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 64 degrees in Townsend this morning. I drove to work at 8:00 am, which is late for me.  I had to bring some fly rods into the house.  I left them on the porch all night.  That’s not a good thing to do.  Some wandering bear could get tangled up in them.  They would be destroyed.

No rain today!  Actually, there is no rain for several days in the forecast.  The high temperature is supposed to be 86 degrees today, which is about what we are expecting all week.  Lows at night will be in the low 60’s.

Little River looks perfect for early September.  Flow is currently 132 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.75 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 99 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:05 is 66.5 degrees.

I was off yesterday so I didn’t talk to any anglers.  I’m sure fishing is very good.  You will have to use your low water tactics.  Though the water levels are higher than normal, normal is low this time of year.  Stay hidden, fish the choppy water and riffles and blend in.  I would not waste my time fishing the slow moving pools.  You might see a trout but they will see you.  At these water levels, the trout are hiding in the rough water. 

The Neversink seems to be the fly of choice from what I’m reading and hearing lately.  Many other patterns will work.  A black beetle would be “killer” right now.  So is a Green Weenie or Barbie Bug.  The trout will eat about anything that looks like food.  Pick a fly that you can see.  The trout are hungry and hatches are not heavy like they are in the Spring.

Bill just came in.  He fished the Park yesterday and said the fishing was good.  He even said he was fishing behind someone and still did well.  Bill is an excellent fly fisherman.

I would fish the smaller creeks that are shaded and use light tippet.  If you spook the trout or don’t get a good drift, you probably won’t catch any trout.

I had a customer tell me this week that he camped at Elkmont for three days this past weekend and only caught two trout.  He has camped and fished there for years.  He went on to ask where I got my information, that fishing around and above Elkmont is good.  The same thing happened to him a few months ago.  I didn’t know what to say. 

We talk to hundreds of fishermen every week.  We personally know many of them.  If there were some major fish kill in the Elkmont area, we would know about it. I know of one angler who caught a 23 ½” brown within a mile of the campground two weeks ago.  Maybe he was always fishing behind someone else. 

Paula and I went fishing for smallmouth bass on the Little Tennessee River yesterday.  The Little T is a series of dams and lakes that are low on nutrients and baitfish.  The water is extremely clear.  Those lakes are not an easy place to fish.  We saw only two boats during the 5 hours we were there.  Anglers know these lakes are tough to fish.

We do great for smallies in the Spring on some days and get skunked on others.  So far, until now, it has been slow for us during the Summers.  We usually switch to largemouth bass and bluegill during the warm months.

I know the smallmouth bass go deep during the warm months.  I’ve been trying to figure out a system to catch them on a fly this time of year and I’m getting closer.  I really don’t like using sinking fly lines but I will if I have to. 

First, I designed a fly that looks similar to t crayfish.  It has a rabbit fur tail, a root beer colored pearl chenille body, lots of silicone legs and rabbit fur tied in near the hook eye.  Weight is supplied by extra large black bead chain eyes tied in on the top of the hook at the eye.  The hook rides up, Clouser style.  The hook is a Gamakatsu B10S #6 bass stinger hook.

What I have done, the last two times we’ve been out there is keep the boat pretty far away from the bank and cast into deeper water.  The fly is allowed to sink deep, 6 to 8 feet before I begin a very slow jerky retrieve.  I’m starting to catch a few smallies.  I had four strikes yesterday, missed one, lost one and landed two.  I was using a floating line and a 9’ fluorocarbon leader.  When the sun hit the water, the action was over.  This same pattern worked week before last about 3 miles from where we were fishing yesterday.

What I don’t like about this system is, the hook rides up.  That is helpful when trying to slowly move a fly over rock substrate and branches.  I don’t get hung up very often.  The problem is, I’m hooking these fish in the upper mouth or worse further back in the roof of their mouth.  I’m worried about mortality.  I don’t want to kill any of these smallmouth bass. 

Tonight I plan to tie some of these patterns with the weight on the lower part of the shank so the hook rides down.  I’m also planning to tie in some weed guards, two of them, under the fly and extending past the hook point.  I’ll probably use 50 or 60 pound fluorocarbon, which is very stiff, for the weed guards.  I’ll try that next week and report back to you.  I want to start hooking these fish in the lower jaw.

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

Byron Begley
September 5, 2013

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