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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is 71 degrees and sunny this morning in Townsend.  The high temperature today is predicted to be 101 degrees.  The thermometer at the Airport hit 105 degrees yesterday.  That was a record for that date and probably close to the all time high temperature.  All time high records were set in our region yesterday. Chattanooga tied their all time high at 106 degrees.  I’ll be glad when this heat wave is behind us.  It’s almost over.

Traffic was light this morning.  I did see some people walking and riding bicycles.  It feels really good out there compared to yesterday.

Temperatures are expected to cool this week and the chance for rain will increase.  Rain and cooler temperatures will certainly improve the fishing in the Smokies and everywhere else around here. 

Little River is flowing at 50 cubic feet per second (cfs).  That is exactly the same as it was yesterday morning.  We got a little rain in the mountains late yesterday, the river spiked up briefly and now it is back down to where it started 24 hours ago.  Median flow for this date is 118 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:00 am is 73 degrees at the “Y”.  That number will rise today.

I would fish the higher elevations and hike into the backcountry in the Smoky Mountains.  But, some anglers reported success in the lower elevation streams yesterday.  Nobody said anything about catching a lot of trout but their expectations were low anyway and catching a few satisfied those who tried.  I’m sure the fishing was very good higher up.  You need to be sneaky and stay hidden.  There is not much water flowing in the streams.  The trout are attempting to hide in riffles and choppy water.  Dry flies and nymphs will work. You will do best early and late.

Fishing downstream in the smallmouth bass water is probably slow during the day but pretty good early and late.  I know the bass will run for cover and deeper water when the sun hits the stream surface.  Other lowland rivers are probably fishing fair.  Again, we would be much better off with more water and cooler temperatures.

I was off for 5 days last week.  Daniel wrote the Fishing Report.  He did not update the lake level information located to the bottom left of this report.  So, I did that yesterday.  Wow!  Several lakes dropped by a foot or more during that short period.  I fish on Tellico Lake and it was one of those that dropped along with Fort Loudoun.  Those lakes are tied together with a canal so they are always at the same level.

I don’t go fishing on weekends or during holiday weeks.  So, I probably won’t be fishing this week which is unusual.  If Doug or Rufus calls I would go on Thursday or in the evening on another day.  But I’m not going by myself.

I would like to though.  At night I’m tying some new bluegill flies that I want to try.  They are a variation of the Rubber Legged Dragon.  I’m tying them larger #6, and with heavier bead chain eyes.  Paula and I had some luck last week using 12’ leaders and RL Dragons.  We caught some nice bluegill.  I love catching large bluegill on a fly rod.  I started fly fishing for them in 1962.  It’s more fun using poppers and watching them rise up and suck the fly in.  Willow flies are hatching on some of the lakes right now so if you go, take a few light tan or dark brown mayfly imitations and make them big. 

But right now we’re catching more bluegill using the Dragon or to be more specific, Carter’s Rubber-Legged Dragon.  Carter Nelson developed this fly for the ponds at Calloway Gardens.  He ties them on a Mustad 9671 #8 or #10.  I use a Tiemco 2457 in a #6 or #8.  Here is a link to the Warmwater Fly Tyer page that shows the tying steps.  You can tie many variations.  Rust is a good color for me.  I also like chartreuse and black.  I also use Rabbit fur cut from zonker strips for the tail and collar.  Probably anything that resembles this fly will work. 

Under many conditions, the larger bluegill are deeper.  Retrieve this fly very slowly.  Point your rod to the fly and keep your line tight.  You will feel them take your fly.  Largemouth bass and smallies will also take this fly.  We even caught some channel catfish on them last week though we were not trying.  I caught one that weighed about 3 pounds and at first I thought I had a huge bluegill.  Carp will eat them too.  This is a great fly and I have at last 100 of them tied and ready to go.  It is a go-to Summer fly on the lakes around here.  Check out the moon.  It is near full.  The gills should be spawning again.

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

Byron Begley
July 1, 2012

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