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

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is foggy and 31 degrees in Townsend this morning.  Our brief Spring weather we had last week is gone.  We find ourselves “back in the real world”.  That’s OK.  Normal is better.

Little River is getting low again.  Also, the median flow for this date took a huge jump.  Flow right now is 125 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 279 cfs.  The river looks great.  I stopped at the swinging bridge early this morning and took the water temperature.  The reading was 44 degrees.  Yesterday at the same time the temperature was 50 degrees.  And last week we saw that number climb into the mid 50’s during the middle of the day.  Fishing was very good in the Smokies last week.

I doubt if it is very good right now.  It is going to be cold at night until the weekend so I’m not expecting much in the way of catching a lot of trout here.  You do have a chance for a big trout, possibly a brown that has spawned and still hungry for the ordeal.  The same may be true of the brook trout.  They spawned too.  Fishing for stocked trout in town should be good.  But overall fishing, when the water drops to 40 degrees is slow.  The water temperature is not there yet but it is getting close.  The water will be warmer by the weekend.  But not a lot warmer.  It is probably going to rain again Saturday night and Sunday.  That is good! 

When the water is cold, nymphs normally work best.  Using extra weight and getting those flies down to the bottom is what most anglers do when conditions are what we have now.  Blue wing olives (BWO) can hatch at any time.  You should have some BWO dry flies ready. 

You could go to Cades Cove and fish Abrams Creek at the confluence of Mill Creek.  You could try fishing above the confluence in Abrams Creek.  The water will be warmer there.  A lot of underground water flows into that limestone creek.  Fishing above the confluence can be difficult for us.  Much of that water is slow and slick. 

There are some nice rainbows in Abrams Creek.  There are also some awesome hatches in the Spring and Summer.  Abrams Creek is one of the few rivers in the Smokies where there is a large Green Drake hatch.  Catching that hatch, which used to occur in April is tricky.  Actually, you have to be lucky.  I gave up on that a long time ago.  Steve Moore, the guy who is in charge of the Park’s fisheries department and I tried to time that hatch and be there to actually see thousands of those bugs on the water.  We never timed it right.  I thought, since he knows more about these streams than just about anyone, we would do it.  I was wrong. 

Sometimes we have had customers come in after fishing Abrams in the Spring.  They told me about seeing their vehicle almost covered with huge mayflies.  I would run up there the next day and find nothing but lots of dead bugs.  I did happen to be there at the right time once.  I was fishing with Gary McCown.  The Green Drakes were hatching and flying around.  Gary gave me a Green Drake wet fly.  He used one too.  We had a great day of fishing.

That was back in the day when brown trout were fairly common in Abrams Creek.  I was helping the Park Service fisheries crew do some population sampling there in the Fall one year in the very early 90’s.  We captured a few browns out of the nearly 500 trout we shocked.  One brown was 29” long. 

Fisheries managers know that the browns got there due to stocking by a local man and maybe a helper which is against the law.  Evidently, they transported brown trout around the Cove and dumped them in.  Those trout grew large.  Either they did not stock enough of them or the spawning conditions were not good for brown trout. So, the few browns that were there, finally died.  We have a mounted brown in our store that was caught in Abrams Creek by a local kid at the time.  He is grown now with children of his own.  He loaned us two mounted brown trout to decorate the store years ago.  The one he caught in Abrams Creek is about 25” to 27” long.  I’m not sure because I have never measured it.

Brown trout do well in other streams in the Smokies.  Little River is one of them.  They grow to 30” long.  They are there and they are hard to catch.

We have been in this business for about 18 years.  I’ve heard some unbelievable stories.  Now, thanks to digital imaging, we see the pictures every day, shot of fish that were caught earlier that day or days before.  Thanks to this technology, I get to live an angler’s day through the photos.  Before getting into the retail business I never understood what people were talking about when they said, “you have to work long hours in that business”.  Now, I know why.  I finally figured it out.  You can’t afford to hire a bunch of people so you can go fishing often.  It’s a good thing I love my job.  And, fishing to me is a very special day.  They should be special days.  At least I can easily and quickly go fishing after work.   

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

Byron Begley
December 12, 2012 


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