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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  I came to work at 7:15 am.  Sunday is a busy day for me.  I do yesterday’s deposit, make the journal entries, run payroll, enter bills to be paid and pay bills that are due two weeks from now.  That’s what I do every Sunday.

It is foggy and 64 degrees.  There were only a few cars on the roads at this time of morning.  Townsend is peaceful right now.  I thought Little River looked awesome.  There is plenty of water.  I was somewhat surprised at the number of fly fishermen who fished in the Park yesterday.  The water was really high then.  And, some of those I talked to caught some trout.  Bill Boyd caught 12 on the Middle Prong.  There were others.

When the water is high you have to pick your spots and don’t wade deep.  You can get closer to the trout when the water is high.  High sticking is all you need to do.  You can catch fish just a few feet away.  Trout love this higher water.  Right now, they need food.

Little River is flowing at 490 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.68 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 147 cfs.  The water temperature is 60.1 degrees.  That is perfect.  Fishing will be good today in the Smokies.  The water is going to be higher than some of you like but give it a try.  You might start liking higher water.  Just be careful wading.  Don’t go deep. 

Some streams were blown out yesterday and others were not.  The higher elevation creeks were very high according to folks I talked to.  I would choose a medium elevation, lower gradient, and smaller stream today.

Due to all the rain we have had, I don’t remember the forest being this lush before.  It is really pretty out there.

Let’s look at the tailwaters.  TVA will be generating at Cherokee Dam with one unit from 10:00 am until 11:00 am, then they will turn on more until 11:00 pm. That doesn’t look like a good option today.  They will be generating at Douglas Dam all day starting at 9:00 am.  TVA plans to flush through one generator from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm at Norris Dam.  Then, they plan to crank it up.  Please check the TVA website yourself.  Things change.

Rufus, one of my fly fishing buddies came by yesterday.  We like to fly fish for smallmouth bass.  We also target anything that swims in warm water or cool water.  I told Rufus about Tellico Marina and he drove down there yesterday to buy a membership.  I plan to do that this week too.  We are going to start fishing where the Tellico River and the Little Tennesse River merge. 

The Tellico River arm is more fertile than the Little Tennessee River.  Tellico River runs through farms to reach the backwaters of Tellico Lake.  The Little Tennesse River comes out of the mountains.  There’s not much farming going on in the mountains.  Nutrients produce good threadfin shad populations and better fishing overall. Cattle and other livestock provide nutrients needed to grow abundant forage fish.  Threadfin shad are filter feeders.  They eat plankton.  Plankton eats cow manure. 

I grew up on a farm in Kentucky.  On the farm we raised horses and cattle.  Runoff from the livestock waste eventually found it’s way to our ponds.  I had many ponds to choose from if I wanted to go fishing.  Those ponds were fertile, at times too fertile.  But, they were full of big bass and big bluegill. 

I got my first fly rod and fly tying kit on my 11th birthday in 1962.  I remember tying streamers on that day and walking to a pond to try them out.  I couldn’t cast very well but I started catching bass immediately.  So began my journey into fly fishing.  It has been and still is a wonderful life.  My life revolves around fly fishing, probably more than anyone you know.  I’ve been fly fishing 53 years. 

I know one person who spends most of his waking hours doing something connected to fly fishing.  That would be Walter Babb.  He has been fly fishing longer than I have.  He also remembers everything he has learned.  I don’t know anyone with a better recall of fly fishing facts than Walter. 

Lefty Kreh is that way too.  Lefty is very intelligent, like Walter.  They are both good friends of mine.  I respect their knowledge equally well. 

And then there is Jack Gregory.  Jack is a fly fisherman, period.  Jack can fly fish as good as anyone I know.  He always catches a lot more fish than I do.  He also works at it harder than I do.  Jack never stops fishing.  He understands fish.  He knows what his fly is doing under the water.  He sees fish better than anyone I know.  That guy can cast!

He and I started fly fishing for tarpon together.  I had been doing it for a few years before Jack started.  The first day we went tarpon fishing together, he was already better at it than I was.  That’s Jack.

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

Byron Begley
June 9, 2013

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