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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is windy, overcast and 78 degrees this morning in Townsend at 7:50 am.  78 degrees?  I thought my old truck was lying to me.  It’s true. I verified the temperature online. 

Little River is flowing high for this time of year.  Actually, it’s been that way almost all year.  Rainfall totals are still running 58% above normal for the year.

Flow is currently 411 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.52 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 165 cfs.  The water temperature is 62.5 degrees.

Fishing in the Smoky Mountains is great.  You may find the water higher than you prefer.  The up side is, you can fish closer and get a better drift.  The trout won’t be as spooky as they are when the water is low.  The down side is, you are limited on where you can wade in some areas.  I would rather have high water than low water during the Summer.  Though this will be remembered as a unique fishing year due to the weather, I believe it will also be known as a great fishing year in the Smoky Mountains.

Trout are taking dry flies well.  We are still recommending a small Yellow Stimulator, Yellow Neversink Caddis, Parachute Adams and Light Cahills.  They are working.  You might also consider using a terrestrial such as an ant, beetle or Green Weenie.  Nymphs will work too and you might catch larger trout on subsurface flies.  With the higher water, the trout are happier, less spooky and due to the water temperature they are very hungry.

The tailwaters are fishing well if you can time your fishing day with a decent generation schedule.  Right now, TVA is planning to generate all day at Norris Dam, Cherokee Dam and Douglas Dam.  Please check the generation schedules yourself before making a decision.  One of my friends was stranded on Millers Island due to an unexpected generation on the Clinch River this week.  He had to be rescued by the Norris fire department.  Be careful!

The lowland rivers should be fishing well today.  Wading may be difficult in places.  Floating will be perfect.  Little River is clear in town and probably the same downstream to a point.  I don’t know about the Little Pigeon.  Abrams Creek is clear. Josh Pfeiffer reported muddy water on the lower tailwaters and lowland rivers two days ago. He is a smallmouth bass guide and he is encountering tough fishing conditions too. Maybe they have cleared by now. You can visit his website by CLICKING HERE to get a current update.

“A blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while.”

That’s what Walter Babb says. 

Due to excessive rain, high water and lots of generation at dams, we have had a terrible year trying to figure out the smallmouth bass on the Little Tennessee River.  I’m not just talking about me.  I am talking about people who are experts.  This is getting frustrating.

I got two days off this week, which is unusual.  Paula and I decided to go fishing for smallmouth bass.  Until last week we were seeing water temperatures in the low 50’s to low 60’s.  Fishing has been very slow.  We had made up our mind to start fishing way down stream where the Tellico River and Little Tennessee merge which is near Fort Loudoun State Park on Tellico Lake.  There, the water should be warmer and the bass more active.

We planned to fish Tuesday and Wednesday.  At the last minute we decided to give the upper river one more try.  I’m glad we did.

We launched and the water temperature on our depth finder indicated 74 degrees early Tuesday morning.  That was a big surprise.  We started fishing the banks right away.  On my second cast I caught a nice smallie on a black Knucklehead.  On Paula’s third cast, she caught a really nice fish.  Fishing was unbelievable.  When the sun started shining on the water, the topwater bite stopped.  We could have tied on Wooly Buggers and fished deeper but we didn’t.  We called it a day at noon.

We were back on the river at 7:00 am yesterday.  Everything was the same as the day before.  I was surprised how close we could get to the bank in our boat without spooking the fish.  We watched as smallmouth bass looked at our flies.  We saw them refuse our flies and we saw them take the flies.  I used a black Knucklehead both days almost exclusively.

Paula kept count of the bass she caught yesterday.  She landed 15.  She said I caught more.  I don’t keep track.  She had a couple of bluegill and I don’t know for sure if she counted those.  We also caught a couple of largemouth bass.

Let’s say we caught 30 smallies.  That was between 7:15 and 11:00 am when they stopped biting on the surface.  That is 225 minutes.  And that equates to landing a bass every 7.5 minutes.  At one point we had a double, both of us fought and landed a bass at the same time.  All the bass yesterday were caught on Knuckleheads.  Paula used a yellow one that I tied.  I can’t believe yellow worked.

Fishing like this doesn’t happen often for us.  I remember one day 3 or 4 years ago, Jack Gregory and I caught 83 smallmouth bass.  We returned the next week and caught 62.  They were all caught on top.  Then, it was over for the year.  After that we caught a few on top and a few down deeper on streamers.

I think the bass spawn, and from what I’ve read, they rest for a few days.  Then, they go on a feeding spree.  Jack and I were there for that and it lasted all day each time because it was cloudy.  Jack and I talked last night about this.

Paula and I found the same feeding going on, but the sun was not blocked by clouds and the feeding on top was over in 2 or 3 hours. 

I am hoping this great fishing lasts for another week.  Right now, smallmouth bass fishing using a fly rod and a surface fly is as good as it gets.  It should be excellent on the lowland rivers and the tailwaters.  You can see 3 pictures we took over the past 2 days below.

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

Byron Begley
June 13, 2013

Paula Begley holding a nice smallmouth bass caught on June 11, 2013 while fly fishing on an area lake..

Byron Begley reaching for a landing net while fighting a smallmouth bass on June 11, 2013.

Paula Begley with a large smallmouth bass she caught on June 12, 2013 while fly fishing near Townsend, Tennessee

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