Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 70 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It feels good out even though the humidity is 92%.  It is going to be hot today, 90 degrees.  Traffic was fairly heavy this morning.  I’m hoping, for the benefit of my neighbors in the tourism business, that we will have a lot of vacationers this week.  Vacationers are not normally fly fishermen in July.  But, some are.  What we usually see in July are families, mostly young families.

Little River is flowing at 98 cubic feet per second (cfs). Median flow for July 18th is 117 cfs.  The water temperature is 69.5 degrees at the Townsend “Y” at 8:05 am.  The water is clear.

Fishing is good.  It was very good for Josh Pfeiffer and his clients yesterday.  These guys had never fly fished.  Josh said they caught about 30 trout.  They must have been in the higher elevations part of the day because they caught brook trout as well as rainbows.

Josh said they caught almost all of their fish on nymphs.  Dry flies were not working.  And he said, the day before the trout were taking dry flies only.  When that happens we just scratch our heads.  There is no definitive answer except, they were taking one or the other. 

So, I’m convinced, fishing in the Smokies is good.

I’m also convinced that you can catch smallmouth bass lower downstream in Little River right now if you fish early and late.  I would use poppers of course. 

In the lakes, there is some fishing going on using surface flies or minnow imitations.  Anything that looks like a threadfin shad is what I would use.  White bass are attacking schools of shad.  Bluegill will be working the surface early and late.  The big bluegill might be deeper.  Try a long leader (12’) on a floating line.  Use a fly that is weighted.  I tie some Rubber Legged Dragons with large bead chain eyes so they sink quicker.  Cast them out and let them sink.  Then start a very slow retrieve.  Some big bluegill are caught using that technique.  You never know what you are going to catch when you get a fly down 10’ below the surface, especially using this fly. 

Fly fishing for smallmouth bass in the lower reaches of the tailwaters is really good right now.  The bass are taking poppers. 

Yesterday afternoon our neighbor’s 4 cows got out and walked over a mile to the city limits of Townsend.  Paula saw the cows and recognized them when she was driving home from work.  She summoned our neighbor John.  When I drove home there was an entourage involved in safely ushering and prodding the cattle back home.  Tony, one of our policemen was following the 4 wheeler and John up the road with the cows.  He had his emergency lights turned on.  They all made it home and everything turned out well.  There is always something exciting going on in Townsend.

Next Wednesday a few of us are meeting at County Mayor Ed Mitchell’s office.  We hope to finish the concept plan for re-building Laurel Lake.  Once we get the lake drawings and decide on the text, we will print a full color brochure and design a web site.  Hart Graphics will print the brochures and I will take care of the site.

We hope to hold a public meeting in August.

If we can get an environmental permit approved by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, many other activities will go into motion. We will have some geotechnical testing done on the lakebed and dam.  If that looks good the improvements to the dam will be designed.  A different permit will be required.

We will establish a Friends group, 501(c)(3) to raise money for the improvements.  So far everything has been donated and we hope it all will.  Part of our mission is to do this without spending any County money.  Funding will come from Federal grants and public donations.

This is going to be challenging given all the constraints, environmental issues and dam safety compliance. My worst nightmare is, we’ll close the gates of the dam, the lake will fill then a sink hole will appear and drain the lake.  We have some smart engineers working on this project. 

Maybe I’m worrying about nothing.  I can’t help it.  When I grew up on a farm in Kentucky we had several ponds.  All of the ponds had names.  There was the “Pretty Pond”.  We had one called the “Frog Pond”.  There was the “Rock Quarry Pond”.  And, we called one of them “Big Leaky”.

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

Byron Begley
July 18, 2012


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