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.  Traffic was light on my way to work. It is still transition time here.  The visitors will arrive later this month.  People are enjoying this beautiful weather in the Smokies.  Go up high or venture into the backcountry and you will be comfortable all day.

The streams are low.  Little River is flowing at 36 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 87 cfs.  The water temperature at 7:40 am was 65 degrees.  

We may get some rain this weekend but the chances are better on Monday.  High temperatures for the weekend will be in the low 80’s.  Lows will be in the 50’s.  Next week will be cooler with highs in the 70’s. 

Fishing in the Smoky Mountains is good for some and not so good for others.  The low water is forcing the trout to hide as best they can.  You will find them in the riffles and deep runs.  A dry fly with a dropper fished in the pockets and runs seems to be working best.  I would use a black foam beetle for a dry and drop a Green Weenie off the dry.  Other dry fly patterns and nymphs will work fine too.  Presentation and stealth are of utmost importance when the water is this low.

Alex and Daniel had a good day yesterday fishing in the Park.  They are the guys who take care of Blackberry Farm’s fly fishing guests.  They had a good day because they are excellent anglers.  They are professionals.  They have patience and enthusiasm.  And, they fished all day. 

The lakes are fishing better.  Alex showed me a picture of a smallmouth bass he caught that measured about 23”.  It was huge! 

Paula and I plan to fish on the lakes for a week starting day after tomorrow.  I didn’t expect the fishing to be good until I saw Alex’s smallie.  That gave me hope.  Lately, we have been taking a week off to fly fish for smallmouth bass in the early Fall and we haven’t had a lot of luck.  The water is still warm in mid-September. We do catch largemouth bass and bluegill.

I usually have a rod, an 8 weight lined up with a sinking fly line in the boat.  Fishing deep with a fly is not my favorite way to fish.  This fall, we plan to change that.  Today I’m going to buy some sink tip lines with long sinking heads for lighter rods, 6 wt and 7 wt.  We are going to be doing more fishing in the lower depths this time.  Maybe we’ll learn something new.

We will be fishing for bluegill and shellcrackers too.  For that, we will be using long leaders and weighted nymphs.  My favorite fly for that kind of fishing is Carter's Rubber Legged Dragon.  I was packing last night and checking our back-stock of dragons at home.  I bet we have at least 100 of them in all colors.  Rust seems to work best.  These flies are weighted with bead chain eyes in various sizes.  Using a 12 foot leader gets them down pretty deep.  We just cast them out and let them sink, keeping a tight line so we can feel the strike.  After the fly drops for a while we start a slow retrieve.  Big bull bluegill will often strike the dragon.  Other species will hit them too.  Don’t be surprised if you catch a channel catfish.  They like dragons.

We are holding a very important Laurel Lake Concept Plan Committee meeting today.  I have a well planned update to present.  We will be joined this time with several new participants.  Melody Silverberg will be there.  She is President of the Laurel Valley Property Owners Association.  Tom Faulkner will be there representing the Appalachian Bear Rescue and the Tuckaleechee Wildlife Center.  Joe Huff from Parks and Rec will attend.  I think Randy Vinyard will be there.  He is our County’s Budget Director.  We are meeting at County Mayor Ed Mitchell’s office.  The other committee members have been working on this project for almost a year.  Most of them will be there.  Mike Talley who serves on our committee just recently became Townsend’s Mayor.

I talked to Dan Eagar yesterday.  He works in the Water Quality Division of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in Nashville.  Two important streams in the watershed are listed as impaired.  Tipton Branch which is the larger tributary flowing into the old lake bed is one of them.  I found the impairment online.  The main problem with Tipton Branch is silt.  Tipton Branch flows into Short Creek, a spring creek that runs behind our home.  Short Creek eventually flows into Little River. 

One of the sample sites at Short Creek is actually on our property at home.  We are near the headwaters and the stream there is not considered impaired or so I’ve been told.  But further downstream, E. Coli was found in the water.  I think that has been corrected.  Cattle were “loafing” in the stream.  Loafing is actually a term used by water quality professionals.  I’ve seen cattle loafing in streams and ponds all my life.  I always called it “wading”. 

Dan and I talked about constructed wetlands built in a forest.  My question was, would that have a cooling effect on the water.  It does. The warm water effluent from an open lake flowing through a constructed wetland shaded by trees would cool the water and improve the water quality.

Have a great day and I hope you get to do some “loafing” this weekend.  Thanks for being here with us.

Byron Begley
September 13, 2012 

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