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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is raining and 52 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I saw five vehicles on the roads during my morning commute.  That’s it!  I don’t blame people for not being out there. This is nasty weather. 

We have had ¾ of an inch of rain during the past 24 hours.  There is plenty more of the same expected.  The Weather Channel website is predicting up to 2” today and 1 to 2 inches tonight.  This is not good. 

Little River is up some but it looked pretty good when I drove by this morning earlier.  I’ve got a feeling it is going to be roaring later.  The water level is currently at 2.67 feet on the gauge or flowing at 485 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 272 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:05 am was 54 degrees.

We have cancelled our day two class again due to high water.  If the gauge is reading 2.5 feet or more, we don’t take beginners out on the water.  A gauge reading of 2.5 is OK for some folks who have spent time on the water and know where not to wade.  We don’t want someone who is brand new to the sport out in the streams at that level.  All three of our Day 2 classes have been cancelled this year.

You probably don’t want to fish in the Smokies today.  Flash floods will be possible.  If you can, find a tailwater where the generation schedule is to your liking. 

This rain is going to cause problems for the tailwaters too.  TVA will need to lower the lakes.  The South is getting hammered.  Many of the lakes, especially on the Tennessee River will have high water for a while.  We can’t get a break this year.  If the predictions are correct, rainfall for the year will be around 31 inches at the Knoxville Airport.  Normal for this date is 17.53 inches.  That will be about a 76% increase over normal for the year.  Needless to say, this has been a wet year so far. 

Al caught a 6 foot long paddlefish on a 7 weight fly rod last week.  That is probably a world record on a fly rod.  He was fishing with Eddie on the Holston River.  A boatload of biologists from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency helped them land and release the huge fish.  And listen to this, Eddie hooked and lost one too.  Paddlefish are getting to be rare so you don’t want to injure them.  Catching one on a fly or lure requires luck.  Al and Eddie were not fishing for them.  They were targeting hybrid stripers.  They caught plenty of those too.  Evidently the paddlefish are spawning.  I think paddlefish are filter feeders, not predators.  I’ll have to look that up.

There will be a full moon in two weeks.  That means, if this weather has not messed them up, we’ll see the shellcrackers (redear sunfish) spawn around here.  I talk to a lot of fishermen and many of them are not fly fishermen.  For instance, Ray fished Chickamauga Lake a week ago.  He said the shellcrackers were not spawning.  I also talked to anglers from the southern States.  The shellcrackers have spawned in Mississippi and probably Alabama too. 

Maybe they spawned here and I missed it.  I don’t think so.  Shellcrackers are known to spawn during the first full moon in May.  This year, the first full moon in May will be around the 24th.  Now, if the water is warmer earlier, and the moon is right, they could spawn in April.  I think they did last year in the Little Tennessee River.  For some reason they like the full moon.  Last year we missed the shellcracker spawn altogether.  I don’t know when that happened.  All I know is I missed it.

Fly fishing for shellcrackers is a blast.  I love it. These fish are like bluegill on steroids.  A 2 pounder is not rare.  The state record is 3 pounds 6 ounces.  These fish fight like a permit.  I just hope to hit it right this year.

Well, let’s see what this rain does and start planning to fish again.

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

Byron Begley
May 5, 2013

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