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 52 degrees in Townsend this morning.

I love my work.  I spend a lot of time here.  I don’t know what I would do if I could not work here.  But, when I stepped outside this morning at home and felt that warm air I wanted to go fishing instead.  The sky is dark.  It is a cloudy day.  We are expecting rain.  If I didn’t have to do payroll and pay the bills, I would be fishing today.  It is perfect out there.  Today, I love my work less than normal.

Little River is flowing at 81 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 1.55 feet on the gauge.  Median flow for this date is 151 cfs.  The water temperature has been rising all night and continues to do so.  Right now, the temperature is 47.6 degrees.  Man, I want to be out there.

Fishing for fall brown trout has been excellent.  I have photos my friends have sent me.  There have been several 24” to 27” fish caught in Little River this past week.  The water has been on the cold side.  That doesn’t matter when you are fishing for these big fish.  They are active and hungry.

However, the lower than normal water levels have made fishing for all trout tough right now.  Anglers are spooking the fish.  Yesterday, fishermen were reporting seeing a lot of trout including rainbows.  They had a hard time fooling them.  They often saw the fish darting for cover.  It was a sunny beautiful day.  Sunny days make for tough fishing, especially when the water is low.  Today is not supposed to be sunny.

We have a 90% chance for rain today and an 80% chance tonight.  Hopefully we’ll get enough rain to raise the water levels some but not too much.  Heavy rain and high water can wash out the redds where the browns and brook trout spawned and in some cases we can lose an age class of fish.  That happened on Lynn Camp Prong last year. 

Biologists found only a small number of young of the year brookies when they sampled that stream this summer.  High water is one of Mother Nature’s ways of controlling the populations.  If we did not have droughts or floods, we would have a lot of stunted fish but plenty of them in the streams.  The populations would exceed the carrying capacity of the food supply.  The brown trout would have plenty of rainbows to munch on which would be good.  But overall, anglers would be complaining about small trout.

Some of the best fishing we have had from an angler’s perspective occurs after droughts.  When we have less fish and the same amount of food, the trout grow.  Anglers perceive the fishing to be good.  If we lose an age class due to flooding, the same result applies. 

First thing yesterday morning, we sold out of the materials and spines to tie Game Changer flies.  One of our customers from Mississippi bought the last batch.  I ordered more yesterday so we’ll be first in line tomorrow morning at Harline Dubbin.  I asked that they make sure to have the order to us by Friday.  I ordered double the normal amount.  The last order lasted about a week.  I have never seen anything like this in 19 years.

I talked to Pat who owns Cascade Crescent Tools last week.  He has a machine that makes CCT Body Fur, the original material used to tie these flies by Blane Chocklett, the originator.  Pat said he is running that machine constantly, trying to keep up with demand. I’m going to get us in line for a special run, something a little different.  We have to order 200 yards for a custom run and there is no telling when we will get to it.

When I look at everything offered to fly fishermen that is new for 2014, this fly is of most importance in my opinion.  It is seldom that a fly can make such a large impact on our little industry.  Usually it is a $750 rod, a $300 pair of waders, not a $10 fly.

My hat is off to the staff at Little River Outfitters.  Everyone has worked hard to make our remodel actually happen.  We have not undertaken a project like this since we built this building 10 years ago. 

The fly tying department is on the second level mezzanine and it is going to be awesome.  I am so excited.  Everyone here is pumped about this.

We also had a lot of work done on our digital communications system.  I got a $1,700 bill yesterday from our IT people.  We have the fastest internet connection I have ever used.  That is important to us since much of our work is done online.  It is going to be a time saver. 

We are installing new lighting.  The store will be brighter than it has ever been.  The lighting is more energy efficient and has a high color rendering index rating.  The light fixtures look essentially the same.  It’s the bulbs and ballasts that make the difference.  We are doing it in steps and on steps.  It takes Bill and I about an hour to rebuild a fixture.  We rebuilt three of them Friday afternoon.  After standing on a ladder for three hours holding my hands above my head and splicing wire, I could hardly get out of bed the next day. 

There is still plenty to do.  Just making the signs to describe the items on display will take days.  But, we are making progress each day. 

Take my advice and go fishing today.  Step into the woods, feel the air and see the dark surroundings that we anglers love and you will agree.  This is a fishing day.  Uh Oh, the sun is shining here.  I can see clouds hovering over the Smokies though. I hope the weather forecasters are right about the cloud cover and rain.

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

Byron Begley
November 17, 2013 

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