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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is sunny and 49 degrees in Townsend this morning.  We’ve got some beautiful days in store for us starting yesterday.  There is no rain in the immediate forecast.

Little River is flowing at 211 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.86 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 262 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:55 am is 55 degrees.

Fishing is awesome.  To quote one angler, “Little River is on fire”.  I think he said he caught over thirty trout yesterday morning and he was going back for more. 

It’s no wonder.  Conditions are excellent.  We are getting some shade on the water now from the trees.  That is a welcome condition.  The water temperature is perfect.  Yesterday, the water temp peaked at 59 degrees at the “Y”.  It was cooler than that in the higher elevations.  That will probably be the same today.  A warm front will move in Sunday.  We’ll see highs in the 80’s and lows in the 50’s starting then.  The high temperature today is predicted to be 73 degrees.

The big storm, threatening us with 3 to 5 inches of rain totally missed us this week.  An inch or two would have been nice.  But, we didn’t get a flood and anglers are able to fish here and do well.

Trout are taking both dry flies and nymphs.  One fisherman told me yesterday, he had tons of strikes on a dry but couldn’t hook the fish.  He had never fished the Smokies before.  I’m sure he will figure that problem out today.  It’s a timing thing.  I used to have the same problem.  Another customer said he caught all of his trout on a Bead Head Pheasant Tail.  “They were eating them up.”

I noticed a lot of anglers here yesterday from out of town.  When the news broke, that we were not affected by the anticipated heavy rain, they drove here to fish.

It is hard, as a business owner to discourage customers from visiting here when the conditions are not good.  I do it all the time, whenever I have to.  When I do, our business is slow.  That happened this week.  I thought, surely we would get pounded by that storm.  I was wrong.  I will say, we did have a lot of heavy wind during those three days and fishing would have been tough.  Additionally, Mike, one of our local anglers said fishing slowed down as soon as that front moved in, even though we dodged the heavy rain.  So, I guess I did the right thing.

I remember the days before the internet well.  I lived in Nashville and showed up here only to find the streams were blown out or the water was low.

Our mail order business slowed this week.  I think that was due to the big storm moving through the Southeast United States.  Many of our mail order customers live in this region.  People were not thinking about fishing and ordering tackle.  They were thinking about floods and tornados. 

But, we are back to normal now.  Business is good.

We have a full nymphing class today.  Rob Fightmaster is teaching it.  This is our first ever nymphing class.  These students will learn a lot today.  Using nymphs, without a strike indicator, is a frustrating learning experience until you figure it out.  Over time you develop a sense, where something in your brain says, “This is a fish striking”.  Until that sense becomes fine tuned, it is best to set the hook anytime you feel anything.  It might be a rock, it could be a stick or it may be a trout. The more you do it, the better you get.  You don’t want to set the hook on nothing so hard the fly ends up in a tree limb above you. I’ve done that many times.  

Strike indicators are fine.  They spoil you.  The problem is, varying the depth you are fishing during a cast is next to impossible.  If you set the indicator 2 feet above your fly, you won’t go deeper than two feet.  If you are not using a strike indicator, you are able to allow the nymph to go deeper when you want to.  High sticking nymphs works well here.  You can hold a weighted nymph higher in the water column or lower using your rod as leverage.  Of course I’m talking about fishing close to you where you can control the depth without causing drag.  In choppy water, many trout are hooked only 10 to 15 feet away from you.

Frank and I have fished everywhere you can think of together.  He is a very good nymph fisherman.  We both learned to fish with a short line and weighted nymph on a fishing trip to Pennsylvania.  We learned from an expert. 

Then, maybe 25 years ago we were fishing with a guide who introduced us to strike indicators.  We were fishing on the Hiwassee River.  Neither Frank nor I had ever heard of a strike indicator.  They worked.  We were able to fish with nymphs far from the drift boat.  That changed our lives. 

Walter Babb is known as one of the best nymph fisherman in the Southern Appalachians.  I believe it.  I’ve seen him in action.  He can detect a strike, without an indicator, further away than anyone I have fished with.  It is amazing to watch him fish.

I’m going to be on vacation for a week starting tomorrow.  Paula and I will be fishing of course.  Daniel will be writing this report every day while I’m off.

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

Byron Begley
May 3, 2014 

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