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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and 59 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The Spring Festival is going on and the field beside and behind the Visitor’s Center is packed with vendors, musicians and visitors.  That doesn’t seem to be affecting us in a negative way as it usually does.  It doesn’t matter what’s going on in Townsend this Spring, fly fishermen are going to be here because the fishing is great. 

The streams are still flowing fairly high.  The water’s decent seems to have leveled off due to the abundant underground water supply or aquifer.  Little River is flowing at 335 cubic feet per second (cfs).  For those like me who would rather see the flow measured in feet on the gauge, the river is flowing at 2.35 feet.  Median flow for this date is 273 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:35 am is 56.5 degrees.

Fishing has been excellent in the Smokies.  I was outside yesterday pulling weeds from our landscaping around the shop.  Fishermen were coming by and many stopped to talk to me.  One guy said he caught 10 rainbows and his father caught more than that on the Middle Prong.  They were using Bead Head Pheasant Tails and strike indicators. 

Dry fly fishermen are finding plenty of action in the evenings.  All you need is a Light Cahill or Yellow Neversink Caddis and you’ve got it made.  The bugs are on the water and the trout are slurping them down.

Fishing in the lowland rivers outside the Park has been very good.  Smallmouth bass are active.

Fishing may be excellent today.  I’m a little skeptical about tomorrow.  It’s going to rain.

The key to all of this is the water temperature.  Temperature drives nature.  When the water temperature reaches the high 50’s and 60’s, river fish need to feed.  Feeding is what they are doing now.  Their metabolism is in high gear.

The lakes are a different story.  We fished the Little Tennessee River this week and the fish were still in deep water.  I used a little trick that I thought about all Winter, a weighted black Wooly Bugger and a strike indicator.  My thought is, when the smallmouth bass are not in the shallows, they are in 6 to 10 feet of water when the temperature is what it is.  I found out quickly on Wednesday that the bass were not in shallow water that day.  So, I grabbed a 7 weight rod loaded up with the bugger and the indicator.  I cast to the shallow water near the banks.  Nothing.  Then, when the fly was about 5 feet from the bank, I stopped my retrieve and let the bugger sink. 

After a few casts, and watching that indicator, the foam football went under.  I hooked and landed a good smallmouth bass.  The wind picked up so I was not able to keep trying this but I will soon, probably next Wednesday.

All we need is more dang rain.  As of this morning, rainfall at the Knoxville Airport is recorded at 27.9 inches for the year.  Normal is 17.38 inches.  That equates to a 60% surplus over normal.  Now, the weather experts are predicting the odious results of this slow moving front will drop between 1 to 3 inches on us over the next 48 hours.  That will put us at 70% above normal.

You know what this is doing to us?  It is messing up our fishing. The streams have been high often this Spring, too high to fish.  Then, the larger rivers are chocked full of water.  The lake levels have been very high this Winter and Spring. 

TVA held the water back as long as they could.  They didn’t want to add to the Mississippi River flooding situation.  Our water ends up there.  Finally, TVA had to let go and let go they did.  Water was flowing through flood gates, sluices and generators.  That messed up the tailwater fishing. 

This problem is not limited to our little area.  This problem is widespread. 

It has been cold too.  Last Winter was the warmest on record.  I think the whole year was the warmest on record in the United States.  This year is the complete opposite.  Fishing gets really good then something happens, weather related, to mess it up.

When we get back to normal I am going to fish, fish, fish.  Everyone is going to do the same thing.  Man, I’ve got pent up frustration that only lots of fishing will cure.  I’ve got enough flies tied up to last a couple of decades.  All I’ve been doing is talking or writing about fishing for months, 7 days a week, all day long.  This oral fishing is getting old.  You know what I mean.  You are feeling the same way.

We’ll get our time and it will be soon, just later than normal.  Later will be fine.  We are patient people aren’t we? 

I have to admit, my patience has been wearing thin. In fact, I’m out of it.  If patience were a tradable commodity, I’d be broke.  I look out the door to our fire escape and see that boat down there just waiting for another day. 

We have had a few days of good fishing.  Fishing in the Smokies will probably be very good today.  I hope you took or take advantage of it.  If you live in the North, you may be looking out at the snow-covered ground.  Hmm, maybe it’s not so bad here after all.

The horses will be running in Louisville, Kentucky later.  Due to my upbringing in the Bluegrass State, Paula and I will be sipping mint juleps as the band plays My Old Kentucky Home on the big screen.  I tear up every year when I hear Steven Foster’s song on the first Saturday in May.  It’s Derby Day!

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

Byron Begley
May 4, 2013 

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