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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is partly cloudy and 70 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Human activity was high on my commute.  Lots of people were walking and riding bicycles around town.  There were quite a few cars on the road.  The tourism business seems to be good.  Great weather brings the visitors to Townsend.

Little River looked awesome this morning.  Due to the flow, the river looked more like it would in May than in July.  Flow is currently 299 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 117 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 is 65.2 degrees and the water is clear.

Fly fishing conditions in the Little River watershed are perfect.  I think that might be the case in most of the Smokies streams.  One possible exception may be the Little Pigeon River.  I noticed the flow graph indicated a sharp increase in flow at the Sevierville Gauge.  I saw a storm approach through Sevier County last night and it was headed our way.  It dumped some water somewhere in the Little Pigeon.  The storm fell apart about the time it reached Townsend.  All we heard last night was thunder and we got a little rain.  Cataloochee, Oconaluftee and Tellico River gauges did not rise.  Little River got a small bump but nothing substantial.

Dry flies are working well.  I would use a Yellow Stimulator, Yellow Neversink Caddis, Light Cahill, Yellow Parachute Adams or a black beetle as a dry fly.  For a subsurface fly, pick a nymph such as Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Tellico Nymph or Green Weenie.  If the trout don’t hit these flies, they are not biting.

I looked at all of our local tailwater generation schedules this morning.  There are not many fishing opportunities today.  Some of the lake levels are dropping so we should see TVA let up on the generation soon. 

We do have a chance for rain every day through the weekend.  The odds increase on Saturday and Sunday.  One thing we don’t need right now is more rain.  We’ve had enough for a while.  It is hot and muggy too.  We’ll see cooler temperatures by the weekend.

Paula and I launched the boat at 6:30 am yesterday morning.  The lake was higher than I have ever seen it.  The water temperature was great, 74 degrees.  Smallmouth bass were not hitting on the surface at all.  Bluegill were not rising to the surface either.  After about 2 hours of pounding the bank with poppers, I tied on a version of the Rubber Legged Dragon and caught one smallmouth bass.  By 9:30 am it was getting hot.  We cruised around and just relaxed for a while.  It was a nice morning.  We pulled the boat out at 11:00 am.  Next week we are going further down the Little Tennessee River to the junction of Tellico River.  I think the fishing will be better there.

This is the perfect time to wander into the backcountry in the Smokies for some small stream fly fishing.  I would hike up the river above Elkmont Campground.  There, you will find cooler, more comfortable temperatures and very good fishing for rainbows, brookies and even brown trout.  I bet Abrams Creek is fishing well too.  The stream conditions we have now are not typical for July.  I don’t remember when the river conditions have been this good in July, in the Smokies, ever. 

August will arrive soon.  Kids go back to school.  Visitor attendance in the Park will drop during the week.  If we continue to have this high water in August, fishing is going to be great and there will be less people in the Park.  That is an excellent combination.  That is rare.

I have no data to back this up, but there seems to be less watercraft on the lakes this year. I have heard it from marina operators and TWRA too.  Marinas hat the same problem we have had, it has rained on weekends this Spring and early Summer.

A lot of our customers like to fly fish for trout on tailwaters.  There have not been many opportunities for that this year.  Mountain streams have been too high to fish often.  Guides have told me that they have had to cancel more trips this year than ever before, due to weather related stream conditions and excessive generation on the tailwaters.  Let’s face it, this has been a strange year, weather-wise. We need a break and maybe it is happening or coming soon. 

And maybe, all of this adversity we have experienced this year as fly fishermen, will pay off in future benefits, just later in the year than normal.  I’m still not going to complain about rain.  I swore I would never do that again during the last drought.

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

Byron Begley
July 18, 2013


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