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 Mountains.  It is overcast and 68 degrees in Townsend this morning.  We got some rain again last night, .75 inches.  Little River looked beautiful when I drove by.  With flows higher than normal for July 21, the river certainly looks better than what we saw earlier in the month.

Little River is flowing at 192 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.88 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 130 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 66 degrees.

The weather forecast indicates several days of rain, off and on.  The chance is 50% today, then it drops to 40% tomorrow, 30% Wednesday then 50% Thursday.  I think it’s going to rain.

Fishing conditions are very good, especially for July.  You might do best in higher elevations streams.  Try the upper end of the Middle Prong, Thunderhead Prong or the East Prong above Elkmont. 

If it is not raining, try dry flies.  Yellow Sally Stonefly patterns will work.  A foam beetle is a good choice.  If it is raining I would switch to a nymph.  I have a hard time seeing a dry fly on the water when it is raining.  Maybe you have the same problem.

The lowland rivers may be off color.  I suspect they are.  We have had 2.8 inches of rain in three days.  The water in town is clear but I don’t know how far down you could go and still find it clear.  If you find clear water, try a popper for smallmouth bass and redeye bass. If the water is a little off color, try a black Wooly Bugger.  Be careful wading in stained water.  If you can’t see the bottom you might find a deep hole and get a big surprise.

Watch for rising water wherever you go.  The thunderstorms are going to be scattered today so you may not see or hear one but it could be happening upstream without warning. 

Brook trout are the only native trout to the Southern Appalachians.  Actually, a brook trout is a char.  Scientists tell us, these fish migrated south during the ice age.  They were pushed here to retreat into the small watersheds in the mountains.  There, according to science, they evolved into clans, separate from other groups of brookies in other watersheds. 

Years ago, and I knew the scientist at UT who did the genetic work, a distinct sub-species from the eastern brook trout was discovered.  They called it the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. 

According to biologists in the Smokies, who have captured brook trout from different watersheds and stocked them in streams where they were trying to re-introduce them, the different clans from different watersheds do not breed with each other.

I’m going by memory and my understanding from what I have heard personally from biologists.  I believe what they say. 

I also heard, genetic markers indicate, those clans tend to live together and reproduce with each other.  There may be more than one or two clans in a stream but somehow they find each other and spawn their young among themselves, separate from the other clans.

I know, this sounds almost impossible, but I still believe in the fisheries science of today, which has risen to a much higher level than when I started hanging around these scientists 22 years ago.  So, I believe what they say. Again, I could easily misunderstand what I’ve been told.  I’m no scientist. 

I spoke briefly to Dr. Brad Cook Saturday, who is the professor of biology at Tennessee Tech.  He teaches an aquatic entomology class at the shop.  He quickly told me about a project he and some graduate students are working on.  They are capturing brood trout from different watersheds and streams and moving them to three different hatcheries in Tennessee.  In a closed setting like a hatchery, they can breed fish from different clans artificially.  He mentioned the three hatcheries.  One is Tellico.  I don’t remember the others.

So, I guess, the offspring will be a mixture of several clans of brook trout.  Why they are doing it, I don’t know.  And, maybe I misunderstood what he was telling me.  It was a very brief conversation.  I can only guess that this new brook trout could be stocked in a reclaimed former brookie stream, and they would successfully spawn without the interference of their clannish nature. 

If I misunderstood any of this, I’m sorry.  I’m sure we will learn more as time goes on.

Wilson Reynolds, who lives in Maryland bought the Tremont Hills Campground and some cabins in Townsend several years ago.  He is an avid fly fisherman and hunter.

Recently, he bought the former Valley View Lodge, a 16 acre property located right in the middle of Townsend.  The property was in foreclosure and he bought it from a bank.  Wilson is doing a complete remodel, including gutting and re-building the 132 rooms and the banquet and meeting facilities.  I drive by every day and look at what he is doing.  This place is beautiful.  It is a showplace in Townsend.

Wilson and I got together one day and talked about fly fishing events we could do together and hold them at his lodge.  The lodge has the only indoor facility large enough for such an event.  We decided to give it some thought, then meet later. 

I came up with the idea of bringing back Fly Tyer’s Weekend.  We decided to hold it on November 8th and 9th.  It is time for me to ask fly tyers to demonstrate at the event.  That process will begin today.

Wilson called me yesterday, Sunday, from Jackson, Wyoming.  He was talking to his friend, a very famous fly tyer named Scott Sanchez.  I’ve met Scott but I don’t know him well.  Wilson told me Scott would be here for Fly Tyer’s Weekend.  The event is a few months away but we need to begin our work. 

Our goal is to build this event to a very large one over time.  I would like to get at least 30 or 40 fly tyers lined up for this first one. 

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

Byron Begley
July 21, 2014

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