Townsend, Tennessee
June 7, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is 8:30 am on a Sunday morning and it is very foggy.  The fog is so thick I can barely see the buildings behind our shop.  Forget seeing the mountains for a while.  If Townsend had an airport there will be no flights coming or going this morning.  It’s dangerous enough driving a car with all four tires on the ground.

Tourist season has started.  It was very obvious to me when I drove home last night.  Where we live in Dry Valley we all wave at each other.  Most use the “Dry Valley Index Finger Wave”.  That is one finger lifted off the steering wheel.  George McCampbell waves with his whole hand when he drives by in his orange pickup truck with bullet holes in it.  George is extra friendly. 

Well now there are tourists on the road.  When you wave at them they look at you with a shocked or puzzled expression on their face.  Sometimes they veer off the road or even worse toward me.  Maybe they think I flipped them off.  Maybe they are not used to a stranger showing an expression of friendship.  This is a friendly place. 

Fishing is good but you must adapt to higher than normal flow.  The rivers and streams are not flooded or anything like that.  They are just higher than normal.  I talked to a guy who is obviously a good fisherman yesterday.  He said he only caught two trout in the Park but one was 12” and the other was 14”.  He was using streamers.  Nymphs should work well, get them into the best lies and get a good drift.  Evening hatches are good and trout will take your dry fly.  It’s going to be sunny today so if you go I would concentrate on the shady areas until the sun goes down. 

The fishing will get better as the week progresses unless we get more rain.  I’m hoping to float the lower section of Little River later in the week like we tried to do three days ago.  The water was high and muddy and we couldn’t go.  Our business has been very slow for the past 5 days.  It all has to do with weather.  Business will be down substantially the first week of June. 

Remember 1999?  It hasn’t been that long ago.  Many people thought that computers around the world would shut down on January 1st 2000.  It didn’t happen.  I’m working on projects that won’t even happen until next year, 2010.  Can you believe this decade will be over before we know it? 

Most of my volunteer work involves tourism.  And I’m racking my brain to think about what the second decade of the 21st Century will be like.  Planning for our County’s tourism industry is pretty much always on my mind.  I think about my friends and neighbors who rely on tourism for their living.  Many of them have most of their assets tied up in tourism related infrastructure.  I’m one of them though our business is more fishing related and regionally located.

Why is tourism important to Blount County?  Tourists spend $750,000 per day in our county.  Tourism saves every household in our County $486 per year.  Now, in Sevier County which includes Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville tourism saves each household $3,015.  Look at the property taxes in Sevier County.  They are almost nothing.  Tourism pays for many of the services that are usually picked up by towns and counties then charged back in the form of property taxes. 

Do we want that here?  No.  What we want is sustainable tourism, a business that does not ruin our heritage, landscape our quality of life.  Sustainable tourism must grow slowly and carefully with full cooperation from our residents and governments.

But, change is coming.  It is happening.  How will we react?  How well are we planning?  Things are changing so fast we can’t even comprehend it.  We are shocked by it. 

Think about last June 2008.  What if I wrote in this report a year ago that gasoline would be $5.00 per gallon?  OK, by June we might have seen that coming.  What if I said Leaman Brothers would go bankrupt and Barclays would take over their assets? You would think I was crazy.  What if I wrote “General Motors and Chrysler will be bankrupt in a year”?  What if I wrote that America would be building 500,000 homes this year instead of the usual 2 million.

If someone told me some of my friends would be unemployed I would not have believed it.  Well, all of this happened and more, in a short period of time, and probably in the long run it has been good for America, not good for everyone today but good for the future of us all.  We will adapt, we always have.  In the span of one or two years big things can happen, good and bad.  I believe the future of America is bright and we’ll look back on this as a wake up call.

But, we are going to change.  Our lifestyles will be different, not worse, just different and probably better.  Our companies will be lean.  They will either be profitable or go away.  Our vacations will be closer to home.  Our cars will be more fuel efficient.  Boats will be lighter and more efficient.  Batteries will be lighter and more efficient.  Computers will be smaller and faster.  The internet connections will get faster and less expensive so don’t sign any long term contracts.  Banks are more picky and their portfolios will be closely scrutinized by examiners.  A lot of money will be made in the markets, that has already happened.  Education is getting a wake up call.  We better produce more engineers, math majors and scientists if we want to beat India and China. 

Marketing, merchandising, transportation, utilities and leisure will become greener and people will expect and reward that. I believe the biggest change we will see in every aspect of our everyday lives is efficiency.  I’m planning and preparing for that.

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

Byron Begley
June 7, 2009

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