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 Mountians.  It is sunny and 67 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic is very light on the roads.

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is foggy and 69 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I check the temperature at the Knoxville Airport every morning while gathering data for this report.  Right now, the temperature there is 73 degrees.  It is always warmer there.  But, that is the number you see on the weather websites on the Townsend page.  That number is not quite right.

Traffic was light.  I arrived at work and Rob Fightmaster was in the parking lot waiting for a client.  We talked for a minute and then his client arrived for his guided trip, going into the Smokies.  At that point, I leave them alone every time.

Little River is flowing higher than yesterday at 75 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.43 feet on the flow gauge.  Yesterday, a small thunderstorm dropped a large amount of rain on the East Prong above Elkmont.  The river rose and the water was stained.  Josh was there with some clients.  He said it poured for about 45 minutes.  It took a while, but the higher water made it to Townsend early in the evening.  It has since dropped. 

Median flow for this date is 149 cfs.  Last year on this date, the flow was 515 cfs or 2.73 feet on the gauge.

Rain and thunderstorms are likely tomorrow and Tuesday.  The chance is 60% to 70%.  We’ll probably get that rain.

Fishing is fair in the Smokies, especially in the higher elevations.  The guides are working the area above Elkmont Campground.  It’s fishing well up there.  I’m sure Thunderhead Prong will be fishing better than the lower elevations.  You could drive to many higher elevation streams, especially those along Highway 441.  The water will be cool on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon and it’s many tributaries. 

Dry flies are working.  Foam Beetles and Yellow Sally Stonefly imitations will serve well as dry flies.  I would use a green or pink Weenie for subsurface offerings.

We have been busy at the shop.  Of course we are way up from last year in July.  During that period last year, many of the Park streams were running very high and not easily or safely fished.  Our customers, especially those who order by mail, may not fish the Smoky Mountains at all.  But, water conditions here have an affect on our business.

Fishing conditions on the tailwaters are important to our business too.  We are a totally weather dependent business, mostly concentrating on the Southeast and mid Atlantic region.  Fishing overall, in our region has been better this year than last. 

That dynamic may change soon.  Last year, the fishing really improved during the Summer.  The high water events settled down during the Summer of 2013 and fishing was excellent.  I’m hoping we get more rain and have a repeat of last August and September.

What we don’t want is another October 2013.  That was the worst disaster you could imagine for businesses in Townsend.  The Park closed when there was a partial shutdown of the U.S. Government.  That is the best month of the year in our area.  The leaf change brings the tourists in. 

Our business was off 33% from the prior October.  That is the time businesses here build up their cash reserves to make it through the slow Winter months.  Unfortunately, some businesses did not recover.  It took us a while.  I hope that never happens again.

Yesterday was interesting.  We held a beginner fly tying class and had 8 students, 4 women and 4 men.  We tried holding tying classes in the Spring before and failed.  This year, Daniel decided to try the Summer.  It’s hot.  People must consider inside activities when it’s hot.  What he did was a test and the results were very good.  We have another fly tying class to be held this Summer.

Our Aquatic Entomology Class for Anglers has been full for weeks.  The class is taught by Dr. Brad Cook, professor of biology at Tennessee Tech.  The class is limited to 10 students.  If you are not enrolled in the class this year, you should consider doing it next year.  It is well worth the time and money.  Brad does an excellent job.

Daniel and I are implementing some changes in our store, again.  It’s a never-ending process.  We change as changes are needed.  I’ve been here almost 20 years.  Daniel has been here about 17 years I think, maybe more.  All I can say is, we’ve got some great ideas and they will work.

Keeping a store stocked and staffed is a big job.  That is his job.  The accounting and marketing is my job.  These days, I sit in an office in front of a computer.  He is down stairs ordering and taking care of customers with the staff.  We have been through some tough times and learned from the experience.  I’ve been through many downturns in the economy during the 42 years I’ve owned a business.  I’m used to it.  This go around, the economy recovered slowly as the recession was deep and unusual. 

We are passed that for the time being.  Of course we know, a downturn will occur again.  They always do.  Look at history.  If you don’t think the markets will correct, just wait.  Unemployment will continue to improve but don’t think that will last forever. The economy moves up and down. Right now, we are making hay while the sun shines.

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

Byron Begley
July 13, 2014

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