Townsend, Tennessee
September 29, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 48 degrees.  The air is clear and I can see for miles.  The mountains look different due to the clear air.  I can see the lush green trees in unbelievable detail.  It would be nice to be off today.  It feels like Fall and already this morning the subject of conversation around here has changed from fishing to hunting.  Of course when the store opens this morning we’ll switch back to fishing.

Little River looked fantastic too.  The water temperature is 58 degrees in town.  It’s cooler than that in the mountains.  The flow is still high so if you are wading be careful.  Right now at the “Y” the gauge is reading 2.82 feet and the discharge is 553 cubic feet per second.  That compares to normal for this date of 90 cfs and the reading in 2007 was 18 cfs.  I believe that was the lowest reading during that drought.  If it dropped below 18, I don’t remember it. 

Fishing is picking up.  I talked to customers yesterday who verified that.  The trout are active, fat and sassy in the Park.  Fishing should be fine at all elevations.  It is going to be cool for a while.  The lows at night are going to be in the 40’s to low 50’s.  Highs will be in the 60’s to low 70’s.  The water will stay cool and the fishing will be good.  The conditions are perfect except for the higher than usual water.  That should be perfect too in a day or so.

Chuck told me this morning he floated the Holston yesterday in a canoe and the fishing was good. He caught trout and smallmouth bass.  But, the wind gave them fits in that canoe.  And, the leaves were blowing off the trees.  Get ready for that. 

I didn’t get a day off last week and probably won’t this week.  After working 14 days straight I’ll be ready for the woods and waters next week.  Our boat has not been in the water for ten days.  I’ve been either taking pictures of fishing tackle or staring at this computer.  At least I’m riding my bicycle at night.  I’m trying to get into better shape for the bear and boar hunt in two weeks.

Ray Ball was going bear hunting yesterday.  I don’t know how he did.  He offered to take me but I just don’t care a thing about shooting a bear.  I would love to spend the day with Ray. It would be fun to photograph Ray and his hounds.  I know I couldn’t keep up with him. 

Ray was fishing Greenbrier a couple of years ago in the early Spring.  All of a sudden the river rose due to a storm higher in the mountains that he couldn’t see or hear.  He was stuck on the wrong side of the river with no chance of wading back across.  What you have to do in a situation like that is walk through the dense forest for as many miles as it takes to get to a bridge.  He did that.  It was a bushwhack of several miles.  He is about my age.  I could not have done it.  When there is a chance for scattered thunderstorms I stay close to the road or trail side of the stream and watch for any changes in the water color or floating debris. 

I have been stuck on the wrong side of tailwaters but it never amounted to more than a couple of miles walking through farms.  It’s different here.  The forest is dense and you are often climbing big hills. 

Dwayne and I thought we were going to be trapped on the Conasaga River in Georgia one time.  Our camp was right on the river and a strong thunderstorm moved in.  At 2:00 am we packed up and crossed the stream then pitched the tent again.  It was due to my urging, not his.  The river didn’t go up that much but I was able to sleep, knowing we could get out the next day.  So far, I have never been trapped by high water and had to spend the night or be rescued.  I plan to keep that off my list of “bad things that have happened to me”. 

I know several people who have spent the night near Abrams Creek.  All of them were fishing the Big Horseshoe.  While fishing that stretch of river, and darkness is closing in, a lot of folks have tried to bushwhack out and get lost.  Rick was in here Monday.  He’s one of them.  Once it is dark you should bed down.  There are some dangerous cliffs in that area.  It would be easy to kill yourself trying to walk around in the dark looking for that trail. 

Tom and Bill got stuck in there one time.  They finally decided to bed down.  The next morning they saw a cliff just a few feet from where they stopped for the night.  They had not noticed it the night before.

I can’t tell you how many people have showed up at the shop in the morning and told us they spent the night in the woods, un-prepared and unexpectedly.  And, there are those who have spent more than one night in the woods here who were either injured or lost.  That has happened a few times this year.  I can think of two right now. 

Some people don’t realize that all of this contiguous land, the National Park and all the surrounding National Forests are a really serious wilderness areas.  You must be careful and have a plan.  

Unexpected snow storms have taken their toll on human life.  Not long after I moved here a group of about 40 backpackers were trapped in the Smokies.  It snowed four feet in about two days up high.  They were a group of college students from Michigan and this happened in March.  It took several days to get them out but everyone made it.  Here in the valley we had almost three feet of snow so power was out and news was hard to get.  I didn’t expect those people to get out.  It was amazing how that turned out.

I didn’t plan on writing about this today. I hardly ever have a plan.  I guess this just sort of evolved.  I better get back to work.


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

Byron Begley
September 29, 2009

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