Townsend, Tennessee

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  The sun is shining and the air is clear.  The Smoky Mountains look beautiful.  Townsend is quiet, traffic is light and businesses are not seeing many customers today including us.  Business is always slow before a holiday and Memorial Day weekend is coming up.  We’ll be busy this weekend and Townsend will be full of visitors. 

Little River looks great.  The flow is gradually going down and the temperature is going up.  We’ll see highs around 80 degrees for the next few days and there is very little chance for rain according to today’s outlook.  Fishing will be very good this week.

I talked to a lot of anglers yesterday who reported good fishing.  Clay Aalders and one of his buddies fished up high for brookies and did well.  Other anglers who stayed to fish after Troutfest reported good fishing.  It was tough last weekend due to high water and cool temperatures.  Most of the people I talked to who did have good fishing were on the smaller streams and especially the brookie water.  Those who fished the larger streams didn’t do all that well.

I would probably choose Elkmont or the Middle Prong of the Little River today.  But if you are willing to travel up 441 to Walker Camp Prong and it’s tributaries the water is in great shape and the brook trout will be willing.

Well, I said it would be slow today but I just got called downstairs to help some customers.  The shop is full of people.  This report will be late this morning.  Sorry. 

May has turned out so far to be a great month with sales about even with last year.  May 2008 was busy and we didn’t expect to come close.  But Troutfest was much larger than last year and that helped our business.

Tonight Herb Handly and I will go before the County Commission if called upon.  They are voting tonight to ratify the amended private act that will increase our hotel/motel tax by 1% and the funds will be used to buy the 10 acres next to the Visitors Center.  If you attended Troutfest it is the field with the red roofed barn.  The Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau will pay $1.4 million for the parcel.

I have been working on this for over 18 months with Herb.  Some of the owners of motels, cabin rental companies, lodges, campgrounds and bed & breakfasts were involved in the decision. 

We originally decided to buy 32 acres in the Spring of 2008.  But as the economy turned down everyone got nervous, including me.  And some people even forgot we were working on this.  In the end, a group of lodge, motel and cabin rental owners got together, met with the County Mayor and decided to buy the 10 acres instead of the 32.  This was a move that exposed the tourism industry to less risk. That was probably a smart move.  The remaining 22 acres is still on the market and I bet it will be for a while.  So we could buy it later.

There are a couple of people who are against this.  Many were for it.  A lot of people were asked to be part of the decision making process and didn’t participate.  I was in favor of doing it and it was my responsibility to run the stakeholder meetings and work with County Government.  I am acting on behalf of the Blount Chamber of Commerce as Chair of Tourism and Travel. 

Our bill to amend the private act was carried to the State of Tennessee House of Representatives in January.  It took forever.  The legislature is covered up with bills this year.  After it finally got through the House the bill went to the Senate.  We got the bill, signed by the Governor last week.

We have an option on the property which expired.  We asked that the option be extended and the sellers were willing.   That option expires June 1st and a yes vote in the County Commission tonight is critical.  To ratify the bill requires a 2/3 vote in favor of it.  My fingers are all crossed.  I’m sweating bullets and I’m barely getting over Troutfest right now. 

Tomorrow, Rufus King, Roy Roberts and I will pick up the night deposit bags from the bank. In those 6 locked bags are the proceeds from Troutfest.  We will count the money, post the revenue to the appropriate accounts and make the deposit.  Then we’ll pay the bills and have a total net profit for you. Then the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited will write a check to the National Park Fisheries Department.  Some of that money will be deposited in the fund held by Friends of the Smokies.  That is an endowment that is growing and used to pay for seasonal staff for the Fisheries Department.  I am anxious to see the final number.

The farmer across the road is baling hay.  So there are no visible cows.  The N/C on the left stands for “No Cows”.  Or it could mean “Nary a Cow”. Take your pick.

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

Byron Begley
May 21, 2009      


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