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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and 71 degrees this morning.  The fog is lifting and I am beginning to see the outline of mountains from my window.  The taller mountains are obscured from my view by the fog.  It is going to be a hot 91 degrees today.  And it looks like we are in for more of the same for the next 10 days.  We did get a little rain last night, about a tenth of an inch. 

Little River is flowing at 83 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 151 cfs.  The water temperature was 70.5 degrees at 7:50 am. 

Fishing in the Smokes is tough in the lower elevations.  The water is low and warm.  You will find cooler water higher up in the mountains and some backcountry streams that are very shaded will be cooler.  But the water is low and the fish are spooky.  Fish the pockets behind rocks and the rougher water where a riffle enters a pool.  The trout will be packed into those places seeking refuge from predators.  You have got to be sneaky.  Blend in with the forest.  Stay as low as you can.  Get a good drift.  Dry flies like a Yellow Elk Hair Caddis or Small Stimulator should work.  A Neversink Caddis works really well.  A foam beetle with some bright color on top is a good choice.  The bright color is for you.  You can see your fly better.  A Green Weenie is another fly I would have in my box and use today.  Fish early and late.

Smallmouth bass fishing might be OK early and late in the lowland free flowing rivers.  Little River and the Little Pigeon are good smallmouth streams.  These fish will be deep during the day.  You might find some fish in shallow water in the shade.  But your best fishing will be very early and very late. 

Trout fishing and smallmouth bass fishing will be best in the tailwaters where the water is cooler or at least hopefully cooler.  TVA is having a hard time balancing their water flow and lake level goals since they are contrary to each other.  Some of the lakes in our area are not up to Summer pool yet.  And, flows in the tailwaters have been sparse at times which is not good for the trout fishery.  The agency needs to keep enough water in the Tennessee River for barge traffic.  That is being done.  The Tennessee River is flowing at about normal.  What we need is some rain.

Lake fishing is slow with a fly rod.  Surface water temperatures are in the 80’s even below dams.  The tailwaters cool off briefly while the dams are generating but quickly warm when the sun hits the water.  The smallmouth bass are in deep water now.  They may be in shallow water at night.  If you go fly fishing in the lakes, go early and late.

Largemouth bass and bluegill fishing will be pretty good early and late.  You should be able to find some large bluegill a few feet under the surface.  Use a Rubber Legged Dragon. 

Paula and I picked a bad time to take a few days off to fish.  But, in our business, you take what you can get.  We will be fishing on the lake starting tomorrow and we’ll be back at work next Saturday.

I’m expecting mostly bluegill fishing and maybe some largemouth bass in the evenings.  If the fishing is good, that will be great.  If the fishing is slow, we’ll still have a good time.  We’ll be on the water every day.

Rubber Legged Dragons work well when the big bream are deep.  I have them tied in several colors, chartreuse, olive, black and rust for the most part.  And, since the weight of the fly is dependent on the bead chain eyes, I have tied them using all sizes of eyes.  I guess I have a least 100 of these flies tied. 

Fishing for bluegill with a fly rod takes me back to the early 60’s.  We had several ponds on our farm and our neighbors had ponds too.  I could walk or ride my pony and fish ponds or creeks that were miles from our house.  I had a go cart too.  That was my first actual fishing vehicle.  When I was old enough to reach the pedals, I drove an old pickup truck around the farm.  That truck was olive green and had to have been made in the early 50’s, maybe the late 40’s.  The truck had a name but I can’t remember what it was.  It was used on the farm for transportation and I don’t recall ever seeing it on the roads.  I doubt if it was licensed.

At some point in the early 60’s my Dad bought an old Jeep.  It was made by the Kaiser/Willys Company.  It had to be made before 1955.  That is about the time they quit making them.  I remember getting out of the Jeep, and locking the hubs into 4-wheel drive.  Sometimes I had to push the vehicle a few inches to engage the locks.  That Jeep became the hunting and fishing vehicle for me before I was old enough to drive on highways legally, and after I got my drivers license later on in the 60’s.  I don’t remember anyone in our family driving that Jeep except me.  Over time it became my Jeep.  We had some great times together.  I finally sold it to one of my high school buddies around 1971.  He drove it for decades and he may still be running around his farm in it.

Stay cool today.  The backcountry beckons.

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

Byron Begley
June 23, 2012


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