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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is foggy and 58 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I can’t see anything past the Trillium Cove shopping area.  Traffic was light this morning.  It is peaceful in Townsend.  Most people want it to stay that way. There is big news for people wanting to visit here.  It appears the mountain slide work on highway 321 is finished for now.  Our main highway was narrowed to one lane and controlled by traffic lights during the construction.  Traffic on weekends backed up and the wait to get through was long.  I ran into town yesterday to pick up the boat.  I had the bearings in the trailer pulled and replaced as a precaution.  While driving through the construction zone I could see workers removing signs and the barricades.  They were sweeping the road.  I imagine the two-lane highway has re-opened by now just in time for Troutfest.  Thank goodness.

Little River is perfect for anglers.  The flow is good though on the high side and the water temperature is 58 degrees.  Flow is currently 280 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 225 cfs.  The water is clear.

We are going to have some excellent fishing starting right now.  All fishing conditions are improving.  One exception might be the lowland rivers.  Gary Troutman came by yesterday and said some of the rivers were muddy.  That takes a few days to clear most of the time.  But, the Park is perfect.

You might want to use nymphs early then switch to dry flies later in the day.  I would use a Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph or Tellico Nymph.  Later, I would use a yellow pattern of some sort.  My choice would most likely be a #16 Yellow Stimulator or #16 Yellow Neversink Caddis.

Fishing this weekend should be awesome everywhere if the lowland rivers clear.  I don’t know if there is turbid water in the lakes.  That can affect the tailwaters, especially the Tennessee River.

Smallmouth fishing on the lakes should improve too.  The water got a little chilly last week and the bass were not on the banks.  We like them right on the banks taking top water flies.  That’s my favorite sport. 

I got into lake fishing three years ago again.  I had some close calls in the Park due to my balance problem.  If I were to fall and break my arm, I could not work.  Also, I could not fish.  I decided it was not worth losing either so Paula and I bought a boat and started fishing some of the lakes around here using our fly rods.

Believe it or not, I have had people who I barely know, ask to follow me in a different boat and watch me fish.  I find that hard to believe too.  They might learn something someone else taught me, I’m not an expert at this sport of fly fishing on a lake.  But, I’m learning more every time I go.  The last thing I would want, on my day off is to have someone following me around on a lake.  On the other hand, I like meeting up with my friends on the lakes.  Last week there were three boat-loads of us.  We would meet up from time to time and discuss the current fishing, which was very slow. I learned a while back not to tell people where I fish on the internet.

We have about 8 lakes all around us.  I doubt if one fishes better than the other.  I got an e-mail from a friend yesterday which included some recent photos.  He fishes a lake I have never even been on not far from here.  Judging from the photos, he’s doing a lot better than I am this year.  He is a better fisherman than I am.

When I was 8 years old my parents bought me my first boat.  It was a 10’ Sears Jon with a 3.5 hp Sears air cooled outboard.  That was in 1958.  I grew up on boats.  My parents had a houseboat or a cruiser back to the years before I was born.  I do have photographs of me at probably age four holding a stringer of fish that I caught.  I have been fishing all my life.

At age 12 I got a larger boat with more power.  I ran around the Kentucky River and Lake Cumberland alone or with friends.   

I was told two things when my parents turned me loose on the water at that age.  I was told to wear a life jacket while underway and slow down to an idle when passing close to another fisherman.  The first was for safety and the second was for courtesy. I still adhere to those rules.  Frank and I slowed down last week as we passed two guys in a boat who were trolling for walleye.  They waved and probably couldn’t believe we slowed down.  We were also wearing self-inflating life jackets.

Things have changed.  Sometimes I am appalled at the lack of courtesy on the water.  Water skiers were my first marine encounter with menaces.  I even hooked a water skier once by accident.  Next came the jet skis.

Last year Josh and I were floating on a tailwater in his drift boat.  We were fishing for smallmouth bass.  A man in a jon boat with a jet outboard came by us wide open about 100 feet away.  He waved at us and smiled.  I could not believe what I saw.  Josh said it happens all the time.  That is a narrow river. I don’t fish on tailwaters often but from what I hear that is common.  What happened to angler courtesy?  The guy in that boat was a fisherman too. What was he thinking?  Why didn’t he just slow down for a minute or two?      

There is an interesting thread on our message board.  CLICK HERE.  I actually started it when I heard there was a new commercial jet boat operation opening on the French Broad River below Douglas Dam.  You should read the comments and watch the videos. 

As our world becomes more populated and technology has changed in the marine industry, maybe it’s time to re-think “Slow No Wake Zones” in Tennessee.  We have them now.  I read the TCA this morning.  These zones are set up for a number of reasons including safety and damage to assets, mostly commercial boat docks.  In Florida there are rivers with no wake zones to protect the manatees. Maybe we should have more of these zones.

I don’t mind no wake zones.  I think they are relaxing.  Going fishing relaxes me.  That’s probably the main reason I go fishing.  To tell you the truth, I really enjoy “No Motor” lakes.  Our State does not have many.  I wish we had more. When everyone is using electric trolling motors on a lake, it is a very pleasant experience.  I had a guy outrun me on a trolling motor only lake one time.  He had two electric motors mounted on his transom.      

Maybe I’m just getting old and set in my ways.  Maybe my angler courtesy rule is outdated.  It’s too late for me.  I won’t change.

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

Byron Begley
May 16, 2012

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