Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is a beautiful pleasant morning in Townsend.  Traffic is light, a few people were walking around and I did not see any anglers in the river when I stopped there.  I’m sure our town businesses are preparing for Troutfest.  Most of the motels I know of are booked.  Cabins are reserved.  Our little economy will get a boost this weekend. 

Little River’s level is dropping.  We have a 50% chance for rain today.  A good shower will help the rivers and streams.  But, fishing has been good.  Flow is currently 156 cubic feet per second compared to median flow of 223 cfs for this date.  The water temperature is 61 degrees in town.  Temperature is fine and the water is fairly low.

That means you need to be stealthy.  The water is not low like you would expect on a Summer day when we have not had rain in a while.  It is just low compared to normal for May.  But still, trout get nervous and move to different locations where they can hide as water recede.  On the other hand, when waters rise, the fish move to better locations where they can hide and get access to more food.  They constantly adjust to water levels.  I would expect to catch more trout in faster moving water like riffles and pockets or where riffles enter pools.  The choppy water offers protection for the trout from predators.  They are going to eat.  Their metabolism is in high gear.  They require more food and food is plentiful right now. 

When the water is at this level I like to fish dry flies.  What we have is dry fly water right now.  It’s fun to drop a dry into a pocket behind a boulder where water runs around the object into a deeper place called a pocket.  The fish are waiting in there.  The trick is to keep that fly in the pocket and not let the currents drag it out.  The longer you can keep it floating naturally as a live aquatic or terrestrial insect would, the better chance you have at getting a strike.

My choice would be Light Cahill, Yellow Elk Hair Caddis, Yellow Neversink Caddis, small Yellow Stimulator or Parachute Adams patterns.  Just move up the stream hitting the pockets, hiding as much as possible and get a good drift.  Your efforts will be rewarded.

Laurel Lake

The lakebed you see above is what used to be Laurel Lake.  I took this picture about two years ago.  The small pond remaining is only a fraction in size of the original lake. The old lakebed and another 50+ acres is owned by our County.  I remember that lake well though it was drained about 20 years ago.  What is left is just a few hundred yards from our house.

Laurel Lake, according to State of Tennessee officials who watch these things, began leaking.  Expensive measures had to be taken back then or breach the dam for safety reasons.  Unfortunately, the 50 acre reservoir was drained and what remains is a swamp in some areas and dry land in other.

A lot of us want to build it back.  I have written about this before and I will continue to do so for a long time.  This is something almost everyone in our County wants to see restored.  We have the ear of State officials and even a U.S. Senator.  We are holding a meeting in June to garner support to restore the lake.

Some local people deny the lake was leaking at all.  Others say it was.  I have not idea.  But yesterday I got a call from a man who seems to know a lot about this lake.  He name is Terrell Hendren.  Terrell works for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.  He oversees the Safe Dam Program in our region.

Evidently there are some sinkhole issues in the lake bed.  Water seeped underground and emerged somewhere below the dam.  That was found over 20 years ago.  I asked him what needed to be done to comply with State standards and restore the lake.  I was somewhat surprised at what he said.

First, a Geotechnicial evaluation needs to be done.  That involves drilling, finding caverns, testing soil and making recommendations on what needs to be done to make this impoundment compliant.  Maybe it can’t be made compliant.  After that, a new dam needs to be designed and built from the ground up. The old dam must not meet new standards.  So that is where the $1.5 million keeps coming up when I talk to people about Laurel Lake.  They know something I did not know. 

But, we’ll keep trying and I’ll keep talking about it.  Maybe something will happen.  I’m hoping to be in charge of the fish once we rebuild Laurel Lake.  I’ll volunteer for that.

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

Byron Begley
May 10, 2011


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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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