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 pitch black outside at 7:00 am and 50 degrees in Townsend, Tennessee.  I’m at home again this morning, taking two days off this week.

We could use some rain.  I don’t remember a longer dry spell all year.  The streams in the Smokies are getting lower though they are actually at normal flows for this time of year.

Little River is flowing at 77 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.51 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 77 cfs.  The water temperature this morning is 55 degrees.

I didn’t talk to anyone who fished in the mountains yesterday but I’m sure fishing was good for some and not so good for others.  Those anglers who know how to fly fish when the streams are low will catch trout.  Those who are not experienced in low water fishing probably struggled.  The trout are eager but they are trying to hide.  The angler needs to stay hidden as well.  Trout are taking both dry flies and nymphs. 

Get ready for some cooler weather.  Expect highs in the 50’s and lows in the low 30’s to high 20’s for the next few days.  There is a slight chance for rain through Thursday night.

Tennessee Valley Authority is lowering the impoundments for the winter.  I appears they will be generating at Norris Dam all day.  They say they will be generating with one unit at Cherokee Dam today.  Check the website yourself before you go.

It has been really beautiful here.  The leaves are turning but on some mountain slopes, the colors have not peaked.  Paula and I drove over the Foothills Parkway yesterday.  There were some crowds at the pull-offs looking at the views, but there is still some leaf turning to be had here.  Fall leaf season is not over.

I was anxious to try these new Game Changer flies I’ve been tying.  The Game Changer is an articulated minnow pattern, about 5” long, tied on 4 metal spines and attached to the hook.  If you want to see one in action, go to YouTube and search “Game Changer Fly”.  You will be amazed at the action.  The fly looks like a dying fish.  I tied some to look like shad for smallmouth bass and stripers.  For brown trout I tied others to resemble a small rainbow trout. Those will work for stripers too.

The commercial version of this fly will be available in January.  We ordered a bunch of them to sell next year.    

We launched the boat at 1:00 pm for a few hours of cruising and fishing.  We had some negative forces working against us.  It was supposed to be mostly cloudy.  It was mostly sunny.  I was hoping for clouds. 

Then, the motor would not run.  I started it at home before we left and it ran fine.  After a while, I removed the motor’s cowl and found that the linkage to the choke was not attached.  I guess it vibrated loose.  The retainer that holds the linkage to the carburetor was not engaged.  The carb was rebuilt this spring and maybe the mechanic forgot to click the retainer in place.  I fixed that and we were on our way.  We drove several miles upstream.

It was windy. I was trying to cast a large Game Changer with a 9 weight rod.  I was struggling.  I shortened the leader and that helped.  After a short time of flailing in the wind, we just cruised back down the river looking at the pretty scenery.  It was a nice day.

At about 2:30, clouds moved in and the wind died down.  I drove the boat over to a bank that is usually never a good place to fish during the fall, dropped the trolling motor and started casting.  At least, we were out of the wind. 

We watched the fly swimming and falling in the clear water.  We marveled at how realistic it looked.  I have never seen a fly that looks that real, depicting a dying fish.

I was retrieving the fly and jerking it about a foot under the surface.  Suddenly, a shadow appeared near the fly.  The shadow was a smallmouth bass.  It attacked the fly.  I set the hook and the fight was on.  He didn’t have much of a chance.  I was using 12 pound fluorocarbon tippet and a 9 weight rod.  The photo is below.  Catching this fish would have been a lot more fun on a 5 or 6 weight rod.  I’ll use a 9 weight, hoping for a monster.

I’ve seen and photographed the production models of this new fly.  I’m not sure how their weight compares to the flies I tied.  These flies take me about 2 hours to tie.  I use a #1 Gamakatsu hook.  The heavy hook and the metal spines make for a heavy fly.

I had one tied on an 8 weight rod in the boat with a sink tip line.  I didn’t try that.  The 9 weight worked great.  I don’t think a 6 weight rod will do the job.  A 7 weight may be fine for short distances.  We’ll have to see when the production flies get here. 

We have been selling the materials for this fly for about 2 months.  We have re-ordered twice since the first order came in.  Somebody is buying the materials and tying these flies.  Somebody is seeing what we saw yesterday.  I am really looking forward to trying them in the Smokies when the brown trout spawn is over.

Paula and I both agreed, in the Spring when the smallmouth bass fishing is really hot, this fly will be awesome.  I’ve got all winter to prepare. 

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

Byron Begley
October 23, 2013

Byron Begley holding a smallmouth bass caught on a Game Changer.

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