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 partly cloudy and 69 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic is very light.  I drove by the elementary school to see if there was a crowd.  It is election day for the primaries.  I’ll vote later today at the school.  I also drove by three motels.  Their parking lots were practically empty.  The reason for that is, we are going through our temporary lull in the tourism business.  That began this week.  It is quiet in our town for now.  It happens every August.  We are very busy here for some reason.  Our first week of August may be up 30 to 40 percent over last year.  I was off yesterday so I don’t know where we stand.  July was up 21%.

Little River and probably most of the streams are flowing low and slow.  Our river is flowing at 68 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.39 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 122 cfs.  The water temperature at 8 am is 69 degrees.

If you go fishing today, go high or at least fairly high.  I would fish above Elkmont or Walker Camp Prong and it’s tributaries.  The water will be cold up there.  I think dry flies will work best but be prepared for anything.  The water is low so concentrate your efforts on the moving water with some chop.  The trout will be hiding there.  Fishing will probably be best early and late but you never know for sure. 

For fly choices I would pick a foam beetle or any yellow stonefly imitation.  I would use a sinking ant or Green Weenie for a dropper or a nymph.

The forest is showing signs of Fall early this year.  I can tell because I walked through 2 spider webs on our lower driveway this morning.  It happened to me a couple of days ago as well.  That usually occurs in September.  Paula and I are parking our car and truck in different places at home since our house is the subject of a remodel.  We have to leave space for workers and the dump trailer. 

The weather forecast keeps changing somewhat but it still appears we have a good chance for rain beginning tomorrow and extending through the weekend.

If you are planning a trip to Townsend be aware that you might get wet this weekend.  On the other hand, if we do get some rain and the streams are not blown out, you could also experience some excellent fishing.  I’d say it’s a crap shoot at this point.  The chance for rain varies depending on which weather website you are checking.  I think we’ll get plenty of rain over the next few days.  The chances are between 40% and 80% between tomorrow and Wednesday.  Most will be in the form of scattered thunderstorms.

Jeff and his son are camping in the backcountry this weekend.  Jeff, if you are reading, stick in an extra tarp for a dry shelter to wait out any storms.  Watch for high water.

I read an article this morning in “In Fisherman”.  This is not a fly fishing magazine but it’s a darned good fishing magazine.  The article was about catching large bluegill.  By large, I mean between 1 and 3 pounds.  The author has caught plenty of big gills.  I couldn’t believe the photos.

I get the magazine free for some reason and usually read most of it.  You can equate conventional fishing to fly fishing if you are willing to do so.

He keeps stressing caloric return on investment.  Those are my words but he suggests, these big fish somehow know, without calculation and reason, how not to use their energy without getting a return on their efforts.  Bottom line is, make the fly or lure look easy to catch for the fish.  Catching a 10” to 12” bluegill on a fly rod is certainly a day to be remembered all your life.  This guy makes a habit out of catching them. 

I hooked and fought what Paula, Frank and I think was a 12” bluegill one time.  We saw it several times during the fight.  The fish eventually ran for a downed tree, I put too much pressure on and broke the fish off.

After that, I switched to 8 pound tippet.  The lake record there is 14”. 

The author also indicated, that a bluegill that wastes energy and not successfully catching food easily, can eventually die.  That kind of explains why these fish seem to look at your fly closely, and move on it slowly.  Genetics must play into this.

I’ve found that larger bluegill are usually deeper.  I think that’s why a Carter’s Rubber Legged Dragon works so well for bull bluegill.  It get’s down.

Another article I read in a prior issue of “In Fisherman” described some data derived from a study about bass weight loss.  Biologists conducted a study about how a bass that is caught and released, fares in the future.  A chart depicted sampling of several bass that were caught, tagged, release then re-caught.  Those fish lost weight for months.  Then, they started to gain weight again.

Since bass can’t talk to humans, we don’t know exactly why that happens.  Do they just quit eating for a while?  Or, did they expend so much energy during the fight, it took that long to recover the lost calories?  Who knows?  I don’t.

I’m always looking for new fly fishing opportunities and go through phases.  I spent many years solely fly fishing for trout.  Then, I targeted tarpon.  Next was and still is smallmouth bass. 

I get to talk to many fly fishermen from the deep south.  When I find one who catches big bluegill, I ask questions.  Eddie from Mississippi is a good example.  At some point, I’m hoping to take our boat to those ponds in the backwaters of the Mississippi River.  Or, maybe to some lakes in Alabama or Georgia.  And over time, I would like to learn to catch 10” to12” bluegill on a fly rod.  It can be done in Tennessee too.

Making a change like this takes research.  Mine can be done by talking to our customers.

I think some of the fly tyers who will be demonstrating at Fly Tyer’s Weekend will be tying bluegill bugs.  Some of them tie for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.  Of course, there will be many trout experts there.

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

Byron Begley
August 7, 2014 

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