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 a cool 60 degrees this morning.  When I walked out the door to start my morning commute, I wanted to go fishing instead.  Traffic was very light at 7:50 am.  I waved to Frank.  He’s a great guy.  Frank is a retired State Trooper and is one of our fine police officers. He works hard too.  He likes chasing speeders.  I asked him one time what he likes best about his job.  He said “It’s the chase.” Unless you know him well, you never know when to take him seriously.  His sense of humor is near the top of my list.  If you drive through town with the pedal to the metal, you will take Frank seriously.  He writes tickets, lots of tickets.

I pulled in the parking lot at the shop and there, parked in it’s usual place, hoping to be hooked up to my truck was our boat.  I really want to go fishing. I’ll have to wait until Thursday, my day off.

Little River is flowing beautifully through town at a rate of 173 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 163 cfs.  The water temperature is 59 degrees this morning.  Yesterday the temperature peaked at 63.3 degrees.  Perfect on all counts.

Fishing is excellent in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Trout are taking dry flies like candy.  My choice would be a #14 or #16 Neversink Caddis and make it yellow.  Below that, drop a bead head nymph if you want to.  The nymphs could be a Prince, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Copper John or Tellico.  Whatever you use, you are probably going to catch trout. Fishing is better early and late.

You probably wont do as well on the East Prong along the road unless you go early or late.  There are too many people doing other stuff in the river.  Hike back into the woods a ways.  The Middle and West Prongs of Little River are fishing extremely well.  Fishing is great above Elkmont too.  You probably want to get out of there before 5:00 pm.  The firefly viewers will be arriving by the bus loads.  Camping at Elkmont would be a good idea.  I’m sure the campground is full so trying that now would be a disappointing endeavor. 

Fishing in the lowland rivers exiting the Park for smallmouth bass and rock bass is a good idea.  Some of those rivers may still be a little off color.  Bass are taking poppers, Stealth Bombers and Knuckleheads.  A lot of the warmwater anglers I know are making Block Heads.  I plan to order some Blockhead heads today.  We sell Blockheads in the shop and they are selling well.  I like making my own poppers and I’m working diligently every night doing just that.

Last night I tied some chartreuse Knuckleheads on a #4 stinger hook.  I usually tie them on a #6.  With these I probably won’t catch many bluegill.  But, I made the bodies larger and these are for bass.  For some reason, white, chartreuse and yellow foam is denser than black.  Those colors float higher than black.  I think they can easily handle the extra weight of the #4 hook.

Largemouth bass and bluegill fly fishing is hot!  They are both slurping poppers right now.  I did not have a very good smallmouth bass year on the Little Tennessee.  That’s a tricky place to fish, the fish population density is low due to the lack of nutrients and the water is clear.  Sometimes the fishing is good and very often it is not.  We never figured out the spawning cycle or the post spawning feeding frenzy.  For us, and I’m talking about a handful of friends who do this, it has been a slow Spring for smallies.  The rivers and tailwaters have been fishing pretty well.

We are holding a Troutfest 2012 critique meeting this afternoon at 2:00.  I hope we’ll hear the attendance, revenue and profit numbers.  Then we will decide the future of Troutfest.  I won’t be involved in that decision.  We are planning our own events at the store for next year and I won’t have time to work on Troutfest again.  We held special events at the shop during the best years. The economy has had a profound effect on the fly fishing business. I'm going to do everything I can to improve ours.  

I served as Troutfest Chair for three years.  That and working here in May is too much for me physically.  I am 61 years old, I work 60 to 70 hours per week and I’m cutting back on my volunteer time to concentrate on our store.  But, the Troutfest Committee is loaded with talent, enthusiasm and brain power.  Whatever they decide to do will be great and successful. 

I will be part of a small group that will work on sustaining and growing the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  Right now, we have a shortage of up and coming leadership.  I’ve heard we actually have no up and coming leadership.  We are really concerned, so much in fact that we are holding a meeting with a small group of former leaders and a professional facilitator to plan the future.  Without leadership our Chapter can’t exist.  This is a crucial time.  I was the founding President of the Chapter and started that work almost two decades ago.  I don’t know when that meeting will be held.  They say sometime in late June.  I hope it’s not when I’m on vacation.

This is a beautiful day and you should go fishing.  I’ll be thinking about you while I’m here working on our new website. It is looking good. My goal now is to launch in July or August.

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

Byron Begley
June 3, 2012

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