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 62 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I stopped to talk to Frank, one of our policemen.  Not much has been going on for them.  Traffic is light because it is August.  There are not many visitors in town.  That makes their jobs easier for a while.  They could use a break.

Little River is gradually dropping but there is relief in sight I hope.  We have a chance for rain today, then it is going to be hot until Tuesday.  After that, there is a chance for rain every day for the next few.

Little River is flowing at 47 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 106 cfs.  The water temperature was 67.3 degrees at 8:30 am. 

Fishing is not great, that's for sure. If we get some rain it will be. Fishing in the Smokies will be best in choppy water, in the riffles.  You may also do well by nymphing in the deeper runs.  I would use dry flies, probably a beetle or small yellow Stimulator.  My favorite stream, when the river is low is the East Prong above Elkmont.  Smaller creeks that are shaded will offer better fishing during the day.  Fishing will be best early and late when the sun is off the water.

Our lake levels are dropping.  Some are down a few feet from Summer pool.  TVA and the Corps of Engineers must be trying to keep our shipping lanes open on the Tennessee River, Cumberland River, Tombigbee and the Mississippi.  That is part of their mandate. 

A man told Paula his friend tried to launch a boat in one of the lakes and couldn’t do it.  The ramp ended above the water line.  She and I are planning a trip to Dale Hollow next month.  We like to fly fish for smallmouth bass in the Fall.  And, we really like that lake.  It is beautiful.  After Labor Day the boat traffic is very light during the week.  We may have to change our plans if the water keeps getting lower.

If you look at the Lake Level chart I update every day you will see that the lakes on the Tennessee River do not vary much in elevation.  Today some are down about a foot from full pool. Fort Loudoun, Watts Bar, Chickamauga and Nickajack are four reservoirs listed on that chart that are part of the Tennessee River which provides shipping lanes.  The river is an entry for the Tombigbee Waterway.  The Tennessee flows through Land Between the Lakes and eventually meets the Mississippi River.  These waterways are crucial for commerce.  The Mississippi River was closed to traffic this week due to low water.  Dredging by the Corps of Engineers eventually re-opened the river.

We have had plenty of rain here this year.  We are above normal.  July was the hottest month on record.  It was also dry.  Evaporation compounded by low humidity took its toll on our waterways. 

The Smokies streams, though somewhat low are not anywhere near what we saw during the drought in 2008.  And, these streams have had higher than normal flows much of the time.  What we are seeing here now is just a low cycle.  Two weeks ago we were in a high cycle.  The trout are fine, the fishing has been good this year and we will probably see an up cycle soon.

The Mississippi River is a different set of problems.  That river is suffering from a severe or extreme drought upstream.  Barges are running only partially full compared to normal so they can pass through the shallow water.  That increases the shipping costs of goods. 

Shipping on the Tennessee River has not been affected.  I think it was earlier this year, the Tennessee River was closed to barge traffic because the river was too high near Chattanooga. 

I grew up sharing a river with barges and the boats that propelled them.  River commerce is a very interesting subject and it is part of our heritage that is fun to read about.  Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of that.

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

Byron Begley
August 25, 2012

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