But you should do just as well on Cherokee, Douglas, Fort Loudoun, Watts Bar or Melton Hill.  I haven’t heard anything from anglers fishing Melton Hill but there is no reason the smallies are not active there either.  Personally, I like Tellico.  Where we fish on Tellico there are not many boaters.  And, I know exactly why.  You could damage your boat down there in the Little Tennessee section.  There are a lot of rocks and trees just below the water surface.  There are two nice ramps below Chilhowee Dam.  You just have to be careful.

I also like Dale Hollow.  The world record smallie came from that lake.  Center Hill is another of my favorites.  It’s been years since I have fished there.  Paula and I spent two weeks on Dale Hollow last year.  But all my friends tell me Norris is the best.  I’ve never fished there mainly because I would have to drag my boat through a city to get there.

They say Chickamauga is the best lake for shellcrackers and they are supposedly on the beds there now.  The moon is almost full.  That usually indicates the shellcracker spawn in May.  I’ve never fished Chickamauga.  I want to try that one sometime.  Of the 8 or so area lakes I tend to fish the ones to the south.  That way I don’t have to drive through Pigeon Forge or Knoxville.

The Trout Unlimited Chapters in our area are preparing for the Youth Aquatic Biology and Trout Fishing Adventure.  This 5 day camp is held at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.  There they have housing, professional councilors and a mess hall.  The Institute is located right on the Middle Prong of the Little River.   I think there were 12 kids chosen this year.  The dates are:  Tuesday June 19th through Saturday the 23rd.  I talked to a lot of the kids who attended last year’s camp.

They have plenty of adult supervision.  But we need mentors to help with fly casting, fishing and fly tying.  Anyone acquainted with or has a knowledge of aquatic entomology would be helpful too.  The Park Service fisheries department is helping with this.

If you would like to volunteer as a mentor just contact John Thurman or 865-494-7771.  You will enjoy this experience.  These kids are excited and love every minute of this camp.  I know.  The kids last year told me.  You can volunteer for one day or more.

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

Byron Begley
May 3, 2012

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