Townsend, Tennessee
November 1, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is cool and wet.  The ground is soaked, the rivers and streams are gushing huge amounts of water and traffic in town is light.  I’m working at home on the Journal but drove to Townsend to check the rain gauge at the shop and get the water temperature.  Campers were pulling out of town very early.  The rain is over for a few days. 

Little River is rolling.  Through town the water is the color of tea and 54 degrees.  We got 1.2” of rain yesterday and last night at the shop.  Amounts were higher than that in the Park.  Newfound Gap reported 1.7”, Sugarlands 1.4” and Mount Leconte received 1.4”. 

The water level in Little River peaked early this morning.  Right now the gauge is reading 3.68 feet or 1,130 cubic feet per second.  That is a record for this date.  The highest flow before today occurred in 1968 when it reached 512 cfs.  Last year on this date the flow was 23 cfs.  Normal is 81 cfs.  Leaves were churning in the pounding water. 

I wouldn’t go fishing in the Park today.  You might find some streams to fish.  I will call this one dangerous, unless you plan on standing on the bank, roll casting.  That might work but don’t fall in.  It could be a disaster.  Maybe you can find some tailwaters that are suitable to fish today.

People are excited about the new trout regulations on the Caney Fork that will take affect March 1, 2010.  The new regulations are designed to create a trophy fishery while giving those who fish for the dinner table a meal of trout, just not as big a meal.

Rainbow and Brook Trout are protected by a slot limit of 14” to 20”.  You can’t keep any trout in that range.  An angler may keep one rainbow or brook over 20”.

Anglers will not be allowed to harvest any brown trout 24” or shorter.  They can keep one brown over 24”.

The creel limit was reduced from 7 fish per day per angler to 5. TWRA is serious about trophy trout fishing.  They think they know what that will do for license sales and overall angler satisfaction.  They are probably right.

Will that lead to overcrowding?  Some people on the Message Board, (me and Grumpy) were talking about that last night.  I don’t notice crowds when I go fishing.  But, I never go fishing on weekends.  I work every Saturday and Sunday unless I’m out of town.

Do forums increase the number of anglers on a specific trout river?  I don’t know for sure, I don’t think any of us do.  Sure, a person might be talking about how great the fishing has been on the Clinch, but at the same time someone else on the board is talking about the South Holston.  At the same time people are talking about the Park, the White River, Little Red, Cumberland and so on.  I bet there are trout fishing forums based in every state that has trout fishing.

Going back to what Grumpy and I were talking about, does the quality of the fishery draw more anglers to it?  Of course it does.  We have a spring creek that runs through our property.  It has always had a population of small wild rainbow trout.  I never saw anyone fishing on that creek and I bought this place in the 80’s.  Then I got the idea to start feeding the trout.  My buddy Frank and I placed two automatic feeders hanging over the water.  They were controlled by timers that dropped pellets in the water twice a day.  The water stays almost the same temperature year round.  It is perfect for trout.  The fish grew, some reached 22” and more.  I even did some stocking or rainbows and brook trout with permission from TWRA and the Park.

You can imagine what happened.  All of a sudden there were fishermen catching trout day and night.  Some even camped down there all weekend.  The word got out about this new trophy trout stream.  It drove me crazy.  I quit feeding and the large trout and anglers went away.

People are drawn to greener pastures.  So are wild turkeys, bears, deer, squirrels, heck it’s a fact of life. I throw a little corn out on the gravel road that goes to our barn during the winter months every day.  What do I see?  Squirrels and wild turkey. 

I hope TWRA adopts a trophy trout management plan on all the tailwaters in our state exactly like the new plan for the Caney Fork.  I bet they do.  That will spread the anglers out some.  The Caney Fork is a popular river.  One reason is, it is located in an area that does not have a lot of options for really great trout fishing and it is near a large city. 

Over here there are many tailwaters and wild trout streams.  There is less population of humans per mile of trout water in East Tennessee.  The Park has 800 miles of fishable trout streams, for instance.  Throw in the Cherokee National Forest which is very close to here and you have many more miles of trout streams.  Then there is the Clinch, Hiwassee, Holston, South Holston and Watauga.  There are others, too many to mention here. 

The Caney Fork is crowded now and it will probably become more so.  But, the fishing is going to be excellent in the future, much better than it is now and that is saying a lot.  I think most anglers who enjoy fishing the Caney Fork will be happy with these new regulations, except maybe the people who like to take home 7 fish per day.

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

Byron Begley
November 1, 2009  

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