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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 64 degrees in Townsend this morning.  We got another ¾ inch of rain last night.  That’s two days in a row.  The grass in town is very green.  All of the plant life is lush.  This is a year when so far our rainfall is up over 55% from normal.  Though that has made it tough for anglers, it will be a blessing for the rest of the year. 

Little River is flowing at 307 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.28 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 193 cfs.  The river in town is slightly stained and the water temperature at 7:45 am was 61.8 degrees.

The streams in the Smoky Mountains are probably higher than most anglers prefer.  They will recede soon.  The chance for rain diminishes as we move further to Memorial Day Weekend.  Fly fishing should be great this weekend.  It is going to be cooler.  High temperatures are going to be in the low 70’s this weekend.  Lows will be in the 40’s and 50’s. 

Fishing is very good in the Smokies.  The conditions are excellent.  You may encounter some stained water this morning but that should clear up later today.

Trout are taking Yellow Sally stonefly and Light Cahill dry fly patterns.  That’s what I would start with.  Try a #16 Yellow Stimulator, #16 Neversink Caddis, #16 Yellow Parachute Adams or any other Yellow Sally stonefly pattern.  A Light Cahill dun or parachute style dry fly will work.  A regular Parachute Adams, Olive, Yellow or Tan Elk Hair Caddis are other options.  And, don’t forget the Mr. Rapidan for those brookies.  A Bead Head Pheasant Tail will work as a nymph dropper or fished alone.  You can click on the fly patterns below to read more about the fly or buy them online.

The lowland rivers are probably all stained today.  I know Little River and Abrams Creek are.  I’m guessing by looking at the flow chart for the Little Pigeon that it is probably stained too.

Paula and I fished the Little Tennessee River yesterday.  They were generating at all the dams.  While we were there, the water was low and very cold, 50 degrees.  The smallmouth bass fishing was slow yesterday.  The fishing was good there day before yesterday.  I broke off one really nice smallmouth after switching to 6 pound tippet.  I don’t think I’ll do that again.  I always use 8 pound or 3X tippet and don’t break off that many bass.

We were fishing in a creek yesterday.  About 100 feet from our boat a nice smallmouth bass was chasing threadfin shad on the surface.  While we watched, amazed and speechless, a huge bald eagle swooped down and caught that bass. 

Ronnie was fishing in the same cove day before yesterday.  He said an eagle (probably the same one) was perched in a tree.  Ronnie caught a large shellcracker.  He said the bird paid close attention to him fighting the fish.  He thumped the fish on the head and threw it back in the water.  The shellcracker was floating on the water.  Sure enough, that eagle flew down and grabbed the shellcracker just like Ronnie thought it would do. We ran into Ronnie yesterday and we both recounted our eagle stories.

We live in an amazing place.  Living in a wilderness area has its advantages, especially viewing wildlife.  We see a lot of black bears.  They are common.  I’m sure wild turkeys outnumber people in our valley.  River otters live here.  Ospreys nest where we fish.  We see them every time we go fishing.  And these days, bald eagle sightings are getting more common.

We were driving down the river with the boat wide open yesterday.  An osprey was flying overhead and we were going right toward the bird.  The osprey defecated in mid air.  I knew it was going to come close to hitting us but didn’t know what to do with the boat to avoid being hit with osprey crap.  Luckily it missed us by a good 50 feet, maybe more.  You don’t want to be pooped on by an osprey.  On a good day, when an osprey takes a dump, I bet it would fill a coffee cup.  They are big birds. Paula was looking back at me and didn’t see what was coming.  I did not tell her what was possibly going to be hitting us.  Some things are just best left to chance.

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

Byron Begley
May 23, 2013

Smoky Mountain Fly Patterns for May


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