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 69 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I awoke at 4:00 am.  Went to bed too early I guess.  After reading all the terrible news about wars I decided to get ready for work and got here early.  I drove by Little River and she looks great.  The swinging bridge is still closed.  We still don’t know why.  But, the water level looks very good for July.

Little River is flowing at 122 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.64 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 123 cfs.  That’s about as normal as you can get.  The water is clear and 67.5 degrees at 7:25 am.

We have a 50% to 60% chance for rain through Thursday.  Unfortunately, the humidity right now is 100%.  It hasn’t been that hot lately but it feels like it.  We should have a nice weekend.

Fishing conditions in Great Smoky Mountains are good.  It is overcast and it should be that way for 3 days.  The water is cool in the mid to high elevations.  The water level is normal. 

I think you will do well fishing with either dry flies or nymphs.  Some anglers I’ve talked to are catching trout.  It’s not like Spring of course.  This is Summer after all.  There is absolutely no reason fishing will be slow for you unless you are fishing too low and the water is warm where you are.

I would use terrestrials, Yellow Sally Stonefly imitations, Elk Hair Caddis (Yellow), Green Weenies or other reasonable nymphs.  Presentation is more important than which fly you use.  I talked to a couple of guys yesterday who were not catching many trout.  On guy said he caught only one.  He was wearing a white polo shirt and light colored cap.  His buddy was wearing light clothing.  They didn’t know about the “blending in” concept.  I did tell them to wear muted colors and fish short.  I hope they understood.  I hope they believed me.

Fishermen new to the Smokies (including me back then) don’t understand how important it is to stay hidden and get a good drift.  It’s almost impossible to wade out and make 50 foot casts, expecting to catch a trout here.  I learned the hard way.  There was nobody to advise Frank and I when we started fishing in the Smokies decades ago.  The concept for success here is not simple but once you learn the tricks it really makes sense.

Making a 10 to 15 foot cast just doesn’t seem like a reasonable way to fly fish after watching Brad Pitt in the movie.

Long casts work great in some rivers or lakes.  Not here.

Tom Schrodt called me yesterday.  We’ve been friends for a long time.  He lives in Lexington, Kentucky, near where I grew up.  He and Valerie Askren just published a book called “Fly Fishing Kentucky”.  To my knowledge, this is the first book written about the subject.

Tom reminded me we stayed at the same lodge with a large group in Montana many years ago.  I forgot about that.  I think this book is awesome.  In fact, we are ordering them and they will be for sale on our online store and in the shop.

Selling a $18 book is a trick for us because we don’t charge for shipping.  Books are heavy.  We’re paying freight both ways, to the store and to you.  We do get a reduced “Book Rate” which helps both directions through the U.S. Post Office.

I thumbed through Fly Fishing Kentucky and it brings back many memories.  I didn’t see Boone Creek in the book.  Boone Creek, runs along the border of my family’s former farm.  Back then, I could hike and fish the entire stream to the Kentucky River.  I knew all the landowners.  Evidently, things have changed.  Much of that stream is now off limits to fishing or so I’ve been told. 

Heck, it may have been off limits in the 60’s when I was fly fishing that stream.  Since I knew the farmers, maybe I was the only fisherman.  Come to think of it, I hardly saw anyone fishing Boone Creek back then. 

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife stocked rainbow trout at the Hunt Club.  Our farm was across the creek from the club.  And, our family was a member of the club. I bet they don’t stock that creek these days.  That is probably why it is not featured in the book.  Trout fishing was marginal back then in Boone Creek.  It was more of a pretty place to be.  I used a spinning rod more often than a fly rod in that creek.  

Boone Creek was a special place to spend the day and nights.  It is beautiful.  There were some great places to camp and we did.

I know, I’ve told this story before.  Maybe you have not read it.  It was at Boone Creek that Johnny Hicks and I got busted by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife for gigging frogs out of season.  I think we were about 16 years old.  I’ll never forget that night. 

We didn’t know it at the time, but the creek had just been stocked with rainbow trout.  We were there trying to gig “high fins” a sucker that spawned there.  We saw one dead trout and didn’t think much of it.  We didn’t see any suckers in the riffles.  We did find one big bullfrog and got him.

Johnny fell in and we heard laughing in the dark forest.  It turned out, the laugh came from a game warden who was staking out the stream with two other officers.  They were there to catch people gigging newly released trout. 

The wildlife officers bought our story because we were telling the truth.  We found out there was a frog gigging season, which I never knew of until then, and I broke the law before that probably thousands of times.  I didn’t tell the officers that bit of information.  They let us go with only a warning.

During my formative years, when most kids my age were either studying or going to some kind of organized sports practice, I was always out in the woods or on the waters trying to catch something.  Some things never change.

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

Byron Begley
July 22, 2014

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