Townsend, Tennessee
November 30, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.

The rain began sometime during the night.  So far we got ½ inch.  I’m glad of that because the rivers were getting low.  The cloud cover is thick and dark.  We will still get more rain.  The air is very clear.  The mountains are in vivid contrast this morning.  When the air is clear, the mountains look larger.  And they do today.  The river was clear when I stopped to take the temperature this morning and it is up a little since yesterday morning.  Traffic in town is light.

Right now would be a great time to fish in the Park.  The water temperature is up from yesterday and there may be a tinge of color in the water later on.   The fishing has been fair and this weekend was beautiful.  Actually the whole holiday was enjoyed by visitors, one of the reasons is, because the weather was perfect.  This will be a memorable Thanksgiving for a lot of people.

Fishing may slow down later this week.  We are going to get some more rain and colder temperatures over the next few days.  We will probably see some snow in the mountains.  It is starting to look and feel like winter.  We'll have three more months of that then the Quill Gordons will start hatching and everyone will be fishing again.

Right now I would fish with nymphs, dry midges or blue wing olives.  If it were me I would be dragging nymphs on the bottom without a strike indicator.  There were some nice browns caught or hooked this weekend.  That may continue.

We didn't hear of any good fishing yesterday.  I did talk to one customer who saw stocked trout rising in town but couldn't get them to eat his fly.  Not many people were fishing.  It was a beautiful day.  I would have gone if I could have.  There were just three of us working at the shop.  That is usually our minimum number of people working.

Yesterday was slow at the shop.  But, we are up 18% over last year for the first four weeks compared to those weeks last year and we're happy about that.  I could have worked on the online catalog but decided to clean instead.  I washed all the windows in the building, inside and out.  I also did a "Super Clean" on one of the bathrooms.  Keeping the store clean is a big job.  Our building has 7,000 square feet of floor space and I don't know how many windows.  We have a crew that keeps the landscaping and grass in good shape.  The rest of us keep the building up.  It's an important part of running a good business.

Essential to our success is keeping the right amount of goods stocked.  We can't have too much or too little.  Some items are seasonal.  For instance, waders sell best in the Spring.  Wading boots sell well until late Summer.  Tying materials move faster during the late Fall and Winter.  Rods, reels and fly lines go out the door faster in the Spring.  Lower priced rods sell better in the Summer.  Flies sell well about 10 months out of the year.  Most of the Spring merchandise has already been ordered with pre-determined ship dates that run through early Summer.

Filling in our inventory is done weekly in all but the slowest months.  We have a weekly buying budget called "Open to Buy".  That number is based on projected sales.  If you go over that number your cash goes away.  When your cash goes away the store goes broke.  So, we pay a lot of attention to "Open to Buy". If business is better than projected, we can always order more gear.

Cades Cove is going to be closed next year temporarily.  The Park Service is having all the pavement on the loop road removed, ground up and laid back down.  Then a cover coat will be applied over that.  The drainage problems causing water to run over the roads will be solved.  New concrete culverts will be built.  Initial estimates were around $9 million.  I don't know what the actual bids turned out to be.  Construction should begin around March 1st.  If the weather is decent it will take 3 months.

This will impact tourism.  Cades Cove and Little River are our main attractions.  During that time there will be more pressure on the Elkmont area.  And, some people may choose to wait until the construction is over.  I think the Cades Cove Campground will be open.  I attended a public meeting but don't remember any discussion about closing it.

Our County and our Town are very dependent on the tourism business. I believe tourism accounts for 90% of the jobs in Townsend.  So, our small fragile economy can be devastated by a bad year in the tourism business.  The tourism business is dependent on weather, fuel prices and the economy.  Weather has a huge impact on camping.  People hate to camp in the rain.  I'm the same way.

If you stay in a campground, cabin, motel or lodge you are paying a hotel/motel tax over and above the State and local taxes.  Our hotel/motel tax is currently 5%.  Of that 5%, 20% goes to pay off the $1.4 million tract of land we purchased recently next to the visitors center.  That 1% will amount to about $400,000 per year.  The remaning 4% brings in about $1.6 million.  A big chunk of that is used for advertising both to leisure travelers staying in the Townsend/Walland area or the business travelers who spend the night near the airport.  The Knoxville Airport is actually in our County, not Knox County.

Part of the Hotel/Motel tax is used to provide two visitor centers, one in Townsend and one in Maryville.  The Townsend Visitors Center in Townsend gets around 250,000 people per year coming in and asking questions.  There is also staff answering the telephones.  When you call the visitor's center during opening hours, someone will answer the phone.  We think that is very important. I've seen staffers talk to potential visitors for 1/2 hour about what they can expect to see while visiting our area.

All of this is managed by the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau and funded by the hotel/motel tax.  We are all hoping for a better year in the tourism biz in 2010.  Some things are out of our control.  We seem to get by anyway and live in a great place.

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

Byron Begley
November 30, 2009

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