Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is overcast right now but the sun’s a come’n. Traffic and human activity is high for a Tuesday in Townsend.  People like Fall around here and they get out and enjoy it.  Nuts are dropping everywhere.  The wild animals have a smorgasbord of mast meals to choose from.  I would say, without any scientific data to collaborate my theory that this is a good year for nuts. 

Little River looks good this morning.  The water level is higher due to the rain we got yesterday.  Flow is 100 cubic per second compared to median flow for this date of 87 cfs.  The water temperature in town was 66 degrees earlier.  It is going to be warm for three days then a cold front will move in for the weekend visitors to enjoy.  We’ll see highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s Saturday and Sunday with no chance for rain.  It is going to be a beautiful weekend.

Right now the water levels are higher than normal.  By the weekend they will most likely be low again.  But, this past weekend provided some good fishing in the Smokies despite the low water.  Trout are taking dry flies and nymphs but the dry is what I would be using now.  I think it’s easier to catch trout on a dry when they are holding in riffles and faster water.  It’s easier for me because I can see the darned thing. 

Try a Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Yellow Stimulator, or a beetle.  I would use a Pheasant Tail for the nymph.  I say that because lately the Green Weenie has not been producing for me.  I guess the low clear water makes the chartreuse bug contrast too much.  In the larger rivers the Green Weenie is probably working well.  Most people I talked to this weekend, who did well, fished in the Elkmont area.  That’s where I would go if the Middle Prong were not so close.  I can be there in 10 minutes or so.

I saw some cool new stuff from Orvis yesterday.  One item is a $200 fly rod.  Orvis used the Clearwater name for this one again.  Daniel ran down to cast it and reported a winner.  The fly lines are new and our Orvis Regional Manager, Robert gave me one to try. I’ll wind it on a 5 weight reel and give it a shot this week. 

Fly shops are littered with sharp pencils right now.  It is buying time for 2012.  Order too much or the wrong mix and you are dead.  Order too little and your profit margin won’t produce enough gross to keep the doors open.  It is crunch time.  I actually enjoy it.  I look forward to challenges and our small industry is facing plenty of them right now.

The fly fishing industry has had a tough year for several reasons including the economy, weather and other factors out of our control.  This is the time for a fly shop owner to make some huge decisions.  Some people don’t think next year will be better.  It may be worse.  But in 17 years, I’ve never seen the industry struggle like it is now.  Of most importance in times like this is inventory control.  You can only stock what sells well or that stuff that doesn’t, keeps you from ordering the stuff that does.

From what I’m hearing, most stores are down and we are in for a slow time.  We are down a little from last year but it’s worse elsewhere.  The numbers are bearing that out.  The manufacturers are friends of mine and they are telling me the truth.  We are reacting, cutting and preparing.  We also have a database that gives us data to make prudent decisions.  Without that, I would be lost right now.  Our store is stocked pretty well for this time of year.  But, we are only buying proven sellers and not taking too many risks.  That equates to longevity and survival.

I remember the early days when Paula and I did not draw any salary and we shoveled in $40,000 per year to keep the store open.  I still work 65 hours a week.  It is still fun though even after all these years.  I look forward to every work day.   

Get ready for a beautiful weekend and hopefully some good fishing.  It is going to feel like Fall and our streams are going to cool off.  At the headwaters the temperature could be in the high 30’s.  Downstream it may drop to the 50’s.  If that happens we are going to see some feeding activity from our local neighborhood fish. 

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

Byron Begley
September 27, 2011


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Our fly fishing classes will be offered from March to October 2011.   To sign up just call the shop at 877-448-3474.  You can read more on our website in the Schools Section.  The fly fishing class schedule follows:

Saturday September 24 – Beginner Day One
Sunday September 25 – Beginner Onstream Day Two
Saturday October 8 – Beginner Day One
Saturday October 22 – Beginner Day One
Sunday October 23 – Beginner Onstream Day Two

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