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 50 degrees in Townsend this morning.  The fog will yield to sunshine soon and the high today should be about 74 degrees.  Everyone agrees, the mountains look beautiful.  Fall colors are changing the landscape in the valley and lower elevations.  The trees are at peak higher up.  This has been a very nice Fall so far.

Little River and other Smoky Mountain streams are getting low again.  Little River is currently flowing at 75 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 69 cfs.  So, when I say the streams are getting low, today they are still running about normal for this time of year. 

Rain is expected tomorrow night and Monday.  Timing for that is perfect.  Visitors and anglers will enjoy a nice dry weekend.  After they leave, it should start raining.  In the tourism business, that is considered perfect timing.  The Fall Festival in Maryville is also benefiting from good weather.  Those festival planners must have done everything right.  Rain can ruin a festival.  Not this one.  The City of Maryville seems to always do things well.  They have strong leadership and in this case, good luck.

Fishing is good.  Even beginners are catching nice trout in the Smokies.  And some big trout have been caught too.  Daniel told me Ethan posted a monster on Facebook.  He said the fish was “well over 20 inches”.  There is a reason for that other than the fact that Ethan is a very good angler.  The brown trout are in the spawning mode so you can see them during the day.  And, if you are skilled enough and stealthy enough you can catch a Smokies Trout of a Lifetime.  The brook trout and rainbows are active too.

Dry flies are taking the smaller trout up to 16”.  I saw two photographs yesterday of 16” trout caught in the Smokies during the last couple of days.  One was a rainbow caught in Abrams Creek.  That is a huge rainbow in the Smokies.  The brown was caught in Little River.  That is also a nice brown. 

I would use a Neversink Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis or small Stimulator.  The water is clear.  Use light tippet for your normal fishing.  If you are after a large brown you need to use heavy tippet to land it quickly.  You might have problems getting a strike with heavier tippet, but at this time of year it is important not to injure a spawning trout.  A nymph catches most of the bigger trout. 

Most people I know won’t fish for a brown that is nesting.  Good nymph choices would be a Tellico, Prince or Pheasant Tail.  Rubber legged nymphs work well too.  You will need to weight them with a piece or two of split shot attached to your tippet above the fly.  Sometimes, when the water is clear like it is now, flashy bead head flies don’t work as well.  Try something more subdued without all the flash.

Green Weenies and Pink Green Weenies are working very well. 

Smallmouth bass fishing in Little River is very good even with the lower water.  I heard that from two anglers yesterday.  I talked to one guy who had been camping at lower Abrams Creek.  He did well fishing for trout above the falls and caught tons of redeye bass lower downstream.  But, he didn’t see or catch any smallmouth bass.  That seemed odd to me.  Lower Abrams is a great smallmouth stream.  They were in there somewhere.

Eight beginner students will be taking our class this morning.  They will be here in a little while.  They picked a good weekend too.

We’ve got new gear coming in.  A fishpond order arrived yesterday.  The new designs won’t ship for another two weeks though.  You are going to like what you see.  We also got a large Orvis order in.  There are some new products in that shipment.

We have 200 t-shirts in production in Nashville.  Unfortunately, that is a new design and we had design problems.  I thought that would be worked out by now.  Additionally, there are another 149 Brook Trout Restoration T’s on their way from California to Nashville.  I’m hoping they are printed next week.  This design problem messed up our t-shirt department for now.  We have some sizes in the shop.  When those 350 t-shirts get here we’ll have plenty.  We are also working on another new “brown trout” design.  It will be printed in January or February.

I’m feeling pretty good about the Laurel Lake project.  Our initial concept planning is still in progress and will be for another year. Our County Mayor asked me to continue with structural and environmental design, permitting and grant writing.  I’ve got to tell you that at this point, my skill contribution is limited.  I can get people together, talk to large groups, organize thoughts and graphics. When it comes to hydrology, geology, structural and civil engineering, geotechnical testing and water quality, I’m over my head.

So, I started searching for experts to help.  That has gone very well and it came together successfully this week.  First, I called a guy who has a masters degree in geology.  We met this week.  He is going to help.  Bruce, who serves with us on the concept committee is a project manger on huge government projects.  He is leading me with sound advice. 

I talked to the President of the Little River Watershed Association this week.  She is a environmental expert at the University of Tennessee.  I really liked what I heard from her.  I talked to our County Planner, John Lamb.  He is going to be involved as a director on the Watershed Association.  The Little River Watershed Association is a major stakeholder in this project.  Protecting the water quality of our river is their mission.  So, they will be looking out for the river.  Our goal is to improve the water quality.  The streams flowing into the old lake bed are listed with the EPA as impaired.  The impairment is silt.

Former Maryville Mayor and my good friend Joe Swann put me in touch with the Maryville Budget Director.  She handled the U.S. Corps of Engineers grant and provided City oversight of the newly refurbished and dredged Greenbelt Lake which should be completely filled this weekend.  She provided some great information and agreed to help.  I saw Joe at a party Thursday night.  He said she discussed our conversation with him.

I called a friend of mine who has his doctorate in engineering and was on staff at UT for years. Currently he owns a engineering consulting firm.  He put me in touch with Dr. John Schwartz at UT.  I looked John up online.  He has his doctorate in civil engineering and a masters degree in fisheries biology.  What a combination.  And to top that off, he has worked with Steve Moore and Matt Kulp in the Smokies on a few projects.  His expertise is wide and varied but I found a lot of work that he has done on stream restoration.

John is a great guy.  We had a good conversation.  He is going to watch over me and give us guidance on this project.  I’m not going to make a move without talking to him.  He said he would help in any way he could.

The nice guy I’ve been working with at Tennessee Department of Environment Conservation told me last week he is leaving the agency this month to pursue a career in the private sector.  I hated to hear that news.  Dan was a good guy to work with.  Our case has been assigned to another person who I have not yet met. 

So, things are looking up for Laurel Lake.  I guess we’ll keep plugging along.

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

Byron Begley
October 13, 2012

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