Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast and 65 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It is beautiful out there, if you happen to be a fisherman.  I love overcast days.  The trout and other species are less spooky.  The wind is going to be out of the north today.  That’s good.  The high temperature is supposed to be 80 degrees.  That’s awesome!  There is a 40% chance for rain.  That can be good too, for us.

Little River is flowing at 139 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.77 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 119 cfs.  The water temperature is 65 degrees, just like the air. 

You could not ask for better fishing conditions in the Smokies.  I prefer a little more flow but many anglers like it just as it is.  These are excellent dry fly conditions.  I would make mine a Yellow Stimulator, Parachute Adams or Yellow Neversink Caddis.  For a nymph I would definitely use a Green Weenie. 

The higher elevation brook trout streams are fishing excellent.  You may find some low flows up there on some streams today.  I would fish a lower elevation stream.  If this cloud cover stays with us all day, fishing is going to be very good in the Smokies.

There are some good fishing opportunities for those who wade and want to fish the Clinch River today.  TVA plans to generate with one turbine from 10:00 until 2:00 pm.  Remember, they don’t always follow their plan.  You folks who fish the tailwaters know what to do today.  First, check the TVA website and make your own plan.  Then, get going. At 2:00 pm they plan to run more generators.  Again, check the website yourself.  Things can change.

I look at the Norris and Cherokee dam generation schedules every morning. It appears, on most days, it is prudent to be there early in the morning.  You may want to fish downstream, way below the dams so when the water does come up, it will take a while to reach where you are.  I don’t fish the tailwaters so I don’t know the protocol.  Always check the TVA website yourself. 

TVA is generating often and for long periods of time this year to keep the lakes at the preferred level on their operating guide.  Both Norris and Cherokee lakes are high, at the top of TVA’s preferred level.  I’m looking at Norris right now.  The lake is currently right at the high mark and higher than last year on this date.  It is probably the same with most lakes in our region.  Rainfall amounts this year are way higher than normal.

TVA is always trying to keep things in balance.  They try to keep the lakes fairly high during the Summer boating season.  They try to keep the lakes low enough to have storage capacity in the event of heavy rain and flooding.  TVA lowers most of the lakes during the Winter, anticipating Spring rains.  They want to provide good fishing opportunities below the dams.  But, they have to hold back water at times because rivers downstream are flooded. Those flooded rivers may be the Ohio River, Mississippi River or the Tennessee River.  Once those flooded rivers recede, they have to let the water out of the lakes to create storage capacity.  What a balancing act!

I enjoy the lakes we have here.  Paula and I go fly fishing on a lake almost every week during the Spring, Summer and Fall.  We have so many lakes, and a low density of population by comparison, we’ve pretty much got the water to ourselves.  We do fish on weekdays because I work on weekends.  So, we don’t see the crowds.

This year, lake boating activity has been low.  The marina operators and TWRA have told me that.  I guess bad weather on weekends have been the main reason. 

We have still had our share of boating accidents and drowning victims around here this year.  I am always sad when I read about someone drowning.  I grew up on boats in rivers and on lakes.  I have witnessed a few accidents, and two of them had fatalities. 

Boating can be very safe. Here is what we do.  When we are running fast, we wear self-inflatable hydrostatic life vests.  These things are expensive at first.  They seem inexpensive if you are thrown or fall out of a boat.

We keep an eye on the weather forecasts.  If the wind gusts are expected to exceed 10 miles per hour, we don’t go.   

I hook the engine kill switch to my body when we are running fast.  If I get thrown out, the engine quits.  We can’t go too fast because our boat’s top speed might be 20 miles per hour but you can still get thrown out at that speed if you hit something like a boat, rock or a log.

Always have a couple of throwable floating cushions on board.  It’s the law!

Don’t dive into a lake or river.  I lost two good friends who did just that.

We don’t overload our boat.  I did that once and swamped my boat when I was a kid.

Most importantly, drink your adult beverages when you get home.  Many fatal boat accidents occur because those on board are intoxicated.  I have lost other friends due to drinking too much while on a boat.

If you follow these suggestions, you should have a very safe experience in a boat.

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

Byron Begley
August 17, 2013

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