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

Welcome to the Fishing Report from the Great Smoky Mountains.  It is overcast and 64 degrees in Townsend.  I was off yesterday.  Paula and I hoped to go fishing on the Little Tennessee River in the headwaters of Tellico Lake.  We wanted to try some new baitfish patterns.  Unfortunately, the Foothills Parkway is closed due to the government shut-down.  We could take the long way adding an hour drive each way.  We punted.  We stayed home and I tied more baitfish flies.

I looked up our website data like I do every morning before writing this report.  We had 1,154 unique visitors that clicked on and probably read the fishing report yesterday.  900 read it the day before.  These numbers, especially those from yesterday are high.  It is obvious that people are waiting to see what happens and what is going on here.

Driving through town was odd this morning.  There are not many visitors here.  I did see a few cars parked in the motel parking lots but nothing like we would expect in early October.

I think fishing is good in the Smokies though there are no reports from customers or friends.  Little River is flowing at 148 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.80 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 74 cfs.  The water temperature is 61.5 degrees.

On Monday, I talked to our tourism officials and was interviewed by our County’s Public Relations firm.  We are trying to do as much damage control as possible.  Our hope is, people will keep their reservations and visit here in October, probably our best business month of the year.

From a fishing perspective we are looking at all alternatives.  If visitors can’t fish in the National Park, where will they go?  To many people, this is an opportunity to try something new.  Our county and surrounding counties have so much fishable water outside the Park, it’s hard to choose where to go.

One possibility is the Cherokee National Forest (CNF).  You can be there in about 1 hour and 20 minutes, driving from Townsend.  From what I have read online, National Forests are open to visitors.  I hope I am steering you right.  I can’t find anything to the contrary.

Fishing in the Cherokee National Forest is similar to fishing here.  There are some wild trout streams in the NNF.  And there are some stocked streams.  Small rivers include Tellico.  It is a beautiful stream.  Most of that water is stocked but tributaries and the upper Tellico are not stocked.  You can find wild brook, rainbow and brown trout.  Bald River and North River are great options. 

The Hiwassee River is a large tailwater and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.  It is stocked with trout, mostly rainbows.

There is one thing you will notice  in the CNF that is very different from fishing in the Smokies.  People will be hunting there too.  There is a bear and boar hunt scheduled for this coming weekend.  I was invited to go with some friends.  I better stay here.

We have several tailwaters stocked with trout nearby.  One is the Clinch River below Norris Dam.  Another is the Holston below Cherokee Dam. You might consider hiring a guide to float these rivers, including the Hiwassee.  If you have not fished there before, a guide will make all the difference in the world.

We have lakes everywhere you look.  Bring your boat, canoe or kayak.  Our lakes have rainbow trout, walleye, stripers, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, carp and musky. 

There is great fishing in the lowland rivers for smallmouth bass and trout.  Little River is one.  It is located right here.

I don’t know how long this government shutdown will last.  If it ended today, Great Smoky Mountains National Park would open soon.  The trout would be less spooky after a few days without being hassled by anglers.  The water levels are good and the water temperatures are great.

I’ve seen many interviews with local guides on TV and in the newspapers this week.  Of course, they are nervous just like we are.  They have options for their clients other than fishing in the Smokies. 

I ran a sales report first thing this morning to see what the Park closure has done to us.  Our business for the first two days of October is down 53% from last year.  You can’t form an opinion based on two days.  September was up from last year.

Our store remodeling project is going extremely well.  I brought my painting clothes to work today.  I knew the slatwall in the new wader department would need a fresh coat.  Well, somebody did that yesterday.  It looked great.  No painting for me today.

If the government gets funded we will keep you posted here on efforts to get the Park open again.  I hope that happens soon. One of my friends who owns a motel in town said they had cancellations Monday.  People who were already staying there went home or somewhere else. Living in a National Park gateway town when the Parks are closed is not fun at all.  Nobody here is happy.    

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

Byron Begley
October 3, 2013

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