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 overcast and 66 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I noticed the Antique Tractor Club was setting up for a show at the Visitors Center.  This is not a huge show but certainly something you should see if you are in town today. I love old tractors and I really enjoy talking to the collectors.

Little River is flowing at 165 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.71 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 198 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:05 am is 63 degrees.

A bad thunderstorm missed us by a few feet last night.  I mean it was close.  The National Weather Service suggested we might have golf ball size hail.  Can you imagine what that would be like?  I watched the storm move in on radar on Wunderground.  That cell barely nicked the circle with an X in it identifying Townsend.  People to our South must have had an awful evening.

Fly fishing in the Smokies has been excellent and that should continue.  We have a chance for scattered thunderstorms this morning.  Once that passes, conditions should be awesome.  We may have some clouds today, which will be helpful to anglers.

The water is clear and fairly low in the mountains. The water isn’t that low, just lower than it was in the early Spring.  Low water comes during the Summer.  Little River is flowing at almost normal.  You could not tell the difference.

Fishing lower water flows requires stealth.  Low, clear water adds a whole new challenge to our sport.  Learning to catch trout when they are spooky and trying to hide from predators is fun and very satisfying.

Believe me, you can do it.  Cloud cover like we should have today makes it easier.  You won’t find trout swimming around in the slow pools.  They are too wary for that.  The fish will be hiding behind rocks and other flow breaks.  There, they will dart out and grab a meal.  Some trout will be in the deep runs.  You may need to use weighted nymphs to get down to them.  You will do better fishing shaded areas.  Trout are more comfortable there and more willing to take chances.

Fishing early and late will pay off.  When the sun is blocked by mountains, that’s the best time to fish this time of year.

Dry Flies are working well.  You will do well with any Yellow Sally Stonefly pattern.  That could be a Yellow Neversink Caddis, Yellow Stimulator, Yellow Elk Hair Caddis or a number of other yellow patterns.  Even a yellow Parachute Adams works well this time of year.  You should have some Light Cahills in your box or tied on. 

For nymphs, try a Green Weenie or the pink version.  They are an amazing fly.  The little loop tied in the back of the fly gives it more action.  Also, give Pheasant Tail or Tellico Nymphs a try.  You will catch trout on them.

I liken fishing in clear water to turkey hunting.  You need to blend in with your surroundings and stay low and hidden.  Try not to wade very much.  If you do that, your success rate will increase dramatically.  Anglers who fish the Smokies regularly know it.  It is a proven fact.

The same holds true when fishing out of a boat.  More important than camo is noise control.  You can cast far from a boat.  But, if you bang something on the aluminum hull or seat, the game is over until you move somewhere else.  I know for a fact, when I fish with quiet people in our aluminum boat, we catch fish.  When I fish with noisy people, we don’t do well at all.  Noise travels far in the water.  Noise spooks smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and even bluegill.  Fishing is like turkey hunting. 

I noticed again yesterday, our readers are reading about Sand Shrimp, my favorite saltwater fly.  There is a short “how to” on this website under the menu item, Fly Tying Tutorials.  This fly is so easy to tie and it works so well.  I tied two last night.  I can’t wait to get back to Florida this Fall.  I’m preparing for that.

I’m switched back to warmwater fishing.  Paula and I plan to fish on the lakes at least one day next week, maybe two.  This is prime time on the lakes around here. 

I’m ready to explore new lakes in the area.  I think we have 8 or 9 nearby.  To do that safely, we need a chart plotter on the boat.  I’ve looked at them and I chose a Lowrance. 

Marty from North Carolina sent me some new lake maps yesterday.  Thank you Marty!  One of them is Fort Loudoun Lake on the Tennessee River.  It’s not far from here.  I’ve never fished there.  I understand the milfoil is back and offering cover for bass.  Bass fishing with a fly rod is a great sport.  Another lake just a short drive from here is Cherokee.  Everybody talked about Cherokee Lake when I was a kid.  We’ve got Douglas and Norris nearby. 

I just don’t like fishing a new lake that I’m not sure what I can hit with the boat or motor.  A chart plotter will solve that problem.

Paula and I have spent a lot of time fly fishing at Dale Hollow Lake.  We’ve made several week-long trips there.  We rent a cabin and dock the boat in a covered slip at the marina.  Dale Hollow still holds the world record smallmouth bass designation.

We like Tellico Lake but we don’t know much about the lower end.  We have a boat launch membership at Tellico Marina, which is a super place to visit.  The lake is beautiful down there and the fishing is excellent.  If you want to give that area a try, talk to the folks at the marina and get a pass to use their facilities.  I think the annual cost is $50.  It takes us about 50 minutes to get there from our house.

We have so many fly fishing opportunities here.  There are over 800 miles of wild trout fishing in the Park which I can see from my window here and at home.  There are several free flowing lowland rivers, too many to mention.  We have the lakes and the tailwaters below which offer excellent trout, smallmouth, largemouth and bluegill fly fishing.  Most lakes have stripers, big ones, that can be caught on a fly.  Melton Hill has is a musky lake.  Several lakes have trout populations.  I can’t think of a better place to spend the rest of my life.

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

Byron Begley
May 23, 2014

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