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.  It was overcast and 64 degrees at 7:35 am.  I could see the fabulous mountains from my office window.  It was a beautiful.  Now, I hear thunder.  It is raining cats and dogs.  The mountains are gone and the trees are swaying back and forth due to the howling wind. 

A quick glance at the radar indicates a short lived fairly severe thunderstorm right overhead.  A broader look is showing more of the same on the way in a little while.  This huge cell seems to be breaking up as it enters our area so maybe this won’t last long.

Little River is flowing at 237 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 276 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:35 was 62.5 degrees.  The high water temperature yesterday was 65.9 degrees.

Fishing will probably be good today in the Smoky Mountains depending on what these thunderstorms do.  You don’t want to be in the woods when one of these pass over.  Trout are taking dry flies.  Patterns may not matter much as long as they appear real and floating with the current and not against it.  Try a Yellow Sally Stonefly imitation, any of them.  My personal choices are still the Neversink Caddis and Yellow Stimulator.  A Parachute Adams in gray or yellow should produce.  Try a yellow Elk Hair Caddis.  You might want to use a nymph if the top water activity is slow.  A Bead Head Pheasant Tail will work for that.

Smallmouth Bass fly fishing is getting good.  I’ve heard some excellent reports from close friends who share my enthusiasm for that sport.  The best fishing seems to be in the lowland rivers and tailwaters.  I have found the lake fishing to be fair.  Paula and I are going on Monday, hoping it will be great.

The moon is full.  You know what that means?  Shellcrackers should be spawning in shallow water, on the flats so to speak.  I’ve been checking the usual spots every week when I go fishing.  I saw three or four swimming around on their usual spawning grounds but not beds had been made.  I expect to see a difference next week.  And I expect to see the smallmouth bass fishing pick up next week in the lakes.

The storm is over here.  With the overcast skies, this might turn out to be an excellent day to fish the Smokies.  It looks great out there now.

Frank Bryant who owns Chota Outdoor Gear was in yesterday toting a brown paper bag with one of his prototypes hidden inside.  We pulled it out and critiqued it just like we have all of them in the past.  I’ve seen them all months before anyone else outside his secret organization of close friends, Daniel and Paula included.  No, we won’t tell you what was in that bag.  Not even a clue.   

Frank and his wife live on Melton Hill Lake.  I love their home.  That is a beautiful piece of water they live on.  The Clinch River is backed up by Melton Hill Dam near Knoxville.  Like all the lakes in our region and in Middle Tennessee, it has to be another great smallmouth bass lake.  You can also catch a muskie in Melton Hill.  I suggested I bring our boat over there so he and I can try it out.  Of course, Frank is ready to go anytime.

I really want to fish for smallmouth bass on Norris Lake.  They say that is the best smallie lake in our area.  It’s just too far for me to drive.  The water there is clear and clean.  Norris is massive too.  And below the dam, there is a great trout fishery on the Clinch River.  Eventually the river flow slows as the water becomes Melton Hill Lake. 

Someday we’ll rent a house over there and explore the area.  This year, we’ll concentrate on the Little Tennessee River.

Today is a big day for me.  It’s Derby Day.  I will go home from work a little early, toast Kentucky and Paula with a mint julep and watch the big screen.  I don’t know the horses and I don’t care.  I grew up in Kentucky where racing horses is a passion and big business.  When I was a kid we raised thoroughbreds for fox hunting and showing.  We didn’t raise race horses.  That was out of my farther and sister’s league and financial realm.  But you have to admit, they are pretty animals and I can tell you first hand, when you give one the gas you better hang on.  Those horses are built for speed. 

I have been the first rider a horse has ever had on it’s back, several times.  We didn’t do it like the cowboys did.  Cowboys but on the bridle and saddle, climbed on and rode the bucking bronco until either the horse or the cowboy won.

We took it slow.  The first week we walked them around every day with a bridle on and that’s it.  Once they got used to the bridle we slipped a saddle on their back with a loose girth.  Then, for a few days we just led them around.  These young horses rarely got excited.  They did chew on the bits and try to spit them out.

Then the day came when I would get on their back.  Sometimes I would just put one foot in the stirrup and lay across the saddle.  If the colt got tense I would slide off and wait until the next day.  Finally, I would end up on their back seated in the saddle.  I can only remember a couple of times when the colt or filly went nuts.  Over time they got used to the idea and eventually actually liked it. 

I’ve been thrown a few times and just plain fell off more than that.  Those days are over for me.  But, I still like to watch those horses run, especially on this day. 

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

Byron Begley
May 5, 2012 

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