Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and cool this morning.  Townsend is quiet.  I saw a few cars on my way to work but the parking lots at restaurants and motels are bare.  I searched the news websites this morning starting at 6 am.  I couldn’t find anything to show you.  There is no news for the Smokies today.  Little River was moving slow.  The deep pool under the swinging bridge was inviting.  Most of the big rocks and ledges are visible and I know that pool is full of large smallmouth bass and rock bass.  After the cool-off comes, I’ll be down there fishing after work and before work.

The cool-off is coming.  Most weather websites agree that the high on Monday will be 78 to 80 degrees.  The highs for the next few days after we get through this scorching weekend will be in the low to mid 80’s.  The lows at night will be in the 50’s to 60.  That is about normal.  Like last year, the week before the Labor Day Weekend was extremely hot.  Then we cooled down some.

The bad news is the river level or the water level in all the Smokies streams.  They are low.  Today, Little River is flowing at 34 cubic feet per second.  Median flow for this date is 91 cfs.  The lowest recorded low on this date was 31 in 1987.  Again, our river is flowing at about it’s record low.  There is some rain in the forecast for a few days but the chances are not high.  We may have to live with the low flow for a while.

Fishing is slow.  Everyone is saying so.  Most people in the know, can tell you that without going fishing.  You can catch trout in the Smokies right now.  They are in the riffles and they are most likely to take your fly early and late in the day.  But, your chances for success diminish during periods of low flow and that’s what we have right now.

You can fish high and hopefully find some good water.  You can hike into the backcountry and locate some shaded streams or you can fish the smaller areas of Little River and catch a few.  Try terrestrial dry flies.  Give ants and beetles a go.  A Green Weenie is a good sub-surface choice.  Most importantly right now is stealth and getting a good drift.  The trout are spooky so don’t let your fly line land on the most likely spots.  Use light tippet.  Don’t cast a shadow over the water you are fishing.  Blend in with your surroundings.

Fishing for smallmouth bass is probably slow in the lower rivers.  Even the Little Pigeon is very low.  Anglers were catching bass on the LP a week ago so your chances there might be fine.  The runs in the lower portions of Little River that usually hold nice bass are not so good right now.  You will do better fishing the big deep pools from a belly boat or kayak.  Poppers are working.

The tailwaters should be fine.  That’s where I would go today.  The trout sections closer to the dam and the lower sections in the smallmouth water would be a good place to fish right now.

The lakes are mostly too warm for shallow water fishing with a fly rod.  The exception would be those with cool water flushing through from dams.  Our cool water lakes fish fine if there is enough generation to keep the cold water moving.  If the generation is curtailed or cut back, the surface water is going t warm up.  Most of the fish will be deep.

I spent much of my day off yesterday learning about one of our coolwater lakes, Melton Hill.  I downloaded a map and had it and Google Earth on the big monitor at home.  Melton Hill receives it’s flow from below Norris Dam.  That water is very cold.  It is a small lake with another dam pulling water out for hydroelectric purposes and to allow barges to lock through.  Looking at the depths and features was interesting.

Melton Hill Lake is becoming known across the United States as a trophy musky lake.  I saw one photo online yesterday of a guy holding a 53” fish.  Another showed an angler holding a 50” musky in his boat with a fly rod laying next to him.  Image that, a 50” musky on a fly rod.

I planned to tie some Puglisi flies yesterday.  I intended to tie the big ones, 5” to 6” in length.  They take an hour or more to do it correctly.  They would target stripers.  I tied a couple of huge shad patterns.  Then I tied some smaller 4” patterns and colored them to look like a smallmouth bass.  I would use those for big smallmouth bass.  But I kept thinking as I tied about musky flies.  That will give me something to research and tie over the next few weeks.  One website devoted to musky fishing on Melton Hill reported the fish are active right now in shallow water.  Evidently, you just cruise the shore with your trolling motor and look for them.  I plan to learn a lot more about that.

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

Byron Begley
September 1, 2011 

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Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:

Saturday September 10 – Beginner Day One
Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

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