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 foggy and 71 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was light on my way to work.  I noticed a temporary sign at AJ’s Restaurant that read, “Fried Catfish – Free Beer”.  Hmm, I kind of have a craving for catfish right now.

We got plenty of rain yesterday.  There was 1.25” of water in our gauge.  Short Creek, that runs through our property was muddy this morning.  We live in Dry Valley.  It is called that because the water runs underground.  The water appears in certain spots like Tuckaleechee Caverns and two springs that feed Short Creek.  But, for the most part, Dry Valley is dry. 

We have an underground lake in front of our house.  I’ve never seen it.  A view of that lake would require a decent into Butter Cave.  There is no way I am going to drop down a small cave just to see a lake.  We have too many lakes around here I can view from above ground. 

During the Winter, when it is really cold, you can see vapor rising out of small holes on our property in certain spots.  The water table is close to the top of the ground.  The 58 degree air meets sub freezing air and that phenomenon occurs.  We have caves all around us and the vapor pours out of them too.  At times it looks like Yellowstone. 

The vapor freezes on the trees next to Short Creek at times.  You can walk down to the creek, see vapor “steaming” out of the ground, then enter another world of ice laden trees.  It is an incredible sight to see.

Little River is flowing near normal at 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.55 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 103 cfs.  The water was clear in town when I drove by.  At 8:05 am, the water temperature is 69.1 degrees.

Fishing remains pretty good.  I talked to one good angler yesterday who caught a few trout on the Middle Prong at Tremont.  You will find cooler water and better fishing higher up.  The East Prong above Elkmont is fishing well.  The higher elevation streams are even better.

I can tell you this.  Most anglers are doing best using nymphs right now, inchworm patterns to be exact.

Water temperature plays an important role in the dissolved oxygen content in a stream.  The colder the water, the more parts per million (PPM) of oxygen you will have.  Trout require lots of oxygen.  When the water is cool, they are happy and healthy.  That is why wild trout populations fare well in the Smoky Mountains.  The water is cool and has a high concentration of oxygen. 

During droughts and hot conditions, some low elevation streams get warm and the PPM of dissolved oxygen drops.  That stresses the trout.  The warm water also increases their metabolic activity and the fish require more food.  I asked a biologist who works for the Park, What is killing the fish during this drought?”  He replied, “They starve to death”.  That never occurred to me.  I thought they died from the lack of oxygen.

We are not in the midst of a drought.  Our conversation happened years ago.

We have a 50% chance for rain today and 40% tomorrow.  We should expect scattered thunderstorms for a few days.  So, the streams will be rising and falling.  You may encounter stained water at times.  You could even see some water rising swiftly.  Be careful and be alert.  When clear water turns stained, get out.

I figured it out on my way to work.  It took a quick calculation in my head.  I used the oil change reminder sticker on my windshield and the odometer on my truck to make this determination.  I have driven approximately 2,500 miles this year.  I would have guessed much lower.

My truck is a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban that I purchased new.  It has about 143,000 miles on it.  There were years, we drove it to Florida to fish, three times each year.  That truck has been to Michigan, New York and other states on fishing trips.  Now, my truck pretty much stays in the Townsend area making my short commute each way every day. We drive Paula’s Subaru on vacations.

I do pull the boat to the Little Tennessee River to fish as often as we can.  I guess that’s how I have averaged driving 13.73 miles per day this year.  I have been to Maryville a couple of times and Knoxville once.  I’m going to calculate this again.  That’s a lot of miles for me. 

Think of all the gas I’m using! That’s probably 20 to 25 gallons a month.  I never fill the tank.  I don’t want the gas to go bad before it gets used.  

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

Byron Begley
June 29, 2014

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