Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is cloudy and raining.  Can you believe that?  Today we are expecting a high of 82 degrees and there is an 80% chance for thunderstorms.  Wow, that’s good news.  Townsend is quiet this morning.  I could tell by looking at the restaurant parking lots and observing almost no traffic on the streets.  It’s not even mid-July and I bet kids are getting ready to go back to school.  That usually means a lull here.  Our shop stays busy but most of the tourist related businesses don’t.  And it seems like school starts earlier each year.  Before long, we’ll be talking about football.

If this rain does amount to something we will see the fishing pick up.  Today would be a great day to fish.  It’s overcast.  The trout are more willing to take risks.  When they take risks, we win.  The water is going to cool off too.  You may find fishing to be better in the lower elevation streams if this keeps up.  It is still going to be warm at night, in the low 70’s which is way above normal for July.  But the days are going to be cooler than they have been.  Combine that with more flow and you’ve got better fishing conditions in the Smokies.

I would fish dry flies.  I would probably go up high to find cooler water and willing brook trout.  They’ll take about anything they can get in their mouths right now.  You will still find them in the pockets, behind rocks in the riffles.  I would be hard pressed to catch one in a pool unless I was on the stream very early or very late.

It’s raining hard right now.  If you look at the flow gauge charts you will see that Little River is rising.  Current flow is 53 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Normal for this date is 120 cfs.  I hope to see the river exceed normal today and maybe for a couple of days.  That would be a refreshing change.

The lakes are fishing pretty good too.  Bluegill are active.  The bass are feeding pretty well in the cooler lakes.  Ponds are fishing well too.  I’m still on a medical leave from fishing but I plan to be out there soon.  I’m preparing by tying black Stealth Bombers for me, Jack, Ron and Steve.  I’m setting up to tie 3 dozen.  First you have to cut out the bodies.  I have a template that I lay down on a piece of foam.  Then I punch holes in the foam at certain points using a dubbing needle.  Using a metal straight edge and Exacto-Knife I cut out the bodies by connecting the holes in the foam with a slice.  It’s easy but boring.  Once I get the three dozen bodies cut out the fun begins.

I need to build up an inventory of Puglisi Threadfin Shad too.  Right now the majority of the shad in the lakes I fish are 1” to 1 ½” long.  I tie these on a #4 Tiemco egg hook.  They look like little tarpon flies to me.  They look like shad to the fish. 

This is my favorite fly to fish but one of my least favorites to tie.  They take me about ½ hour or more to tie.  Knocking out a dozen takes some time.  I tie them using all white EP fibers, trim to the 3-D shape of a shad, color them with markers, glue on the dome eyes and plop them into a likely spot.  You can catch smallmouth bass, trout, bluegill and stripers on them.  White bass love them too.  Occasionally a largemouth bass will hammer one.  Carp like them.  Heck, just about every fish that lives in the Tennessee River or Cumberland River watersheds love them. The Threadfin is a Southern forage fish.

The Puglisi shad is not available as a commercial tie.  I’m going to get in touch with Enrico to see if he can have them tied at the factory he uses.  They are going to be expensive.  All of his flies are because they are so time consuming.  But, they last a long time.  It’s hard to wear them out.  If they fade you can re-touch the color with markers.  If an eye gets eaten off you can glue on another one.  If they get skraggly looking just brush them out with a tooth brush and do a little trimming. In no time they look brand new.

Most of my flies get lost in the boat, blowing out on the way home.  If I can solve that problem I will cut down on fly tying time.  Both the Publisi Shad and the Stealth Bomber are very durable.  If I have those two flies in the boat I don’t need much else.  Life is simple.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to Bill Bolinger who works here at the shop.  His mom passed away yesterday.  Take care buddy, we’re thinking about you.  Bill is a great guy and we are lucky to have him working here.  He’s a fisherman too, a real fine fisherman.  His wife Sheila keeps our books and keeps us straight.  She is quite an angler too.  The Bolingers are very active in Troutfest.  If you buy a banquet ticket, they took care of it for you.

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

Byron Begley
July 12, 2010 

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