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 66 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Traffic is light but there are plenty of visitors in our resort town.  Fall is fast approaching.  It may be hot right now, but the signs of Fall are plainly visible in the forest. Leaves are dropping.  Spiders are building webs.  Gatherers are gathering.  Bears are storing fat.  Even the brown trout are out during the day.

We got some rain in the Smokies early this morning.  Little River’s level shot up a little but it is falling now.  Currently, flow is 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.62 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 81 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:50 am is 68.8 degrees.

I have been off for two days so I’m out of touch with what is going on in the Smokies.  I’ve been fishing elsewhere.  I did read Daniel’s reports this morning.  It is what you would expect.  The water is low though not as low as normal.  You will need to use low-water tactics when fly fishing in the Smokies.

First, I would fish early and late when the sun is off the water.  Next, I would choose a small shaded stream somewhere away from the roads.  The trout along the roads have a lot more experience evading capture by anglers.  Use fine tippet, maybe as light as 6X.  Wear subdued clothing so you will blend in with your surroundings.  You don’t want the trout to see you.  Fish the choppy water.  That may be a run where a riffle enters a pool.  It might be a riffle or a run between riffles.  If you fish in the riffles, hit the slow water pockets downstream from boulders. 

You must get a good drift.  The fly needs to be moving at the same rate of speed as the current.  If it’s not, even the dumbest trout will know something is wrong and they will not normally eat your fly.  To do this, make short casts and try to keep you fly line off the water as much as you can, especially in the riffles where there are many conflicting currents. 

If you do this you should catch some trout.  Of course, I’m the one who got skunked yesterday on the Little Tennessee River. 

It was a beautiful morning.  Paula and I launched the boat at 8:00 am.  There were only two trucks with trailers at the ramp.  We drove the boat 3 miles upstream where the water would be cooler.  The water was 63 degrees, perfect for smallmouth bass.  We were on the river for 4 ½ hours.  We only saw one other boat. 

Fishing was awful.  Nothing worked.  Last week the smallies were holding at 6’ or deeper.  They took crayfish patterns until the sun came up.  Then the fishing died.  Well, yesterday it was dead all day where we were.  Maybe the lack of anglers would indicate that most people know something I don’t.  Anyway, we had a nice day.  We were loaded and driving home at 1:30 pm.  I took two days off and it felt like a vacation.  I usually take only one day off each week.

I seldom pay much attention to the fish finder on our boat.  I look at the depth and water temperature but hardly actually watch the monitor for fish.  Yesterday was different.  I took the time to actually look at those icons that resemble fish and even show how far they are below the boat.  I saw plenty of fish, down deep.  If the boat was in 20 feet of water, the fish were at 18 feet.  In 12 feet of water, they were about 10 feet down.

We never have any spinning or bait casting outfits on the boat.  We strictly fish with fly rods.  Yesterday, I could not help but to go back to my childhood and wonder what it would be like to dangle live bait right down to where these fish were. 

When I was a kid, we didn’t have fish finders.  You never knew what was down there.  I probably tended to overestimate the numbers and size of the fish below the boat our where I was casting.  That increased the level of anticipation and fun.  I guess you could get out there with live bait, look at your monitor, find the appropriate fish and lower the minnow or worm down to the fish while paying close attention to the depth indicator on your reel. 

Maybe someday, when I’m too old to stand up all day and cast a 7 weight fly rod, I’ll give bait fishing or trolling some serious consideration.  That day is not here.  I’ll admit, I did get on the Cabellas website last night and looked at downriggers used for trolling.  With today’s technology you could read the exact depth on your fish finder, see the fish below or to the side of your boat, dial in the depth you want to troll on the downrigger and darned near bump the fish in the nose with your lure.  I say that with a huge lack of knowledge.  It can’t be that easy.

We have a chance for rain this afternoon and tonight.  Then, it is going to really feel like Fall.  The low temperature tomorrow night is predicted to be 51 degrees.  I better dig out my fleece jackets.  Low temperatures over the next 10 days will range from the low 50’s to the high 50’s.  High temperatures will be in the high 70’s to low 80’s.  This is going to be awesome.  There is very little chance for rain throughout this period.  They are saying there is a 60% chance a week from tomorrow.

Man, I’m looking forward to the next few days.

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

Byron Begley
September 12, 2013

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