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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is foggy and 65 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The greenery is lush thanks to the rain we’ve been getting lately.  It is beautiful here right now.  The trilliums in the woods around our house are thriving well.  Paula and I were looking at some last night.  I love this time of year and I feel blessed to live here.

I drove by the river this morning.  The flow is up some and the water was clear at 7:50 am.  Flow is currently 195 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.81 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 227 cfs.  The water temperature is 63.5 degrees.  We had .40” of rain in our gauge this morning.

Last year on this date the river was flowing at 315 cfs or 2.3 feet on the gauge.  We had a wet Spring last year.  Often, the rivers were not fishable.  The tailwaters were generating full bore last Spring.  People were not fishing much.  This year is more normal though slightly dryer.  Tonight that will change.

Fishing is great.  The fishing conditions are perfect.  You will catch trout on dry flies or nymphs in the Smokies today.  I would use a Yellow Stimulator, Yellow Sally or Light Cahill for a dry fly.  Bead Head Pheasant Tails or either chartreuse or pink Weenies would be good choices for nymphs.

The lakes are fishing well.  I heard a report yesterday that backed that up.  Tommy was telling me about some huge bluegill and shellcrackers he and Rufus caught this week.  The first full moon in May is usually the best time to catch these panfish on flies or poppers.  Rubber Legged Dragons are especially productive for large bluegill.  Let them sink several feet before starting your retrieve, then do it slowly.  That is a great way to catch the bulls. 

We will probably get some heavy rain late today, tonight and maybe tomorrow.  One weather website predicts 1 to 2 inches tonight.  Some thunderstorms may be severe.  This storm activity will precede the arrival of a cold front.  We’ll see lows in the 40’s and highs in the 60’s through the weekend.  There is a very slight chance for rain this weekend.  Baring high water, this could be a perfect weekend to be fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains.

It’s official.  Dancing Bear Lodge will not re-build.  I saw the story on the KnoxNews website this morning.  CLICK HERE to read the story.  Dancing Bear’s main lodge building burned in November.  This beautiful property was a fine place to stay and dine.  I hate to hear it will not return.  We hate to lose nice accommodations in Townsend. 

Wilson Reynolds, who bought the foreclosed on Valley View Lodge, is totally remodeling the buildings and improving the 16 acre property in town.  I know Wilson well and when he says he’s going to do something well, he does.  He’s already spent a few million dollars and there’s a lot more to be spent.  This place is going to be incredible. 

New restaurants have opened or are in the process of doing so this year.  Last Winter, a Mexican Restaurant opened in the Timbers location.  We’ve eaten there several times.  The food is great and the service is top notch.  The Back Porch Restaurant is under new management.  Their specialty is Cajun seafood.  I’ve heard great things about the Back Porch.

The former Dead Beat Pete’s and Danny Kay’s Grill building is getting a facelift and will re-open soon under new ownership.  The owners and operators are the same family who run Trailhead and Riverstone restaurants.  They do well at the other locations.  I bet this one does well too.

Paula and I drove through some rural towns in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Florida last week on our vacation.  I saw some towns that were horribly lacking in prosperity.  Many commercial buildings were vacant. It is sad to see those towns.  We drove through plenty of them last week.

We saw other small towns that appeared to be doing well.  One is Chattsworth, Georgia.  That is one pretty town.  It seems to have the perfect mix of small industry, retail, restaurants and residential neighborhoods.  We could tell, employment is high in Chattsworth.  Business appears to be good.

Another town we passed through, with an apparently aggressive economy was Eufaula, Alabama. Talk about a nice town, Eufaula is one shining jewel.  Evidently, Eufaula barely missed the destruction caused by the Civil War.  The war ended before the town was taken.  In fact, after Montgomery fell to the Union, lawmakers fled to Eufaula to maintain the State Government.  For a while, Eufaula was the Capital of Alabama.

There are some beautiful old homes there that had to have been built prior to the war.  Lake Eufaula and its coves are just about everywhere you look in that town.  This town with a population of about 14,000 people is a place I would like to visit some day.  The fishing there must be great.  I saw more boat launches, crammed full of trucks and trailers, than I’ve ever seen.

Marianna, Florida is still as beautiful as I remembered when I fished there in the 1970’s. I don’t know exactly what drives that economy, but whatever it is, it’s working.

When we see a vacant building in Townsend, it makes us all feel bad.  But by comparison, Townsend looks very prosperous.  Our town survives on tourism.  We all know that well now, especially when Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed last October.  October is the big month.  Business was bad last October.  Some businesses never recovered.  We made it but not by much.  Following October is a period of very slow business, which doesn’t gain much momentum until the next Spring. 

Two resorts closed this year. I hope our Government never shuts down again. 

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

Byron Begley
May 14, 2014

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