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 43 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Fall is fast approaching.  It looks like Fall in the forest and on the streams.  And, Fall is early.

The USGS gauge on Little River below the “Y” is reporting data again.  Right now the flow is 62 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 86 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:10 am was 57 degrees.

Fishing is very good.  Brown and brook trout are showing signs of spawning.  Their colors are brilliant and they are on the move, venturing out into open water.  They seem to sense the coming of Fall which is early in my opinion and that of other seasoned anglers I know.  Everything is early this year.  This has been the warmest year on record so far.

We held another 2- day beginner fly fishing school this weekend.  The students spent the day at the shop on Saturday learning the basics from Walter Babb.  Yesterday, they spent the day in the Smokies, actually fly fishing for the first time.  Josh Pfeiffer and Rob Fightmaster were their instructors.  Both Rob and Josh are guides as well.  It was a beautiful day.  You could not have asked for better weather.  The sun was shining and the high temperature was in the 70’s.  The students were excited yesterday morning.

Josh was working with a lady from Chattanooga.  He was showing here how to fish with a weighted nymph.  Apparently, she was a quick learner.  As they stood in the stream Josh noticed a rather large brown trout, out in the open just a few feet from them.  He pointed out the trout to her.  She made two casts that missed the target.  But on the third cast the fly fell in just the right spot.  She felt something and raised her rod.  The line was tight.  Josh thought she might be hung on the bottom.  But he looked at the trout and it’s head was shaking.  The trout ate her fly and she set the hook.  She had the fish on.

Now that was something one would not expect on their first day of fly fishing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  None of us would expect that to happen.  It gets better. She got the line on her reel and the fight was on.  The brown peeled line and ran for cover.  She went after that fish like an expert.  This lady finally landed an 18” brown, her first trout ever on a fly. 

I saw the pictures when she returned to the store last night.  I told her she was ruined.  “Do you know how often that has happened in the 16 years we have been teaching fly fishing?”  “Never.”  I don’t know of any student who caught an 18” brown trout on their first day on the water in one of our schools. That was an amazing event.  She is an amazing person. 

Tonight, the low will be in the 40’s.  After a brief warm up it will be cool again this weekend.  Rain will be back in the forecast.

Dry flies are working well in the Smokies too.  Most large trout are caught on nymphs but these fish are wary and hard to catch.  So, mix it up some.  Fish with dry flies for a while and switch to a nymph especially if you spot a big fish.

Fly fishing for smallmouth bass should be improving as well in the lowland rivers.  The larger bass will be in the deeper runs and pools during the day. 

Fishing for smallies on the lakes here is picking up.  A friend of mine caught a 23” smallmouth two weeks ago.  That bass would have weighed over 6 pounds.  It was released without being weighed.  I saw that picture too.  That fish was a trophy.

So, it’s time to get out and fish in East Tennessee. 

Robert Bryant from Orvis will be here today showing us all the new gear.  Alex from Blackberry Farm will join us.

Whatever happened to Thomas and Thomas?  I have wondered.  Well, apparently they are alive and well.  Tom Dorsey is still designing the rods.  I remember back in late 70’s and early 80’s T & T had a fly fishing catalog.  They sold rods, reels and other tackle, including fly tying materials through the mail.  I ordered from the company often.  My favorite items were their beautiful reel seats.  Most of the rods I made back then have T & T reel seats on them.  I typically used Orvis blanks.  I still have those rods.

A guy from T & T is flying into Knoxville tomorrow.  He will be meeting with me around noon.  He sent me their new catalog.  It is a piece of art.   

We also wonder what is going on at Cortland.  We have been a dealer since 1994.  But, we have not heard from them lately.  Cortland has been struggling.  Cortland has now been bought by a group of private investors who will revive the company.  They are all avid fly fishermen with management skills and cash.  Brian Ward will remain as the CEO.  The company has been employee owned and most of the people working there have spent their careers with the company.  Their new sales manager will be here next month to meet with us.

So, we’ve got a lot going on right now.  These are exciting times.  There have been many changes lately in the fly fishing business world.  I’m seeing a bright future.

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

Byron Begley
September 24, 2012 

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