Townsend, Tennessee
July 26, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It was 75 degrees when I drove to work.  I did see two wild turkeys next to our driveway this morning.  One of them acted like it was going to fly but aborted takeoff at the last minute.  It is cloudy too.  A large band of rain and thunderstorms are moving our direction but so far the front has stayed just north of us.  We need some rain. 

The water level in the Smokies streams is low.  The water is warm too.  This morning the temperature at the swinging bridge where I stop every morning was 69 degrees.  I think that is the warmest it’s been in the morning all year.  The same guy I often see fishing off the rock pulled in when I came up from the river.  He probably won’t catch any trout.  They have not stocked in a while.  He knows it too.  He told me he just likes to sit down there and relax.  Someday I might just take a chair down there and sit with him, doing some serious stream watching.  Stream watching is a relaxing thing to do.  It is similar to lake and ocean watching. 

Fishing is OK but for today I would seek higher ground.  The water is warm and the tourists in their tubes are thick in the Park.  They are mostly boating in the lower elevations according to reports. 

I would fish high on the Tremont Road, a couple of miles or more above Elkmont, or drive up 441 toward the Chimneys and fish the streams up there.  Abrams Creek will be cool near the falls trailhead but the traffic will probably be unbearable. 

I’m telling customers to use beetles, ants, Green Weenies, Neversink Caddis (yellow) and #16 Yellow Stimulators with rubber legs and without.  Also, Yellow Parachute Adams and Yellow Elk Hair Caddis would be two other good choices.  Fish early and late until dark.  It is overcast so fishing might be pretty good all day.

The long term weather forecast calls for rain every day and fairly cool temperatures.  If we get the rain and they are right about the temperature and that trend continues,  fishing in August might be much better than normal at mid-elevations and certainly good in the high elevation streams.

During the droughts of 2007 and 2008 you could find cool water in the high elevation streams and the fishing was good in a few of them.  I tried to steer readers of this report to the tailwaters during that time.  I felt like heavy crowds on those small high elevation creeks would not be good for anyone.  But, no matter how hot it gets or how low the water you can catch trout in those high elevation streams.  I’m probably not telling you something you don’t already know.  Temperatures at Mount Leconte have dipped into the 30’s lately, you probably read it in the newspaper if you live near here.

There has been a lively debate on our Message Board lately which involves a report in one of our newspapers about fishing in one of the local tailwaters.  Thankfully I was not ivolved this time. I have been interviewed by one television station often over the past few years.  They do a good job and I never turn them down.  Usually I am asked to comment on more tourism issues than fishing.  During the drought I was interviewed and I told the reporter during the worst months of the year I was sending our customers to the tailwaters, again so as not to overcrowd what few streams in the highest elevations were fishable. 

Some people get upset if we mention their favorite water to the media.  I’m sure I catch a lot of flack about that on message boards.  But, what are we in the fly fishing business supposed to do when the press comes calling.  Should we tell them “no comment”?  What if you owned a golf store and your local newspaper showed up to do a story?  Would you tell them you were not interested in talking about golf?  Does a boat or paddlesport dealer shun the press when they come calling?   Of course not.

I prefer to help reporters get their story about things like Troutfest and brook trout restoration in the Park.  Doing that only makes a few people mad at me.  I liked talking about our local hotel/motel tax increase and how those funds allowed us to purchase a $1.4 million tract of land in Townsend to be used for tourism.  I wonder how many people were mad at me about that.  I know a few who were.

There is one thing we should all consider.  The press is going to report on fishing.  Magazines, newspapers, websites, TV stations, radio stations and other media are going to talk about one of the most popular sports in America, fishing.  So, a story might be published about your favorite river or lake.  Maybe an article about using a new fly that really works comes out and we all thought we were the few who knew about it.

But consider this, the article that is written about your favorite place to fish will be old news as soon as another story replaces it.  The outdoor writer in your local newspaper will need a new story next Sunday.  I write about fishing in the Smokies every day.  But right now there is someone else writing about fishing for stripers in the lakes, fishing in the Keys, fishing in tailwaters in Kentucky, lakes in Alabama, rivers in Yellowstone, heck the list goes on and on. 

The number of fishermen is not growing.  And, the number of fly fishermen is not growing.  Those numbers are actually shrinking, there is less participation in our sport.  And that trend will continue as long as soccer and the internet win out over fishing and hunting with young people.  That is happening and I don’t see any changes in the future.

I think the United States, your local community and all of us would benefit if more people hunted and fished like they did when I was young.  Hunting and fishing license sales are down in most states.  Our agencies struggle.  If the press decided to curtail stories about our sport it would make matters worse. 

If more people hunted and fished that would solve a lot of our social problems.  I’m biased of course, hunting and fishing is all I’ve done all my life. I did play golf for a couple of years.  It was too competitive for me and not relaxing.  I would rather do some stream watching.

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

Byron Begley
July 26, 2009

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