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

Welcome to the Fly Fishing Report.  It is cloudy and 62 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Fog is blocking my view of the Smoky Mountains right now.  I came to work at 8:00 am, which is late for me.  There was quite a bit of local activity.  The restaurants were busy and of course Steve’s Parkway Grocery had the usual big crowd.  You can eat a great breakfast or lunch there for a very low price.  Everyone is friendly too.  Everybody knows your name.

Little River looks great!  Flow is good at 323 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 219 cfs.  The water is slightly stained, perfect for sneaking up on a big trout in the Park.  We only got ¼” of rain at the shop during the past 24 hours.  The Airport measured 1.63”, which was a record for the date.  This rain we’ve been getting is hit or miss.  So, your favorite stream in the Smokies may be higher or lower than expected based on Little River.  The lowland rivers exiting the Park might be muddy further downstream too.  We have a 40% chance for rain today.  Then, the skies will be clear for several days.  The temperature will warm up.

We have before us a spectacular scenario for fishing.  First, there is the Park.  Water temperatures are perfect.  Flow is excellent in this watershed.  It is May, a time when there is a lot of aquatic insect activity providing food for the trout.  You might do best using nymphs with the higher water.  Gradually, dry flies will be the best choice.  We like that. 

The lowland rivers need to clear some.  If you are floating you might do very well for smallmouth bass using streamers.  Be careful wading in turbid water.  But, don’t rule out the lowland rivers.  After the water clears and warms up some, poppers or other top water flies should do well for you.

Trout fishing in the tailwaters should be perfect too.  That depends on the river and the color of the water.  Some heavy rainfall might have muddied some of the lakes.  Maybe not.  I can’t say sitting here. 

The lakes are rising.  Tennessee Valley Authority is letting that happen.  Most of the lakes in East Tennessee will be at full Summer pool soon.  I have to change the lake level box below every day.  At least two or three lakes move up a foot or ½ foot.  The water should be warming up by the weekend.  Smallmouth bass fishing will improve.

Fishing for smallmouth bass in the lower tailwaters has been spotty or that’s what the guides are telling me.  We think the cold snap put them down.  We all expect that fishery to improve. 

I hear the shellcrackers are on the beds.  You can’t prove that by me.  I look every time I go fishing and have not found that to be the case.  We went right through the first full moon in May and they were not there.  I expected them to be on the beds in April, early like everything else around here.  I was wrong.

So, I’m saying “Fishing is Excellent” again.  Check the gauge above.

This morning I sat down and cut 5/16th inch strips of fly foam for a while.  I use those strips to make Knuckleheads.  I try to tie 6 each evening.  Customers are buying them faster than I can tie them.  I built up a sizable inventory this winter, or so I thought.  The big surprise for me was, customers started buying chartreuse bugs earlier than I thought they would.  So, I’m tying chartreuse. 

Our bass flies are coming in and Daniel is building a display for “bass only” in the shop.  I saw Bill working on it yesterday.  Smallmouth bass fishing is getting very popular around here.  After all, Tennessee is the smallmouth bass State according to TWRA.  I agree.

Soon the smallies will go back to the deeper water in the lakes.  Then we’ll concentrate on largemouth bass and panfish.  I’m planning on doing some serious fly fishing for carp and stripers this year, after the smallmouth bass retreat.

I stopped at the Townsend Shopping Center last night on my way home.  That is one of those special places in Townsend.  By looking at the exterior of the building, you would not have any idea what it is.  The sign says “Townsend Shopping Center” like it has for decades.

What you find inside is a family operation.  You will see a large display of Lodge USA made cast iron cookware.  You will find a real old time hardware store.  I love those old hardware stores.  When I need something hardware related, chances are they will have it.

You will also see a ton of Case knives.  If you talk to Jerry you will learn that he has a lot more of them stored in the big safe.  Jerry knows his knives.  You should go in there and talk to him about knives. 

I stop there when I go fishing.  It’s a good place to buy boat fuel, ice and lunch stuff.  I like buying fuel there because there is a lot of room for my truck and boat.  I don’t get hemmed in at the Townsend Shopping Center. 

You might see the ginseng dealer buying from diggers.  He travels around our area and shows up here every week or so.  The ginseng vehicle is an old rental truck.  Maybe it was a Hertz truck.  I don’t know, it is yellow.  There is no lettering on the truck indicating they are buying ginseng.  If you dig and sell “sang” you know that truck.

The Townsend Shopping Center is a great place to do some Christmas shopping for a guy too.  We bought Frank some cast iron cookware for his hunting camp.  You would not know it by looking at the building.  This is one of those special places that you have to find. Next time you are in Townsend, go in.  It’s a cool place.

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

Byron Begley
May 15, 2012


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