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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is very foggy and 56 degrees in Townsend this morning.  It feels great outside.  Yesterday, plenty of folks visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was one of those days that have been rare lately, that was comfortable and cool.  Today will be another.  The high is supposed to be 78 degrees. 

Little River is flowing low again.  Currently, the flow is 44 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 80 cfs.  The water temperature at the “Y” was 64.5 degrees at 8:05 am.  That is the coolest temperature reading we have had in months. 

Fishing is OK in the Little River watershed.  The water is low and you need to fish in the choppy water where the trout are concentrated and hiding.  They will also be in the deep runs.  Some other streams in the Park have had more rain.  Lately, the rain is missing us.  There is no chance for rain until Saturday and that chance is only 20% at this point.  The odds are a little better on Sunday.

So, now is the time to learn more about fishing in low water.  I would use a short leader and cast a dry fly into the pockets.  Pockets refer to water, usually behind a boulder that blocks the current.  There, the water is deeper and the trout can stay in those spots without fighting the current and using up precious energy.  There is often enough current to conceal the fish.  They are watching for food drifting by in the faster water.  If something that looks like an aquatic or terrestrial insect goes by the trout will often run out into the current and grab it.  The water in front of boulders is also a good place to cast your fly.  That water is slower too in most cases.

Insects also land on the water in the pocket.  If you can cast a dry fly in the pocket and keep the current from pulling it out you stand a good chance of getting a strike.  Keeping a dry fly in a pocket is not easy.  Holding your rod high and keeping your line off the water is a good strategy.  You have to be close to do that and you can be spotted by the fish. Wear subdued clothing or camo.  Hide behind large boulders.  

Drifting a dry fly or nymph down a run in a riffle is easier to accomplish.  You can cast a little further and hopefully avoiding drag which is a term describing your fly being pulled by another faster or slower current and causing it to move faster or slower than the current it is in.  It takes practice and lots of line mending to accomplish this.  All it takes is a few seconds of good drift to attract a trout to your fly.  The longer your good drift is sustained, the better your chances.

A nymph works well in these circumstances.  Try using a strike indicator if you don’t feel the strikes.

The tailwaters are fishing well, including the Clinch River.  I noticed Phil posted on our message board about the fishing there.  On a sad note, a man drowned in the Clinch River Friday afternoon.  He fell out of a small jon boat above the weir dam.  The water was cold of course and evidently he was not wearing a life jacket.  I hate to hear that bad news.  I feel bad for his family.

Another customer and friend came in yesterday.  He fell in the strong current in a deep river in Alaska a month ago.  He almost drowned.  He had accidentally left his wading belt on the bank.  I’m glad that turned out well.  He did lose his rod and reel. 

Paula, me and our guide rescued a man who fell into the Manistee River in Michigan a few years ago.  He was not wearing a wader belt.  We got to him just in time.  He would have been swept through a long deep run.  He would have certainly drowned.  We held on to him while our guide motored us to shore.  He stood up, our guide gave him a warning about not wearing a wading belt and we drove off.  I kept watching the man as we drove away.  I’ll be darned if he didn’t fall in again.  We turned around and pulled him back to shore once more.  I think maybe adult beverages played into his series of mishaps.

Paula and I have self inflating life vests.  They are made by Mustang Survival, a Canadian company.  We wear them most of the time, even a the boat dock where many drowning events occur.  Anglers slip while stepping into their boats, hit their head and slide into the water unconscious.  We wear them when we are underway.  If I’m in the boat alone, I never take mine off. 

These vests were not cheap.  They cost around $280 each.  When the vest is submerged 4” below the water surface the pressure activates a compressed air cylinder and they inflate.  You can get them wet and they won’t deploy.  It is the hydrostatic pressure that activates the mechanism.  I highly recommend a vest like this or at least one that you can manually activate.  I have owned boats for over 50 years.  I’ve seen bad boating accidents.  I’ve watched people drown.  Boats are dangerous.  You can reduce your risk by simply wearing a life jacket and hooking up your kill switch when you are motoring.  You also need to stay sober.

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

Byron Begley
September 10, 2012 

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