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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 67 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I drove to work at 7:45 am and there was a lot of human activity around town.  People were jogging, riding bicycles and driving on the streets. 

The one thing I forgot to do this morning is to look at Little River.  Our boat was in tow and I was just thinking about getting to work.  I do know this.  Little River is still flowing high.  Flow is currently 616 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.91 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 137 cfs.  The water temperature is 60.1 degrees at 7:45 am. 

You are probably wondering what to do this weekend about fishing here.  So am I.  I think the river will drop to 2.4 feet by Saturday or maybe tomorrow.  That is the level we consider on the “high side of good”.  What I don’t know is how much if any rainfall we will get over the next few says.  There is a chance for scattered showers every day for the next several days.  That chance is 20% to 30%.  That’s kind of normal.  Those should be afternoon thunderstorms that are scattered.  Temperatures will range from lows in the 60’s to highs in the 80’s.

There should be fishable water in the Smokies this weekend.  There is fishable water in the Smokies right now.  But, the water is higher than normal.  Normal at this time of year is low.  It is Summer.  This is a good thing!

I would use dry flies unless the water levels are higher or stained.  Our choices for this time of year have not changed in a while.  Choose a Parachute Adams, Yellow Stimulator or Yellow Neversink Caddis.  For subsurface angling, use a Bead Head Pheasant Tail or Green Weenie.  An ant or beetle pattern would also be a good idea. 

Due to high water in the lakes, TVA is generating at the dams in our area often.  It looks like they will be generating all day at Cherokee, Douglas and Norris dams today.  You should check the TVA website to get the latest generation schedules for all dams under their jurisdiction.  Hopefully, we will have some no-flow times this weekend on the tailwaters in our area.

Fishing is so unpredictable and un-explainable.  Last week, Paula and I had two days of some remarkable fly fishing for smallmouth bass.  It was a good as it gets.  So, I called my buddy Frank in Kentucky and told him he should come down here this week to fish.  He did and we were on the river yesterday morning.  We launched the boat at 6:15 am.

We fished 8 hours.  He caught 3 smallmouth bass and a largemouth bass.  I caught one smallmouth bass.  We were using Byron’s Knuckleheads and Wooly Buggers on 6 weight fly rods.  Fishing was painfully slow, exactly one week after Paula and I caught around 60 or more smallies in two days.  She and I only fished about 4 hours each day.

What a difference a week makes.  I could only find one possibly explainable difference.  When Paula and I launched in the mornings, the surface water temperature was 74 degrees.  When Frank and I launched yesterday morning, the surface temperature was 69 degrees.  All the other anglers we talked to yesterday said the fishing was extremely slow.  Some people got skunked.

I wanted Frank to have a great day so I ran the trolling motor from the stern and he was fishing in the bow of the boat. 

We still had a great time.  We have been buddies since 1957 when we started the first grade together. All we really care about is being together but a big day of fly fishing would have been nice.

Next week, we are going to fish way downstream where the Tellico River meets the Little Tennessee River.  The water will be warmer down there.  I think the fishing will be much better.  But like I said, fishing is unpredictable and un-explainable. 

I don’t think there is any doubt that fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains will be better than I can remember this Summer.  The rain that has caused our streams to be high much of the year so far will be a blessing in July and August.  The aquifer is brimming with water.  If you look at the flow graphs you can see that the water drops slowly after our frequent rain events. 

If you check out the rainfall totals at the Knoxville Airport you will see that we have had 38.31 inches of precipitation this year.  Normal for this period is 23.78 inches.  Last year at this point we had 24.76 inches which was a little above normal.

The brook trout sampling at Lynn Camp Prong was postponed by the Park Service biologists this week due to high water.  Teams were ready to go starting Monday morning.  The project was called off Sunday night.

Lynn Camp Prong is the largest brook trout restoration project the Park Service has done in the Smokies.  Sampling is a term used to describe capturing all the fish in a given area or several areas of a river and counting them.  Biologists can determine the population based on sampling the same areas each year.  At issue now is, when will Lynn Camp Prong be opened to anglers?  We are hoping for this year of course. 

This stream is located very close to Townsend.  It is a large tributary to the Middle Prong of the Little River.  Before the rainbow trout were removed, it was my favorite stream in the Smokies.  You could almost always catch plenty of rainbow trout without a lot of effort and it is beautiful.  The stream has been closed to fishing for a few years so the brook trout population can become sustainable.

The total length of this stream and the tributaries that are considered fishable is about 9 miles in total length.  Lynn Camp Prong is a mid-elevation stream.  Having a brook trout stream that large and this close to home is a dream come true for many of us.  We are all anxious to see the results from this sampling.  Biologists plan to try again next week.

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

Byron Begley
June 20, 2013

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