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.  It is sunny and 75 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It is going to be hot again today.  When I drove home last night the temperature was 96 degrees in the sun.  On our shaded deck it was 86 degrees.  We are not used to this kind of heat so far this year.

Little River is flowing very low at 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.27 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 139 cfs.  Last year on this date the flow was 411 cfs or 2.52 feet on the gauge.  The water temperature at 7:55 is a very warm 72 degrees.

These conditions will most likely change tonight.  A cold front will approach this afternoon bringing thunderstorms and heavy rain later.  The National Weather Service indicates a possibility for flash flooding tonight through tomorrow.  Rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches are expected with locally heavier amounts.  We need the rain.  This might be a little too much all at once.

After the storms pass, temperatures will drop like a rock.  We should see highs in the low 80’s and lows in the high 50’s into the weekend with more rain Friday.

Fishing in the Smokies is still good.  The guides are doing well in the higher elevations.  I heard from David Knapp yesterday.  He had an excellent fisherman as a client who caught about 25 trout on their day together.  That’s a good day this time of year, especially with the very low water.

I would use dry flies or Green Weenies.  Either a black foam beetle or yellow sally stonefly would be my choice for a dry fly.

Depending on the weather, watch for flash flooding this afternoon and tomorrow.  These storms can hit in the watershed without you knowing it.  The result is a quickly rising river with maybe only one way out.  If that one way out happens to be on the side of the stream across the road, you may be in trouble.  It’s not cold enough to worry much about hypothermia.  But, trying to bushwhack for a mile or more to a bridge crossing could be quite a chore, something you or I may not be capable of doing.  Therefore, I pass on my caution.

I have lived here or fished here over 30 years.  I have never heard of a fisherman drowning due to a flash flood.  I do remember one angler who died from a fall and another who uncovered a huge yellow jacket nest.  Still, it could happen.  Be careful.

The 2nd Big Clinch River Cleanup was held Saturday.  Over 100 volunteers showed up and worked on this well organized cleanup.  This event started years ago by the Clinch River Chapter of TU and local residents who live near the river.  It has grown over the years.  Trout Unlimited members from three chapters were represented at this cleanup.  I have talked to several participants and they raved about the amount of garbage and tires they removed from that river.  Great job guys and gals!

The Clinch River is one of several tailwaters we a lucky enough to live near.  The Clinch, as well as others need to be protected and kept clean.  There are many people who share a passion for these rivers.  We should all work together to protect them.

WBIR ran a story about TWRA and others trying to gain more public access on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam.  I’ve been working with TWRA on the same project lately.  One new TWRA ramp is under construction.  I saw it on a recent fishing trip.  Hopefully, our agency can secure more land for that purpose.   

The Holston is a beautiful  river, with excellent trout fishing in the upper stretches and super fly fishing for smallmouth bass in the lower reaches.  I’ve floated that river twice this year and didn’t see one other boat either day.  My buddies Frank and Mouse will most likely be floating it tomorrow with Josh Pfeiffer.  They may choose a different river due to dam discharges or all of this rain we are expecting. I just got a call. The trip is off. Josh thinks this front will put the fish down. They re-scheduled.

I’ve floated the French Broad River for smallmouth bass too.  I loved it.

We should all be thankful for the fly fishing opportunities we have here.  Whether you fish for trout, bass or stripers, you can find good fishing close by.  There are exceptions, but for the most part, our waters are not crowded.  With many thousands of acres of National Forests and our National Park, hundreds of miles of trout streams are located on public land. 

During the past few years, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has opened around 30 miles of streams that were closed to fishing for decades.  Those were all native brook trout streams.  We are fortunate to have a fisheries department in the National Park that strives to offer more fishing opportunities to anglers.  Nobody can truthfully deny that.  Thirty miles is a lot of water where we can now fish for native brook trout.

Fisheries managers in the National Park have learned over the past 30 years, that fishermen have almost no impact on the fish populations.  It’s droughts and floods that change the biomass and there is nothing that can be done about that.  Trout populations fluctuate up and down, year to year, based on the weather.  That knowledge, led to the opening of the once closed brook trout streams in the Park for our enjoyment.

One tailwater, that has been harmed by dam repairs for several years is back.  It’s the Cumberland River in Kentucky below Wolf Creek Dam.  I grew up fishing the lake and love that area.  I hooked the largest brown trout of my life in the tailwater years ago.  The construction is complete, flows are back to normal and fishing is excellent.  Cumberland Drifters, a guide service is covered up with business floating people down that river.  Our friend Rocky Cox is guiding there. 

The folks at the Lexington Angler are doing everything possible to help fishermen learn more about this tailwater.  I’m convinced, at some point soon, the Cumberland has the potential to be one of the finest trout fisheries in the East.  I think it was just that before the dam started leaking. 

Additionally, the discharge below the National Trout Hatchery (Hatchery Creek) is being transformed into a fisherman’s dream.  The end result, which I hope will be finished this fall, will be a perfect stream for spawning rainbow, brown and brook trout, as well as an excellent fishery.  Part of that stream will be designated “Catch and Release”.  I’ll be fishing up there next month.

The possibilities are endless. 

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

Byron Begley
July 14, 2014

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