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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is foggy and 65 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It feels great out there.  I don’t remember seeing the forest this lush.  Stuff is growing like crazy.  We have had rain, rain and more rain this year. 

Yesterday afternoon, a strong thunderstorm blew in.  We got .75” of rain in less than an hour.  The wind was blowing strong.  We heard rumors about a tornado watch or warning.  I looked at the National Weather Service website and did not see a warning.

Little River is flowing very strong.  Flow at 7:45 am is 980 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 3.48 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 160 cfs.  The water temperature is 60.3 degrees.

Last night, Little River peaked at 5.2 feet or approximately 2,500 cfs.  The water level is dropping fast.  I noticed a little color in the water in town earlier but the river is certainly not muddy.

The big question is, what’s the fishing going to be like now.  Well, the streams will continue to drop.  My best guess is, Little River will be at 3.0 feet or lower on the gauge sometime tomorrow.  That is just a guess.  Many unknown factors play into this scenario. Little River is on the high side of good at 2.5 feet. 

On June 8th Little River peaked at 3.5 feet and was down to 2.5 feet on the 10th.  The water dropped 1 foot in approximately 48 hours. On June 3rd the river peaked near 3.5 feet.  By midnight on June 5th it was down to 2.0 feet.  The river dropped 1.5 feet in 48 hours. There is no rain in the forecast until Sunday and the chances are low on that day.

If you plan to fish in the Park today or tomorrow, choose a small stream and better yet, one in the backcountry.  Hike above Elkmont.  Cataloochee looks good right now.  The storm must have been less severe there.  The water is down to about where it started yesterday morning.  You may find other streams in the Smokies that were missed by this storm yesterday.  Oconoluftee River seems to have been spared the heavy rain.  So, now I’m thinking the North Carolina side may be your best choice.

If you want to fish a larger stream, use big nymphs and get them down.  Use a high-sticking technique.  You may catch the trout of a lifetime.

I think nymph fishing is in order today with the higher than normal water.  You should be able to fish close.  Don’t wade deep.  Stay close to the bank unless you find a stream that is not flowing high.

Tellico River is not much higher than it was yesterday morning.  I bet the fishing in the Cherokee National Forest is great.  Try North River.

The tailwaters in our area appear to be generating all day today.  Don’t take my word for it.  Check the TVA website.

The lowland rivers are running strong and I bet they are all muddy around here.

Lake fishing is awesome right now.  Bass are on the banks and taking topwater flies.  Try a Knucklehead or Stealth Bomber bass fly.  Try some Black Wooly Buggers.  Give some Puglisi Threadfin Shad patterns a try. 

Jack Gregory came by yesterday and we talked about fly fishing for smallmouth bass like we usually do.  What is happening right now in our lakes usually happens a month earlier.  Much higher than normal rainfall has caused TVA to generate more at the dams.  The water temperature has been cold.  Smallmouth bass behavior has been unpredictable.  So, it’s mid-June and we are using tactics we normally use in mid-May. 

Like Jack said yesterday, “I’d rather have high streams and low streams”.   He is right.  Changing tactics to deal with high water is a lot more fun that trying to fish when Little River is running at 60 cfs.  Our high water is also good for the fishery.  The trout are getting plenty of well oxygenated and cool water to live in.  They are much happier and healthier.

The Park Service Fisheries Department crew and volunteers are scheduled to conduct population sampling on Lynn Camp Prong beginning Monday.  They will sample many sites on that stream to determine the population counts of the brook trout.  I think this is a 3 day project.

Biologists don’t like to sample high water.  They don’t get accurate results and wading is difficult. If the water is discolored, that makes the job even more difficult and less accurate.  Rain is expected on Monday.  If you are a volunteer who is planning to work on the Lynn Camp Prong project next week, keep an eye on the weather and stay in touch with your volunteer coordinator.  This could be postponed.

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

Byron Begley
June 14, 2013

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