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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 64 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I noticed a little fog and light traffic on my way to work.  From what I hear, traffic is light in Sevier County through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  They must have the same absence of visitors we do.  August is that way.  We expect it.  This is really a good time to visit the Smoky Mountains.

Little River is flowing at 43 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 107 cfs.  The water temperature was 69 degrees at 7:55 am.

Fishing in the Smokies is tough for some anglers and good for others.  Those who know how to fish low water and find the streams that are productive will catch some trout.  Bright sun is not good for fishing when the water is low the trout are hiding from predators.  That is their natural instinct.  So, you will do better fishing the shaded water.  Fishing early and late is also a good idea when the water is low and the days are sunny.  You will most likely find the trout in the choppy water.  Fish will be in the riffles and faster runs.  They will not stay in the swift current for long.  That uses too much energy.  They will be behind current breaks like rocks.  They may be in front of boulders too.

I would use dry flies, probably a Yellow Neversink Caddis, Yellow Stimulator, foam beetle pattern of some kind or maybe a Parachute Adams.  A beetle is always a good fly to use when conditions are like this.  Very large foam flies such as a Chernobyl Ant might entice the larger trout.  If you fish the deep runs and dry flies are not working a weighted nymph might be just the ticket.

From what I’m hearing, the tailwaters are fishing well for trout and smallmouth bass.

The lake levels are dropping every day.  I update the chart below that shows the current lake levels daily.  I have to adjust two or three lakes out of the group each morning.  The adjustments are down in most cases.

The impoundments on the Tennessee River are the exception.  Watts Bar may drop a foot then be back up to normal the next day.  The same is true for Tellico, Fort Loudoun, Nickajack and others.  Those lakes have commerce shipping lanes.  The Tennessee River also feeds other rivers that have heavy barge traffic. 

On the other hand, the secondary lakes that feed the Tennessee River have to release water to keep the commercial navigation rivers at an acceptable level.  That’s the rub. 

TVA is also mandated through resolutions to maintain normal lake levels during the Summer for recreation.  That mandate has not been met because commerce on the large rivers is a higher priority.  Producing hydroelectric power is another conflict with keeping lake levels high for recreation during the Summer months.  It’s a balancing act for TVA.  The absence of rain here lately, the drought in much of the Nation, and the need to keep the barges running result in lower secondary lakes.

So, we are seeing some of our favorite fishing lakes dropped several feet below Summer pool. 

Tonight at 6:30 pm I am meeting with the Laurel Valley Property Owners Association Board.  This is a special “called” meeting.  We will be reviewing the Laurel Lake Concept Plan.  As Chair, I appointed three people who serve on that board to also serve on the Lake Concept Plan Committee.  We are preparing for the first public meeting to be held in October. 

I’ve worked on public projects before usually as the person in charge.  The toughest one was handling the Tennessee Department of Transportation demand that all physical encroachments on the right-of-way through Townsend be moved immediately.  Since the 1950’s buildings, signs, fences and other business structures have been on the right-of-way.  I represented the City.  I held three public meetings.  Those attending were upset.  I think it is going to work out and everyone will be happy or at least satisfied that they were not picked on.

I was in charge of buying the 10 acre tract of land next to the Visitors Center.  That required many meetings with hotel/motel/campground owners and the County Commission.  A private act had to go through the House and Senate.  After two years of hard work, it happened.  Funding of the purchase came from an increase in the hotel/motel tax.  The land was bought for $1.4 million.

Serving as Chairman of Troutfest was fun but a huge commitment in time.  My service lasted for three years. 

And now it is Laurel Lake.  There will be public meetings, fundraising, grants, several permits with TDEC and the Corps of Engineers and actual dam design.  If this happens there will be excavating, a concrete dam overflow and amenities to be built.  Volunteers will be constructing a walking trail and boardwalk over the wetland areas.  It is going to be a huge project with many obstacles and disappointments along the way.  I hope this works out.

What it takes to do any of these jobs is a commitment of your personal time and a “Fear of Failure.”  Each project listed above took 200+ hours of my time every year.  That equates to 4 normal work-weeks or a month out of each year devoted to volunteer time. 

Thankfully for all of us, many other people in our community do the same thing.  We are referred to as the “Volunteer State”.  That badge of honor was bestowed on Tennessee after the battle at the Alamo. 

Citizens who serve on the Laurel Lake project will give a lot of their personal time to see this through.  I see people with passion, tenacity and a dream to have something else that is beautiful and enjoyable in our County.  We already have Great Smoky Mountains National Park and many other special places.  Support is coming from people who do not live in our County.  They did at one time.  There are many folks who spent part of their childhood at the Laurel Lake Youth Camp.  Re-building this body of water and park will bring back their childhood memories in sharp focus.  They will be able to stand in the spot where the camp once stood and look out at that lake.  They will tell their grandchildren about their own childhood.

It’s easy to spend time on volunteer work when you know that there are a lot of other people doing the same thing and it benefits many people. I see people doing it every day.  I will say that all of this cuts into your fishing time.  I don’t like that part of it.

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

Byron Begley
August 27, 2012

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