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.  Tis the day after Christmas and it is cold, 23 degrees this morning.  We have the thickest frost we’ve had all year.  Winter has arrived in Townsend, Tennessee.

Little River is still flowing strong at 604 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 299 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:10 am is 41 degrees.  This cold front will remain until tomorrow.  Then, it will be warmer both day and night.  We’ll probably get some rain this weekend.

Be careful wading.  The streams are full of water.  The water is cold.  Stay near your truck if you go fishing and don’t take any chances.  A dip in one of these rivers and a long hike out could have dire consequences.  Keep a change of dry clothes in your truck.

If you do go fishing, use nymphs and get them down deep.  The trout will be somewhat inactive or very inactive.  They won’t move far for a meal. 

You should see some visitors in the Smokies.  Many American workers have the week off.  We have had a busy holiday season so far and it is not over.  We will see more visitors next week for the New Year holiday.

After next week, business in town slows to a crawl.  Cash gets tight.  Some businesses will make it through the long winter season and unfortunately, some will not.  I heard of one business that is closing after 18 years.  Townsend is a tough place to make a living.  I know, I’ve been trying for 19 years. 

We have a good mail order business that we slowly built over a period of 17 years.  Without that, I think I would have given up years ago.  You see, in some parts of the country, fishing is pretty good, even during the winter.  And, about 1/3 of our customers tie flies.  Winter is not a fun time when your business is bleeding cash but we know Spring will be here and so will the fishermen.

Our business is also very weather dependent.  The whole Townsend economy is affected either adversely or positively by weather.  If it rains on weekends, tourism is slow.  If it is pleasant, the campers and those staying in motels, lodges and cabins are here.  If we have a warm spring, fishermen come early.  A late spring makes for a longer winter.  That’s the nature of the beast and we live with it.

I believe, 2014 will be a good year.  For one thing, fuel prices are down and may fall further.  Our country is now drilling more oil than ever before.  We are importing less oil as a percentage of the total.  The United States is the 3rd largest producer of oil.  As natural gas is used for more purposes, oil may be more plentiful and cost less.

The economy is improving.  Read the numbers.  Look at housing which started this mess.  Look at the Gross Domestic Product.  The 3rd quarter of 2013 was up 4.1%. Employment numbers continue to get better.  Things are looking up.  I think we’ll see a very positive turn in 2014.

We are seeing a huge turnover in management at Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to many people who are retiring.  The new management people are going to be dealing with budget shortfalls.  As government tries to slim down, our Park will feel the pain.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  We’ve been dealing with it in business for years.  Trimming fat is good.  Waste is bad.

There is an interesting article in the Daily Times today about the maintenance department at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  You can read it by CLICKING HERE.

This is the most visited National Park in the United States. I sat in on budget meeting at the Park 20 years ago when they were trying to operate on less than $10 million per year.  Park management found out back then, they could get more done with less money by depending on volunteers and donations.  Park volunteers are just as eager to help and raise money as they ever were.  The new partnerships were beneficial.  It worked.

Without a well-managed and maintained National Park, our prosperity in these resort towns outside the gates will suffer.  So, it is in our best interest, to do what we can, to make their job easier and more efficient.  You will be surprised, when you read this article that vandalism is a problem in the Park.  That is just hard for me to comprehend.  Why?

The Park spends a lot of money on search and rescue.  That is a line item in their budget.  People decide to drop out of society by walking into the wilderness, never to return, and you know what?  The Park Service has to go looking for them. 

I think the management has done a good job maintaining this beautiful place.  I will miss Dale, Kevin, Steve, Joel, Bob and others who have or are in the process of retiring.  I’m also looking forward to meeting their replacements.  They all look very young to me.

Before we know it, the streams will warm, quill gordons and blue quills will be hatching and anglers will be visiting again.  One year recently, that started in late February.  We will be ready and more prepared than ever before. 

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

Byron Begley
December 26, 2013

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