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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is raining and 68 degrees in Townsend this morning.  For the first time in a very long time, I’m glad it is raining.  We may get an inch of precipitation today.  The streams could use it.  From this point forward into the year, we need small rain events to sustain the flows in the Smoky Mountains.  We are getting that today.

We may have some thunderstorms today so be careful if you are fishing.  If that happens, go to the truck.  We may get 1” of rain today with locally heavier amounts in thunderstorms if they occur.

Little River is flowing at 128 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 169 cfs.  The water temperature this morning is 67.5 degrees.  The high water temperature yesterday peaked at 68 degrees.  We are going to enjoy a cooling off period.  Air temperatures are going to be near normal for the next few days. 

Fishing in the Smokies is very good.  The trout are active.  Some anglers say they are catching a lot of small trout.  That means, the streams are at carrying capacity.  There is not enough food in some streams or parts of streams to feed the fish population well.  Other angers are catching bigger fish.  They are probably fishing in areas that are not overpopulated.

Trout population density runs in cycles.  A flood or drought can decrease the number of fish in a given stream.  The next year, the trout are larger.  Long periods of normal flows and temperatures reduce the natural mortality of the fish and the population density increases.  When that happens we have more small fish.  The big ones are there.  The little trout beat the big ones to your fly.  Some of the big ones eat the little ones when they are chasing your fly.

One of our young customers and his fishing buddy stopped by the shop yesterday morning before going fishing on the Middle Prong.  A couple of hours later he returned and said he lost his favorite fly.  He was there to buy more.  I asked him about the fishing.  He said the trout are going crazy.  They are all over their flies.  My bad, I didn’t ask him what fly he was using.  I bet it was a Neversink Caddis.

Dry flies are working very well.  One angler told me yesterday he was fishing a dry and dropper.  The trout were hammering his dry fly.  He cut the dropper off to make life simpler.

I would use a Yellow Stimulator or Yellow Neversink Caddis.  I might use a Yellow Parachute Adams or any other Yellow Sally stonefly imitations.  And, I might use a Bead Head Pheasant Tail dropper.  I’ll be honest with you.  I think these trout will hit anything right now that looks like food.  Try a beetle.  The water temperature is warm enough that the trout’s metabolism is in very high gear.  They need food.  It sound like the trout were fighting for food yesterday.

I love it when trout are fighting over my fly.

Fishing might be excellent in the Smokes today.  It is overcast.

UPDATE 11:45 AM - We have had 2 1/2 inches of rain so far today since 7:30 am. The river levels are rising and the streams are turbid. I probably would not go fishing in the Smokies today, at least not in the Little River drainage.

UPDATE 1:45 PM - We have been getting pounded by rain. Now, we have 4 inches in our rain gauge. Little River's flow gauge is reading 2.85 feet and the water is rising quickly. Current flow is 581 cubic feet per second (cfs), the highest it has been on June 2nd in 48 years. The last record was set in 1974 at 550 cfs. I think the rain is about over.

If you planned to fish in a tailwater this afternoon, check the TVA website. Some generation schedules changed. They are probably generating at the tailwater you planned to fish.

Generation at Norris Dam is off at the moment.  TVA plans to generate 1 unit at 10:00 am.  Then, at 2:00 pm they plan to generate with 2 or more generators.  TVA is generating at Cherokee dam today, all day, as usual lately.  Generation schedules at Douglas dam don’t look very friendly to anglers either.  I guess you need to pick a freestone stream unless you are planning to fish from a boat.  Check TVA’s website yourself.  They may change their minds.

I talked to several anglers who fly fish for smallmouth bass in the lakes.  Their story is similar to mine.  High water, low water and cold water have messed us up so far.  We have not been able to anticipate the bass feeding or spawning schedule this year.  We can wait and fishing may get better in some of the lakes.  Or, we could move downstream to the warmer lakes and fish for largemouth bass and bluegill.  I like both of those options.  Paula and I will probably be fishing at the confluence of the Little Tennessee River and Tellico River on Tellico Lake this week.

Wow, somebody turned on the switch and we have been super-busy at the shop.  We’ve got the staff to handle the customers.  No problem there.  Now, we are adjusting our buying upwards.  Orders have been on hold until what has happened…happened.  I spent much of yesterday ordering fly tying materials.  We will be ordering more of about everything right now.  It usually takes a week to 10 days to re-stock the store. 

I have owned a small business continuously since 1973.  I opened a franchised quick print shop when I was 23 years old.  I’ve been in the fly fishing business now for 19 years.  This one is tough because every decision is dependent upon weather.  Weather defines the outcome of every decision.  Business is dead in the Winter.  It is cold.  Not many people fly fish.  We lose money.  Business is gangbusters in the Spring if the weather cooperates. 

Being in the mail order business complicates things.  Business could be slow in Tennessee but great in Alabama or Indiana.  Trout might be taking dry flies here in March here.  But it may be cold and dismal in Virginia or Ohio with no fly fishermen participating in the sport at that time.  You just never know exactly what to do.  Right now, business is excellent.  Next weekend, business could be slow.

One of the biggest defining factors this year in our area is the heavy generation schedules at dams.  Anglers who fly fish for trout have had a tough time finding a decent time to be on the water.  This year, the freestone streams were mostly high or blown out on weekends.  Most fishermen play on weekends.  If you look at today’s generation schedules you will see very few opportunities for the wading tailwater angler.  It has been that way often this year.  This is Sunday.  Most people are off on Sunday.

Some fly fishermen are very diverse and flexible.  If one trout fishery is off today, we can find something else to do.  Maybe we will fish for trout in the freestone streams.  Maybe we will fish for smallmouth bass in the lowland rivers.  Or, we may fish in the lakes.  Lake fishing often requires some kind of boat.  It could be a canoe or kayak.  It could be a jon boat or a bass boat.  When it gets hot and dry during the Summer we can fish in the tailwaters for trout.  We just need to be innovative. We need to get out and fish!

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

Byron Begley
June 2, 2013

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