Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is partly cloudy and 35 degrees in Townsend this morning.  One weather website says the temperature is 40 degrees.  Another reports 43 degrees.  It is 35, believe me.  Frost is covering the ground and rooftops where I am. 

There is an unusual amount of activity in our town this morning.  I guess a lot of people don’t have to work today.  We also have plenty of visitors in town for the holiday.  I was scheduled to be off today but I decided I better be here.  There were no people camping outside our store for the black Friday experience like they do at Best Buy.  Josh is out there waiting for some clients to arrive though.

Little River’s water volume continues to decrease.  Flow this morning at 8:00 am was 98 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 171 cfs.  The water temperature is 44.5 degrees this morning.  Though the weather websites are often wrong about our low temperature, they are usually right about the highs.  We should see the temperature rise today to the low 60’s if they are right.  Then, it is going to get cold.  Nightime lows will be in the 20’s this weekend.  High temperatures will be in the low 40’s tomorrow.

If I were not working here and going fishing in the Park, I would use nymphs.  A Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph or Tellico would be a logical choice.  Due to the low and clear water, I would probably not use a nymph with a shiny bead.  That extra flash might be a little “much” for these conditions.  Use split shot to get the nymphs down or slip a black tungsten bead on your tippet.  I would also have some big, ugly nymphs.  You might see some post spawn brown trout, big and hungry.  You might catch the trout of a lifetime. 

Later today the water will be warmer.  If I had a choice, I would fish in the Park later today.

It’s official.  They are here.  The Park confirmed that the emerald ash borer has been found in the Smokies.  These exotic pests kill ash trees.  And, as you would expect, they came here from Asia.  Now we have yet another Asian export to deal with.  If you CLICK HERE you can read the story on the Daily Times website. 

There has been a ban on bringing firewood into Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a while.  Biologists feared an introduction of these beetles in the wood brought in from other areas by campers.  I don’t think the Park Service actually stopped campers from bringing in their own wood but they tried.  I’ve heard complaints from people who did not understand the rule.  Anyway, these bugs found a new home in our Park.

We had a great Thanksgiving.  Paula prepared a huge meal and it was excellent.  For once, I didn’t eat too much.  Some of our best friends, Pat and Jim joined us.  We have a great time with them.  We’ll see them again on Christmas Eve.

Jim and I talk about fishing, hunting and guns, our favorite topic.  One interesting point that he brought up first, and I had been thinking about myself, is trolling for walleye.  I was just talking about that to someone last week.  Jim is an avid fly fisher.  He and Pat have a flats boat.  Jim loves fly fishing for bonefish, tarpon and permit. 

Maybe it is our age or maybe we are longing to re-live part of our past.  Maybe we are searching for something different.  Trolling is certainly different.  But, it is a heck of a lot of fun. When I was a kid in the late 50’s, I had my best day ever catching large trout.  My dad and I fished with a guide on Lake Cumberland.  We were trolling along the riprap at Wolf Creek Dam.  We caught trout after trout in the 20” to 26” range on that day.  They were all rainbows.   

Jim and I talked about boats that would be good for fishing the waters we have here, those that have populations of big walleye pike.  We have plenty of lakes to choose from.  Most of our lakes nearby have walleye populations.  Some local anglers I know catcH huge walleye. 

I got my first fly rod 50 years ago at age 11.  I feel sure I haven’t used anything but a fly rod over the past 30 years. So, I’m pretty much a fly fisherman.  That doesn’t mean I look down on people who fish differently, I don’t.  And, that doesn’t mean I would not try a different method if the opportunity came up.  I would.

Over the past three years I have been fly fishing for smallmouth bass with a fly rod, mostly on lakes.  Maybe it is a phase.  I have seen those bass disappear temporarily during the middle of the day when the sun is high, making it tough to reach them with a fly rod. 

So, what if I fly fished in the mornings, then switched to trolling at mid day?  Somehow that sounds relaxing.  I see guys trolling on the lakes all the time.  They are sitting in a comfortable chair with their feet propped up.  Maybe they are drinking a beer.  They always seem to be talking to their buddy in the boat. I often hear laughter.  Their outboard is pushing their boat along but so slowly that they barely pay attention to navigation. 

I get tired, blind casting a 7 weight fly rod all day.  I can’t do it anymore. I require down time.  I can putt around a lake in a boat all day long.  Ask Paula, we putt around lakes all the time.  To me it is soothing and relaxing.  It’s kind of like canoeing.  I like canoeing too.  In a boat, you can stand up and stretch.  There is plenty of room.

In the future, you may see me fly fishing for four hours early.  Then I’ll switch gears and get out a trolling rod to cruise around the lakes, totally mindless.  My feet may be propped up on the gunnel.  And then, all of a sudden, a huge fish tries to pull that rod out of my hands.  That doesn’t sound like a bad day to me at all.

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

Byron Begley
November 23, 2012

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