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 foggy and 70 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic was very light on the streets when I came to work earlier.  The river looked fine but the water is still low.  The huge storm missed us last night.  I went to bed after checking the radar.  That thing looked almost as large as half the State of Tennessee and it was bearing down on us.  I knew this one would hit us.  It didn’t.  Now, it is moving north and located in West Virginia. We had less than a half inch in our gauge at the shop this morning.  I don’t think the Park got much of anything. 

I did notice something strange earlier.  There is a large “Closed” sign on the Dark Island Swinging Bridge.  I have no idea why.  Is it a structural problem?  I didn’t look at the other end to see if there was a barricade on that end. 

Little River is flowing at 48 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.26 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 129 cfs.  Last year on this date, flow was 361 cfs or 2.41 feet on the gauge.  That was unusual.  We had a wet first two weeks of July last year.  The water temperature at 8:10 am is 73.5 degrees.

Fishing is good in the higher elevations.  Trout are taking dry flies until the sun hits the water.  Then, they are spooky.  That should not be a problem today.  I don’t expect any sunshine today.  Mike told me he did fairly well yesterday and when the topwater bite slowed, he switched to nymphs and caught trout.

Well I’ll be.  It’s raining now, pretty hard.

We do have a 70% chance for rain today.  Then, the air will cool, down to the 50’s tonight and tomorrow night.  Highs will be near 80 each day through the weekend.  The chance for rain returns Friday.  Right now, the weather folks are predicting a 80% chance Friday and a 70% chance Saturday.  That won’t be good news for campers and tourists.  It will be good news for fishermen.

If you go fishing today, go to the higher elevations.  Hike up above Elkmont.  Drive up 441 toward Newfound Gap.  The water will probably be at least 10 degrees cooler up there than it is down here.  Mike said the water temperature where he fished yesterday was 63 degrees.  I think he was a couple of miles above the Elkmont Campground.

Dry flies, especially beetles and yellow sally stoneflies will work.  Green or Pink Weenies will produce.  Prince, Tellico and Pheasant Tail nymphs are a good choice.

Mike also said he and a friend fished the “Shoe” at Abrams Creek this week and tore them up.  They were using Prince Nymphs.  He said the water was cool there.  I can’t remember the number but it was lower than I expected.


I’ve known Walter very well for about 22 years. We are close friends.  We’ve been on fishing trips together, Paula and I have stayed in Walter and his wife’s cabin with them and we both have worked together for at least 17 of those years.  I’ll never forget the trip we took together to New York.  We attended a fly fishing instructors school at Joan Wulff’s home near Roscoe.  Joan was one of our instructors.  Walter and I started teaching fly tying too.  He and I wrote and photographed the tying steps together which took days for each book we use in the classes.  He has taught at our school, both fly tying and beginner fly fishing.  In fact, he taught a tying class here last weekend.

If you are one of the fortunate one out of several hundred students he has taught, you are lucky.  You learned a lot more than just fly fishing and fly tying. You got the total experience most will never have. He knows a much about fly fishing as anyone.  Walter is the best fly tyer I have watched. And, he remembers everything.  He has a good mind and a great sense of humor. More important than anything else, Walter is just a good person. They don't come any better. Walter always donates a fly rod to Troutfest and 12 dozen of his fine hand tied flies. Those flies always sell for hundreds of dollars at auction.

Over the past few years, Walter has been making bamboo fly rods and selling them.  Customers place orders and wait several months for their prized rod.  Walter has become well known in rod making circles.  Walter made a rod for me years ago.  I love mine.

Walter kept telling me about the television show they had been working on.  It is a Heartland Series show with Bill Landry as the host.  Steve Dean is the producer.  Doug Mills did the video work.  I know them all well.  Walter told Steve, “Watching someone make a bamboo rod is like watching paint dry”.  Well, this show is very interesting it turns out.  This show is very well done.  It aired on WBIR this week.  It is now available for you to see.  You’ve got to watch this.  Click on the window below.

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

Byron Begley
July 15, 2014 

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