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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 48 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Wow, does it feel like Fall?  You bet it does.  Today’s high temperature will be in the low 70’s.

The USGS water flow gauge is not transmitting data.  Transmission ceased about noon yesterday.  The water flow should be about normal.  It was a little above normal yesterday.  Median flow for this date is 76 cubic feet per second.  The water temperature was 61 degrees at 8:05 am this morning.

Fishing is good.  The conditions are good.  Flow is about normal or a little above normal at every gauge station I could check this morning.  And, water temperatures are cooler than they have been in a while.  Cataloochee is reporting a water temperature reading of 55.4 degrees right now.

Try dry flies first.  Pick a foam beetle, Elk Hair Caddis, #16 Yellow Stimulator or a Parachute Adams.  Anything reasonable should work.  A good nymph selection would be a Prince Nymph, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear or Tellico.  Those are my favorites but others will work. 

I would choose a small backcountry stream.  I like to fish in the shade when the sun is shining like it is now.  You will have an enjoyable day in the Smokies and you won’t be bothered by a lot of people until the leaves turn further in a couple of weeks.  It is starting to look like Fall and it certainly feels that way. 

Well, I assembled our Laurel Lake Concept Plan Committee for a meeting week before last.  We met at County Mayor Ed Mitchell’s office.  The County owns the 144 acres where Laurel Lake once lived.  The 50 acre lake was drained 20 years ago.  We are working to build it back.  The citizens and the Government put me in charge.

Our concept plan included many ideas, some good and some not so good.  We have picnic pavilions, a fishing pier, small boat dock, and trails drawn on the plan.  And, we had a disc golf course on the plan.  That has changed.  Our new plan eliminated the disc golf course.  In its place will be a 60 acre Class 1 Natural Area. Actually the whole 144 acres is considered a Class 1 Natural Area.  Of that land, the Appalachian Bear Rescue will use 25 acres.  We envision the balance of that portion of the property will be used as a wetland and waterfowl habitat with trails winding through.  The lake property will still have the “paddle only” boating facilities and the picnic areas.  The trails around the lake and across the wetlands will remain.

Ed, our County Mayor asked me to continue with planning, permitting and design.  I’m putting a new team together to do that.  One of the team members is a structural engineer with prior job experience with the Corps of Engineers.  I met with him yesterday morning.  Last night I talked to a friend who is a retired fisheries biologist with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.  He has plenty of wetland experience.  He said he is on board.  I will be contacting a geologist who also has wetland experience.  We have a landscape architect on the team.  Our mission includes:

Obtain an Environmental Permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).  This will be a environmental enhancement project in addition to providing recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat.

Obtain a permit and grant from the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Conduct geotechnical testing on the lakebed and dam.

Design water flows to the wetland below the dam. Design constructed wetlands and waterfowl habitat below the dam.  Involve Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be part of the team. 

Design alterations to the Dam.

Obtain a permit from the TDEC Safe Dams Project to actually alter the dam and back up the lake.

Work with the United States Marines Engineering Unit in Knoxville who will do the excavating.

This is a huge job.  I’m not taking any more volunteer jobs until this is done, denied or can’t be done due to lack of funding.  We have been working on this for a year already. 

This week I’m going to spend some time at the County Clerk’s office getting copies of the deeds and surveys of the property.  I’ll pick up the TDEC environmental application package from the Mayor.  TDEC sent it to him.  I will be meeting with members of our design team.

Additionally I will be working in a fly shop.

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

Byron Begley
September 23, 2012 

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