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 cloudy and 67 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was fairly light on my way to work.  Even in June, this is a quiet little town on weekdays.  Our temperatures have been very comfortable, especially in the evenings.  I was down at the barn early this morning, messing around with boat stuff.  All I heard were birds. 

Little River is flowing low again though there was a brief shower on the Middle Prong yesterday.  Chuck said the water became darker for a while.  I didn’t notice any significant change in the water flow of Little River on the charts this morning.

Flow in the river is currently 94 cubic feet per second, (cfs) or 1.52 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 164 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:10 am is 65.5 degrees.

I didn’t talk to any returning fishermen yesterday.  Lynn was in.  He was on his way to the mountains to fish.  Randy and Eric were in.  They fished day before yesterday.  Randy said the trout were where they always are. 

Fishing was very good this weekend.  Evening hatches have been excellent over the past few days.  Count on seeing lots of Yellow Sally Stoneflies, especially late in the day.  Trout are gorging those bugs down and coming back for more.

Probably the best rig to use right now is a Yellow Neversink Caddis with a Green Weenie dropper.  That’s probably all you will need.  The trout will take any reasonable offering but in the evenings, I would use the Yellow Sally Stonefly pattern.  Trout think the Neversink Caddis is a yellow stonefly.

A man was bitten by a venomous snake in a bathroom at the Cades Cove Campground this weekend.  I heard about it Saturday.  He was airlifted to UT hospital.  I saw a small article on the Daily Times Website this morning. The name of the victim and the species of the snake were not mentioned in the article. 

Rick Pope, who owns Temple Fork Fly Rods, told me he was bitten by a rattlesnake, on his back porch.  I think that happened maybe three years ago.  The attack occurred at night at his ranch in Texas.  He walked in the house, picked up his “night judge” and took care of the snake.  I can’t remember what happened after that.

Another good friend of mine was bitten on the arm by a copperhead while working in her garden.  She went to the hospital and was released.  Later, she had to be admitted.  The swelling got worse.  It took her a long time to get over it.  

We have very few snakebite events in the Smokies.  Frankly I’m surprised.  We’ve got plenty of rattlesnakes and copperheads.  I know people who work in the ER at the hospital and we have had several conversations about the subject.

There has been a lot of discussion about the future of trout stocking in Tennessee and other states.  Federal government agencies are discussing ways to cut costs.  Tennessee Valley Authority is taking public comments.  You can visit their website to make one.

I got on the site early this morning, looked at the comment page and didn’t know what to say.  I could have said, “I am a fisherman and don’t want the trout stocking funding cut”. 

That would not be a compelling argument so I refrained for the time being.

Cutting back or curtailing trout stocking in Tennessee would be a devastating blow to us as fishermen, our economy, tourism, our tax base, our TWRA agency, you name it, the list of reasons not to do it would be long.

You can read some of our message board member’s comments under the Tailwater Section.

I looked at the subject of “Fishing Participation” online.  According to “Fishing remains the most popular recreational activity in the country”.  They go on to say, “We’re extremely pleased to see for the first time in several years, more people coming into the sport than dropping out”. 

Visit this website!  Here is an interesting statement: “Findings also indicate that fly fishing has the greatest amount of interest among newcomers, while saltwater fishing holds the interest of participants from youth through adolescence”.

We need numbers to present a compelling argument against cutting funding for trout stocking.  We all need to know the numbers and use them. 

What does it cost to grow a trout?  Who is paying how much for the stocking?  How much do trout fishermen spend per day while fishing?  How much money is generated by trout stamps or the “all species” license sales?  How many are sold?  How does trout fishing in Tennessee affect our tax revenue, both state and local?  How many jobs does trout fishing create in Tennessee?  How much electric power is sold due to trout fishing in stocked tailwaters and reservoirs? How much does Tennessee receive from excise taxes for fishing and hunting programs? What portion of the total excise tax pool does Tennessee receive and why?

I just looked.  We sold 2,493 fishing licenses last year for a total of $58,469.50.  I remember when that number was $80,000.  I can assure you that most of those were sold to trout fishermen.  And, we are just one agent out of I don’t know how many in Tennessee.  We need to know how many TWRA license agents there are.  How many fishing licenses are sold online and what is the revenue from online license sales?

We need to work together to figure this out.  Decision makers listen to numbers.  Numbers make for a compelling argument because you can’t argue with the numbers.

The information is out there.  We just have to find it, and use it.  I’ve got a feeling, the money spent to stock our rivers, is a drop in the bucket when compared to the economic benefit derived from this sport.

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

Byron Begley
June 3, 2014

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