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

Welcome to the Fishing Report and welcome to “Soggy Saturday”.  It is raining again.  And, it is supposed to rain through tomorrow night.  We’ve been lucky.  The heavy rain has missed us so far and moved to our west.  We had ¼” of water in our rain gauge this morning.

The National Weather Service is saying:

“Additional rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected through Sunday with up to 6 inches or more possible across the plateau and western sections of the Tennessee Valley.  Saturated grounds and more prolonged moderate to locally heavy rainfall poses a threat of flooding of areas streams and rivers.”

Middle Tennessee is getting hammered.  North and Central Alabama have reported rainfall amounts of up to 7 inches too.  One of our regular customers from Middle Tennessee called me yesterday to order some Simms waders.  He said the catwalk to his boathouse was under water on Tims Ford Lake.  I think he said they had already received 7” of rain.  

So, it goes without saying, stay out of our rivers and streams.  Now, we may still be missed by this huge rain event but I wouldn’t take any chances.  We don’t have any flooding to my knowledge.  The rivers and streams are high though.

Little River is flowing at 652 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.97 feet on the gauge.  The river is currently rising.  Median flow for this date is 142 cfs.  The water temperature is 62 degrees. The water is turbid in town. 

This Independence Day holiday has not been what you would call busy like we would expect.  I talked to the folks at the bank yesterday.  Customers are telling them “business is slow”.  I talked to a lady at the grocery store.  She said business was dead.  I looked around in the store and could have determined that myself.  I did see people tubing on Little River yesterday.  That was a surprise.

The sun just popped out and the mountains are beautiful right now. We haven’t seen the sun in days. I’m looking at the weather radar and it appears we will be dry for a while.  I hope so. 

When this is all over, anglers are going to be fishing.  I am one of them.  Paula and I have been fishing almost every week since the end of April.  Not this week.  The weather was awful on my day off.  I am ready to go. 

People are tying flies.  We can tell.  Two weeks ago the fly tying department was stocked well.  Now, it is in need of attention.  I will be ordering again this weekend. That’s what many fly fishermen do when they can’t fish, tie flies.

Our business is usually slow in July.  July is starting out different this year.  Our business will be up from last year the first week of July.  My only explanation is, anglers know fishing is going to be better than normal this Summer and they are preparing.  When this rain slows down, fishing is going to be excellent. 

I got several e-mails and personal comments yesterday about the article in Trout Magazine featuring Steve Moore.  Steve runs the Fisheries Department at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and spent most of his career working here. 

I met Steve in 1992 when I was trying to start a new Trout Unlimited Chapter to work with the Park.  That had never happened before.  We have been good friends ever since. 

We formed the Little River Chapter of TU in 1993.  From the beginning, volunteers from the Little River and Great Smoky Mountains Chapters stepped up to the plate, working as helpers on the streams and raising money. Both chapters held a banquet in the early 90’s as partners.  At the time, it was the most profitable TU banquet ever held in Tennessee.

Once we worked out all the kinks, other Trout Unlimited Chapters in Tennessee and North Carolina joined the party.  Then, the FFF got involved.  The Tennessee Council of Trout Unlimited got involved.  Friends of the Smokies formed early on and started supporting the fisheries program at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Other non-profits and government agencies donated money.  The whole volunteer spirit mushroomed over the years.  It was an incredible thing to watch.

Matt Kulp, a younger fisheries biologist who was fresh out of graduate school, joined Steve early on.  Matt and Steve became the “A” Team.  Matt saw the benefits of utilizing volunteers.  He has worked very closely with TU and other volunteer organizations to benefit the Park’s fisheries work. 

The Little River Chapter of TU started holding Troutfest 10 years ago.  The original intent was to provide education to anglers and non-anglers about the unique trout fishery and biological diversity we have here in the Smokies.  That worked out well.  People learned. 

Troutfest also made money and plenty of it.  Checks were written to the Fisheries Department in the Park every year and those funds were matched with grants for brook trout restoration.  I remember a couple of $40,000 checks donated by Troutfest and the Little River Chapter to the Park.  Money was donated every year.  Troutfest was and is a celebration of volunteerism. 

Troutfest was not held this year.  The event will continue in some form in the future.

Steve Moore and Matt Kulp will both tell you that they and their staff could not have done what they did without volunteers and fundraising over the past 20 years. What they have done is a model for volunteerism, National Parks and Fisheries Departments in the United States.  What we all have done is restore miles of streams in the Smokies to pure Southern Appalachian strain brook trout.  What Steve and Matt did opened the doors to anglers, who can now fish in brook trout streams that had been closed to fishing for decades.  Great job guys!

The sky is blue in areas right now and the sun is still shining.

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

Byron Begley
July 6, 2013

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