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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is foggy and 65 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I get up early and I go to work early.  I told Paula this morning, “It won’t be long before I’ll be going to work before daybreak”.  It really won’t be long.  That will happen about a month from now.

The fog is burning off and traffic is picking up a little.  We have a slight chance for afternoon thunderstorms today.  Then, the rain is over for a while.  Actually it has been over for a few days.  We did get brief shower yesterday that amounted to 1/10th of an inch.

Little River is still flowing above normal, about 50% above normal.  Currently, flow is 153 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.82 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 111 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:45 am is 66 degrees.

Fishing is good right now in the Smoky Mountains.  It is not good compared to Spring but it is very good for August.  The reason is the higher than normal water and the fact that the water is relatively cool.  You may do best using dry flies or you may catch more fish using nymphs.  It depends on where you are and at what time of day it is.  If the sun is shining which is very likely over the next few days, fishing will be best early or late.  However, you can find some shaded smaller streams and do well during the day. 

As the water levels drop, stealth becomes more important when fly fishing in the mountains.  Stay hidden from the trout.  Don’t cast a shadow on the area where you are fishing.  Fish the choppy water that breaks the trout’s vision so they don’t see you.  Trout prefer broken water when flows are low.  They feel more secure from predators.  Trout will also seek cover in the form of boulders and trees. 

I would use a Parachute Adams, Yellow Stimulator, Yellow Neversink Caddis or foam beetle for a dry fly.  Anglers are doing well with Green Weenies that mimic a sourwood worm or inch worm.  Fish them as a dropper or as a weighted nymph.  All of these flies are good choices for fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains during the Summer.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in our studio photographing a pair of waders for Chota.  I do most of their photography.  Waders are tough to photograph.  The current subject is the new camo wader Chota just introduced.  The waders are suspended from a bar in front of a white background.  The waders are stuffed with bubble wrap.  I have three 36” flash light boxes pointed at them.  The wireless remote control on my camera fires all three flashes at the same time. 

Yesterday, I would shoot a photo and e-mail it to Mark who is the Sales Manager.  He would report back.  “The left leg looks thinner than the right”.  So, I would re-arrange the stuffing and shoot again.  We did this a few times.  They want their pictures to be done right.  So do I.  After the final shot was made, I clipped the waders from the background using Adobe Photoshop and color corrected the image.  I think we’re done with this shot.  Next will be a field photograph in a waterfowl hunting scene on a nearby lake.

I like the folks at Chota.  We are good friends. I enjoy working with them. 

U.S Fish and Wildlife (USFW) is releasing their survey which is done every 5 years.  I am especially interested in the fishing part of the survey.  They have not posted all of the results but I’m patiently waiting.  OK, I’m impatiently waiting.

The population of the United States as of 2012 is 313 million people.  33.1 million people fish.  So, about 10% of the population likes to go fishing.  USFW also estimates that 3.83 million people in the United States are fly anglers.  That is 1.2% of the population.

Looking at data from a recent American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) survey, we know that a large percentage of fly fishing gear is sold in the Western States. 

That is what makes marketing and surviving in the fly fishing business tough.  Participation in the sport is limited to 1 out of 100 people.  And, in the East, that number is probably lower.

So, you can forget traditional advertising and marketing if you own a fly shop.  It won’t work.  You would be wasting your money.  You would go broke quickly.

We are a tiny industry.  Sales in small to medium retail fly fishing stores in the United States amounts to $748.6 million according to AFFTA.  That number does not include big chain stores.  Traditional brick and mortar stores sell 83.3% of the total.  13.3% of fly fishing goods are sold online.  So, lets say the fly fishing industry is around $900 million.  It could be more, or it could be less.

An article in the Wall Street Journal states U.S. toilet paper industry sales are $8.8 billion annually.  If my math is correct, the toilet paper industry is about 10 times larger than the fly fishing industry.  I hope my math and facts are correct.  I am prone to mistakes.

One thing is certainly correct, we are a small player in a small industry.  I feel comfortable here. 

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

Byron Begley
August 24, 2013

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