Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and warm this morning.  I saw only three vehicles on the road during my commute to work.  I’m in a hurry today.  Daniel, Paula and I will be the only three people here.  And she is waiting for the security system repairman to show up at 8:00 at our house.  After I finish this report I’m going home so she can come to work. So, I did not stop and get the water temperature.  I’m guessing it is 70 degrees.

Fishing remains good.  The best fishing is at the high elevation streams but it is good lower down the mountains too.  The water level is exactly normal.  Today the flow is 117 cubic feet per second.  Median flow for this date is 117 cfs.  That does not happen very often. 

Best flies in the mid-elevations are terrestrials such as ants and beetles.  Yellow Sally stonefly imitations work well too.  In the high elevation streams the pattern does not matter, especially for the brook trout.  Those fish up there are always hungry.  The freestone and acidic nature of the water there does not produce an abundance of food.  So, trout, being the opportunistic feeders that they are, will attack anything that looks like a meal.  You do have to get a good drift and presentation is important.  You don’t want to be seen by the fish either. 

The Green Weenie is king right now.  Trout are eating them up.  That fly has saved the day for me many times.  I don’t know of a better summer fly to use if your mission is to catch trout.  A dry works well too and they are probably more fun to use for most folks.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitation is down this year.  Some of the decrease is blamed on the inflated numbers from last year due to the rock slide on Interstate 40 in North Carolina.  You can read the short WBIR Channel 10 article by CLICKING HERE.

There is no doubt among the business community in Townsend, that visitation is down here too.  We’ve noticed it at the shop.  May was a horrible month.  June was not that great but July is looking really good.  I blame the heat for June and Troutfest for May.  Our business is extremely slow before and after Troutfest.  We found that 80% of the people who visit our store that weekend are already our customers.  And they are spending their money at Troutfest as well as here.  But overall, May has declined since Troutfest has become a Fly Fishing Exposition.  We still like Troutfest though.

We finally figured it out.  My question has been answered by TVA.  It was not an easy problem to solve.  I fish on the Little Tennessee River which has several dams.  I check the TVA generations schedules on their website.  I kept noticing a discrepancy in the lake elevation numbers quoted on the web pages.  For instance at one lake the water level was 125 feet higher (in mean elevation) than it indicated at the headwater.  That is impossible.  Water flows down hill!  The water flows from the headwater to the dam.

I found a question link on one of the pages and responded.  Here is what I said:

“I believe you have errors concerning the elevation behind the dam at Chilhowee.  For instance, elevation below Calderwood dam is around 748'.  But, elevation behind dam on the Chilhowee page is 873'.  These elevation readings are both taken on the same lake.  How could the lower end of the lake be 125' higher than the upper end of the lake?”

Thanks,  Byron Begley

Here is the answer I received:

“We give the elevation in feet above sea level, not the depth of the water itself.
If we can be of further assistance, please contact us again.”

I knew that!  That didn’t answer my question.  I thought about answering with “so if I drive from the dam to the upper end of the lake my boat is going downhill by 125 feet?  That would have been a waste of time.  So, I talked to some TVA folks who could figure this out.  Here is some of the comments I read in e-mails.

“I can't make out on my Blackberry - can you see what they are discussing?”

“They’re questioning why the Calderwood TW (~748) is not the same as the Chilhowee HW (~873) ?”

“There is a gage datum issue with the Alcoa plants but both should be using the same datum?”

“Chilhowee is on the newer USGS datum which is why there is a 125’ discrepancy.  Same issue with FNH TW and Cheoah HW.  ALCOA dispatcher reports that it has been like that for around 75 years, no reason why the projects haven’t been converted to the new datum.  Surveying sure has come a long way since the early 1900’s.”

So that explains it.  The original survey below Calderwood dam that was done decades ago is off by 125 feet in elevation.  I guess nobody noticed so they have continued to use it. The same problem exists at Fontana Dam. We have the same problem in Townsend.  Right now I have a 10’ boundary dispute with the Tennessee Department of Transportation at our store.  Somebody is right and somebody is wrong.   

It doesn’t really matter.  I would not suggest that the dam operator re-paint the gauge they use.  They could add 125 feet to the Calderwood Dam data each day and come close to the actual number.  I’m just glad to finally know the truth.  I like the folks at TVA and appreciate the website they provide for us.  We have mistakes on our website too.  There are probably one or two in today’s report.

But, finally the question is answered.

Good news! We have Frog's Fanny again. We got 66 bottles yesterday and there are 48 more on the way. Jerry, who owns the company only charged us for 48 bottles. He made a mistake. We are paying for the 66 and glad to finally have them. Frog's Fanny has been off the market for a month due to the problems with bottles that are made in Mexico.

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

Byron Begley
July 19, 2011

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Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:

Saturday July 23 – Beginner Day One
Sunday July 24 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday September 10 – Beginner Day One
Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

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