Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  To all you moms out there, “Happy Mothers Day”.  It is a beautiful morning in Townsend.  The air is cool and clear.  There is a lot less traffic than I’ve seen in a couple of days.  The Spring Festival ended last night.  The banjos, guitars, bass guitars, fiddles and dulcimers are safe in their cases until the next gig.  I saw a few fishermen at the swinging bridge and talked to one of them earlier.  He reported “no catch so far” but said they were breaking down stream.  “Breaking” means the same thing as rising.  The river looks great and the water temperature was 57 degrees at 8:27 am.

Fishing is very good but the water is getting low again so you need to be extra careful not to spook the trout.  Wear dark clothing that blends in with the forest.  Many Smokies anglers wear camo.  Stay low, hide behind boulders and fish the faster water.  It is nearly impossible to catch a trout in a slow pool at times like this. 

You will see hatches, heavier around dark.  Yellow stoneflies are probably the most common aquatic insect hovering over the water right now.  But, there are caddis, mayflies and other species of stoneflies available as food for trout too.  Terrestrials will be on the water.  You might be surprised how well a beetle imitation will do.  Trout love beetles.  Heck, try a Green Weenie.  I know it’s early but you never know.  A Parachute Adams is working.  I heard that yesterday.  My preference would be some sort of Yellow stonefly pattern.  I do like a Yellow Elk Hair Caddis.  It floats well and I can see it.  Any yellow sally stonefly pattern is a good idea to try.  Dropping a nymph off the dry is a good idea.  You will catch more trout if you do this.  But, most important, is stealth and presentation.  If they see you, your shadow or your fly line hits the water on top of them your chances of catching trout in that area are close to zero.  These are wild trout and they are scared to death of predators.  Anything that interrupts the norm means danger to these fish.

I think the smallmouth bass will be spawning next week in the lakes.  Maybe they are now.  They have been spawning in the rivers.  I don’t know about the lakes because I have not had time to go fishing.  That will change after Troutfest. 

Largemouth bass, bluegill and shellcrackers have been caught in the lakes on flies and poppers.  That’s what my friends are telling me.  I can’t wait to go fishing.

It was 5:50 pm yesterday, just before closing, when Joe McGroom mentioned the Kentucky Derby.  I forgot about it.  I told everyone I was going home and left.  Paula mixed up a couple of mint juleps and we sat down in front of the big TV and watched as Animal Kingdom won the race.  I grew up in central Kentucky and moved to a horse farm when I was in the 6th grade.  I even showed horses briefly.  On two separate occasions that I will never forget, I was thrown from a horse in the show ring in front of huge crowds.  I want to make a clear distinction here.  There is “falling off a horse” and “being thrown from a horse”.  I was thrown in both of those public events.  I have also fallen off a horse many times, just not in a show ring.

Bumps appear on my arms when I hear the band play “My Old Kentucky Home” at the Derby.  When I was in high school, my buddies and I would skip school and go to Keenland, the closest race track over in Lexington.  My father and sister fox hunted at Iroquois Hunt Club in Clark County.  So we raised hunter jumpers.  I even broke a few horses (being the first rider on the horse’s back).  As you can imagine I was thrown and fell off many times.

Our family always attended steeplechases.  Sometimes they were elaborate events.  Others were just held in front of a small audience in a field on a farm. My interests in fox hunting and steeplechases were completely focused on the girls who attended or participated. 

Dad and one of his friends had a horse that must have been really good.  They entered the horse in the Grand National Steeplechase.  I don’t think I ever saw the animal.  When the horse walked off the ship in England he was lame and was scratched from the race.  I don’t know whatever happened to that horse. Dad passed away and his partner was killed in a hunting accident.  I guess I’ll never know.

A friend of mine told me one day that his best friend asked him to invest in a race horse.  Paul knew the horse business people well in Lexington, he was connected.  According to him he turned down the investment because he didn’t want to lose $10,000 on a horse.  Now, Paul liked to mess with me and he could have been kidding.  The horse turned out to be Secretariat.  It is a great story and maybe it actually happened. He told me that story before Secretariat won the Derby. So, maybe so.

Last night after the race I wiped the sweat off my julep cup.  Engraved on it were the words, “Madison County Horse Show, Byron B. Begley, Best Boy Rider, 12 and Under, 1960.  Back then we got julep cups when we did something good at a horse show.  Then everyone's parents took the cups to a jewler and had them engraved.

Two years later I got my first fly rod on my birthday. Since then I have not riden horses much. I did have a racking pony that I rode to the ponds to fish.   One day I will never forget, some friends and I rode horses to a backcountry lake in Paradise Valley Montana.  I was riding a crazy horse and I’m surprised I did not get thrown or fall off.  I should have known what was about to happen.  The wrangler walked that horse out and asked all of us, “who has the most riding experience”?  We all looked at each other and I said, “that would be me”.  The animal was nuts. He had that look in his eyes.

When we got there, parked next to the lake was a Chevy Suburban.  Now why on earth did we not ride in that truck?  I’ll never figure that one out.  The truck did have a supply of food, beer and belly boats for our exclusive use and consumption. 

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

Byron Begley
May 8, 2011

Troutfest will be held on May 13th through the 15th. This is going to be an incredible event and you should plan to be here. To learn more CLICK HERE to visit the Troutfest website.  To purchase banquet tickets online, CLICK HERE.

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Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:

Saturday March 26 – Beginner Day One
Saturday April 9 – Beginner Day One
Saturday April 30 – Beginner Day One
Sunday May 1 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday May 7 – Beginner Day One
Saturday May 21 – Beginner Day One
Sunday May 22 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday June 11 – Beginner Day One
Saturday June 25 – Beginner Day One
Sunday June 26 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday July 9 – Beginner Day One
Saturday July 23 – Beginner Day One
Sunday July 24 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday September 10 – Beginner Day One
Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

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