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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is overcast right now and 67 degrees.

Yesterday, a storm hovered over our town and in parts of Great Smoky Mountains National park.  We got .60 inches of rain in our gauge.  After the shower, the air was cool.  It was very comfortable on our tree deck last night. 

The water temperature in Little River dropped slightly.  This morning it is 69 degrees.  Flow spiked up too, briefly.  Flow is currently 77 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.44 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 134 cfs.

I heard some reports yesterday, of decent fishing on the Middle Prong of Little River. I still believe you will do best, moving up to the higher elevations to fish.  My favorite spot when the water is low and warm is the East Prong above Elkmont and it’s tributaries. 

You might also drive past Elkmont to Sugarlands Visitors Center, turn right and head toward Newfound Gap.  As you gain elevation of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, you will eventually find colder water and good fishing.  Many of the tributaries are cold and offer good rainbow and brook trout fishing.

The trout are hungry.  We are approaching Summer.  Numbers of aquatic insects are going to be lower than they were this Spring.  Terrestrials such as ants and beetles become a more important food source for trout.  Yellow Sally Stoneflies will be on the water in the evenings along with other insects. 

I would either use a yellow dry fly that looks something like a small stonefly or a black beetle.  Yellow jackets and bees might work.  They both seem to be plentiful and very active right now.  Our best selling dry fly right now is the Yellow Neversink Caddis.  It works.  Second would be the green or pink Weenie.  The Pink Weenie is an awesome fly to use for brook trout.  I don’t know why.  It just works.

Trout Camp at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute is over.  The kids left yesterday.  This camp is a project of the Tennessee Council of Trout Unlimited.  I think they had 12 kids this year ranging in ages from 12 to 15 years old.

The instructors are TU members.  The Institute is an education facility with a full time staff.  They house and feed the students.  They employ professional counselors. The facility is located right on the Middle Prong of the Little River.  It is also referred to as Tremont though the town of Tremont actually existed upstream at the confluence of Thunderhead Prong and Lynn Camp Prong. 

I hope this camp continues.  The volunteers work hard to put this on.  The boys and girls benefit from a week of instruction in fishing, fly fishing, fly tying, aquatic entomology and biology.  It is a very important function of Trout Unlimited. 

Some local people refer to the Middle Prong of Little River as Tremont. Others refer to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute as being at Tremont.  Tremont was a logging town and as I mentioned earlier, it located further upstream.  You can read more about this town on Wikipedia here

I know people whose ancestors lived there.  I’ve been told there was a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at Tremont.  I’ve seen some ruins way up Lynn Camp Prong that people tell me were left over from the old CCC camp.  Maybe there was one at the town too.  I don’t know for sure.

You can check this page on the CCC Legacy website.  It lists all CCC Camps in Tennessee.  We had several in this area.  This is an interesting website.  You can dig into the information and learn more about the camps around here.  The CCC did a lot of work, building structures, including stone bridges in the Great Smoky Mountains. The dam at Laurel Lake was built by the CCC.

The old road, that settlers in Cades Cove used to travel to Townsend runs within a few hundred feet of our house.  The middle of the road is our property boundary line.  Our boat is parked next to that road right now.  Our barn is about 200 feet from it.

The road crossed Short Creek that runs through our property.  Just upstream, is an old mill dam.  The mill was used to grind corn.  People riding horses or in wagons had to ford Short Creek below the dam.  There was never a bridge according to local people I have talked to.  We can see the mountains from the back side, that you see when you visit Cades Cove.

The water temperature stays around 58 degrees year round in Short Creek, which is perfect for trout habitat.  I was in my 30’s when I bought this property and had no idea what I would ever do with it.  I lived in Nashville at the time.        
I bought the property in the late 80’s.  I bought it mainly because it had a year round flowing spring creek.  My buddy Frank and I bought some deer feeders with battery powered timers.  He made some changes in the design so trout food would drop directly down when the things went off.  We hung two of them over the creek and the bears never got them.  I was usually here at least once a month so I kept them filled with food.  The trout grew to be huge, 20 to 22 inches long.

He and I camped here often back in those days.  The timers were set to feed the trout in the mornings and evenings.  We would go down and watch before they feeders dropped the food.  The trout were trained.  They would fight for position.  They knew exactly what time the feeders would drop the food in the water.  When it happened, those fish went crazy.  As the floating food drifted downstream we would see trout sipping the pellets from the surface.  Then, a few minutes later, the second feeder located downstream would drop some more food.   

The water temperature stays around 58 degrees year-round which is perfect for trout habitat.  I was in my 30’s when I acquired property and had no idea what I would ever do with it.  I lived in Nashville at the time.  Eventually I built a home there and the rest is history.  Paula and I married and we live right there on that property I was lucky enough to find and purchase.

I really never thought I would actually live in Townsend. I also never seriously thought about owning a fly shop. I dreamed about both, often. Sometimes, dreams come true. We've been operating this fly shop for 19 years. I've lived here over 22 years. It's hard to believe sometimes.

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

Byron Begley
June 22, 2014   

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