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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is very foggy and 43 degrees in Townsend this morning.  I can’t see one mountain from my office.  I did see seven wild turkeys on our private road.  They walked ahead of me the veered off into the field where our barn is located.  Two of the turkeys flew to the top of a tree near our house.  They are usually not that nervous, barely getting out of the way when I drive by.  Maybe the fog had them spooked. 

Little River looked pretty good despite being lower than normal.  Flow right now is 72 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 193 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:05 am was 48 degrees, the same as yesterday morning.

We may see a little sun on Saturday but every other day until Tuesday will be overcast.  We have a slight chance for rain today and tomorrow.  The chance is greater Sunday night through Monday night. 

Trout in the Smokies are active.  The water temperature is much warmer than usual in December.  Bill saw two brown trout still spawning higher up on Wednesday.  He tried to catch a third brown that was trying to take over spawning duties from another male.  The two males were chasing each other, sparring for domination.  The water is low and the trout are easily spooked.  Bill was not able to catch that trout.  He did catch a 26” brown a few weeks ago in Little River.

Nymphs or Blue Wing Olive dry flies are what I would use.  The trout will be hiding.  The overcast skies will help you get closer to the fish.  It is going to be warm for a few more days.  You will need to use low water tactics, fishing the riffles and runs.  You will need to stay well hidden.  I would certainly go fishing this weekend.  After Monday, it is going to cool off. 

The tailwaters are fishing well if you can get a reasonable generation schedule.  The water temperatures are warm enough for some activity from smallmouth bass. 

Fishing isn’t great, but it isn’t bad.

Whiting Farms is getting caught up from the “Hair Extension Craze”.  We got two shipments in the past week from them, which included some grizzly 100 packs.  We received some other colors as well.  I’m glad to see this.  We have been able to buy grizzly necks for a while but they sell fast when we get them in.  Supplies are still limited, just not like they were.

I tried to start on the Knucklehead fly tying instructional yesterday but got sidetracked.  Maybe I can get going on that today.  If I can get the photography done, I could write the text at home in the evenings.  Maybe it will get done this weekend.  I hope so.  I want you all to start tying these great bass flies. 

It is hard to believe this.  The Spring fly fishing activity will begin in 2 ½ months, maybe sooner than that.  This year was one of if not the warmest year on record.  Fishing in the Smokies started getting good in February this year.  That used to happen in late February or March.  This year, it happened in early February.  Our first shipments of Spring flies arrive in February.  We order large quantities of Quill Gordons and Blue Quills, our first major hatches of the year. 

I remember when the trout season in the Smoky Mountains opened in April.  Fishing for trout was not allowed during the Winter, for some strange reason. There was even a time when the statewide season began in April.  Due to that, most fly fishermen did not know about Quill Gordon or Blue Quill mayflies in the South.  The fishermen were not on the streams when they hatched.  Fishing for trout is allowed year-round in Tennessee now. 

Abrams Creek was the last stream in the Smokies to be opened year round.  Steve Moore made that decision when he took over the Fisheries Department at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I think that was in the early 80’s.  He told me one time, when he took the job, Abrams Creek was one of his early decisions.  Steve has never believed that anglers had a major affect on trout mortality in the Smokies.  Droughts and floods do have a large affect on the populations. 

Now that the brown and brook trout have spawned, we don’t want any large high water events for a while.  The eggs need time to hatch and the fry need time to grow.  Last year, a early flood in the Smokies wiped out some brown trout and probably brook trout redds.  I haven’t heard any complaints about the population from anglers.  There are more trout I these streams than you can imagine.  If you want to find out for yourself, volunteer to do some stream sampling with the fisheries biologists.  I have done that many times.  Using electroshocking, biologists capture most of the fish by temporarily stunning them.  We captured over 500 trout in 200 meters of Abrams Creek a few years ago.  That was a humbling experience for me.  You can look at a pool or run in Little River and think, there may be 20 trout in there.  Go through the area with portable electroshocking equipment and people with nets and you will be amazed at how many trout actually exist in that area.  I always underestimate.

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

Byron Begley
December 7, 2012  

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