Townsend, Tennessee
November 17, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is partly cloudy today and the air is clear.  There was absolutely no fog in the valley.  I can see even the larger mountains clearly which is rare at this time of the day.  Townsend is very quiet. 

Little River is looking exceptional.  The water is higher than normal but it is clear.  Fishing is very good.  I talked to a guy in the parking lot late yesterday.  He was taking his waders off.  I told me he saw brown trout everywhere.  He said the fishing was good.  The browns are probably a little mixed up.  More than likely the high water we had a week ago wreaked havoc on the redds.  They were spawning and some of the fish had most likely finished.  It will be interesting to see if the spawn continues or re-starts.

But, the trout are active.  I would use nymphs in the heavier, faster water.  Watch the tails of the pools.  Approach carefully.  Blend in. You might need plenty of weight.  I would use a Prince Nymph, Girdle Bug, Wooly Bugger or Bead Head Pheasant Tail.  We will most likely get some rain this afternoon and tomorrow.  The rain should be light with little accumulation.  The temperatures, day and night will be warm so fishing should continue to be good in the Smokies. 

One of our industry reps told me recently that since he has been in the business of selling to fly shops the number of stores has dropped by 50% in his region.  He has been a rep for ten years.  His region is the Southeast United States but does not include Florida.

In the fifteen years we have been in this business we have had three years when our business was down.  One was a long time ago.  It happened again in 2006 when several competitors including two big box stores opened in our market and we are down this year.  We cut our costs this year more than enough to make up for the loss in revenue so financially we are doing well.  But it disturbs me to have a down year.

I do know that our business is not down as much as most fly shops.  I hear the numbers from our industry players all the time.  By most standards we are doing exceptionally well.  But, it still bothers me.

So, my plan is to make some changes.  First I’m going to look at my time spent on the job.  I spend 45 hours per month writing this fishing report.  I spend 40 hours per month writing and designing the Little River Journal.  I spend a lot of time on the online catalog.  I can see measurable results from that effort.  That won’t change.  All total I work at least 60 hours per week.

Some fly shop owners are blaming their downturn on the economy.  I’m not sure that is the problem, maybe it’s part of it but there are more underlying reasons, that 50% of the stores in our region have closed over the past ten years and they were not replaced by new stores.  I believe the change has more to do with changes in American’s habits than the economy.  I think large stores and people buying used tackle on the internet have been the demise of the fly shops.  I believe fly fishing as a sport is becoming less popular.  In fact, I know it is.

I’ve owned some sort of business for 36 years.  I have always owned a small business.  I have seen several recessions.  But I don’t remember having a business that was down from the year before.  I would say there were some years that were flat, but I don’t remember any that were down.

I think our business model needs an overhaul.  Over the years we reduced our offering to fly fishing tackle only.  If a person doesn’t fly fish or does not intend to fly fish we have nothing for them.  We got out of the clothing business.  Is it time to get back in?  Our building is large, we own it, we have lots of options.

So, I’m looking for opportunities and ways to improve my personal productivity.  This is nothing new, I’ve done it many times before. I enjoy the process.

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

Byron Begley
November 17, 2009

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