Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  Good news!  It’s probably going to rain.  There is a fair chance today and a significant chance tonight.  More on the way next week maybe.  It’s going to cool off too.  The high today will only climb to 91 and only 88 tomorrow.  I know, that’s still way above normal.  When I drove to town yesterday to visit with my new doctor friend it was 96 degrees.  88 is going to feel cool.

The water in Little River is very low.  Currently the flow is 43 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Normal is 131 cfs for this date.  Fishing is tough, you need to find your way to the higher elevation streams and fish the faster riffles and pockets.  The trout are hiding there.  They are also enjoying more oxygen in the riffles.  Warmer water does not hold dissolved oxygen well.  The warmer the water the less oxygen there is.  Also, the warmer water speeds up the trout’s metabolism.  They have to feed a lot to keep up with their body’s demand.  That’s a tough balancing act when they have to stay in the faster water and use more energy to stay there.  That’s why you will find them hiding in the pockets behind rocks.  The water is slower but they are still hidden.

During the drought of 2007 and 2008 we had a lot of rainbow trout mortality.  The water was very low and warm.  Rainbow trout were dying everywhere you looked in the lower elevation streams.  I asked Matt Kulp who is a fisheries biologist in the Park what the trout actually died of.  Was it lack of oxygen?  He said they starve to death too.  High temps = high metabolism and burning of calories thus more food is needed to maintain body weight.  The trout are stressed too and subject to disease. Low oxygen, stress, disease and malnourishment are all mortality factors in droughts.  Droughts help control the species from overpopulation.  It keeps things in balance.  Some of the best fishing we’ve had in years occurred last year and this Spring after the successive droughts.  The trout are larger.

We are not expected to have a drought this year.  But, we are getting close or so it seems.  Fishing will get better after we cool off some and get rain.

Daniel is working diligently on the fly tying department.  It is one of our best performing categories this year.  I’m working on the flies, especially the bigger ones, the flies that we package and hang on the wall.  Our goal is to make these two categories high performers.  Actually they already are high performers.  We just see a lot of potential in smaller, less expensive merchandise due to the economy and customers buying habits.  We like selling small things.  I think we’re good at it.  So, you are going to see more small stuff in our store.

By design we know what you buy.  By design we know that our growth this summer is coming from our local customer base.  So, by design we are going to leverage that information to the fullest.  In business, if you can predict what your customers are going to buy, have more of that and less of what the customers are not going to buy, you will have a more successful business.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  It’s not that simple.  Without the data we have it would be impossible. 

We are seeing a trend toward warmwater fly fishing by our customer base.  I don’t know why that is happening but it is.  So, we are shifting some of our inventory assets in that direction.  That suits me fine.  I’ve changed my fishing habits and buying habits more toward warmwater fly fishing too.  Maybe it’s just a phase I’m going through.  Or, maybe I’m changing or expanding my sport like other customers are. 

A lot of our customers live in states where there is very little trout fishing.  A lot of those customers don’t live near trout water.  A lot of them fish for bass, stripers and bluegill.  So, maybe we are just adapting to fill more of our customers needs.  Maybe we should have done this a long time ago.

The same is true of saltwater fly fishing.  We serve customers in the coastal states where saltwater fly fishing is very popular.  That’s why we stock 8 though 12 weight rods, big game reels, saltwater flies and fly tying materials.  We’ve been doing that for a long time.  Many of our local customers travel to the coast to fish for saltwater species.  We’re here to get them ready.  Our saltwater fly fishing department has served us and you very well over the years. 

It’s a balancing act.  We adapt and continue to prosper.  Everything in business is always changing.  I like that challenge.  I like change.

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

Byron Begley
July 9, 2010

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