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

Welcome to the Fishing Report and “Happy New Years Eve”.  Another one slipped by quickly.  It is foggy and 31 degrees in Townsend, Tennessee this morning.  When I say foggy, I mean it is really foggy. 

Little River still continues to flow strong at 598 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 2.9 feet on the flow gauge.  Median flow for this date is 296 cfs.  The water temperature at 8:15 am is 43.3 degrees.

Some anglers are fishing in the Park.  Their results are varied.  Fishing was better a week ago when the water was warmer.  The water temperature hit nearly 48 degrees on Christmas Eve. Fishing was pretty good that day. It was close to 47 degrees day before yesterday.  Now, it is lower.

The brown trout have been fairly active.  One of our regular local customers told me yesterday he has been catching some nice fish.  I think fishing will improve, especially tomorrow.  It is going to be sunny and warm, over 50 degrees in the valley.  Then, cold temperatures will move in Thursday night.  We even have a 40% chance for snow.  Friday will be sunny and cold with a high in the low 30’s.  I believe tomorrow might be your day.  Most of us, even us, will be off tomorrow.

Use nymphs and get them down.  Don’t do much wading.  High sticking close to the bank is what I would do.  Be careful.  The streams are swift and cold.  Falling in could have very negative consequences.  The water levels will continue to drop today and tomorrow.  How much, I don’t know.  Little River has been dropping slowly or so it seems.

At my age, time moves fast.  Spring will be here soon.  Last year, (I think) we had spring hatches in February.  Maybe it was the year before that.  In 2013, spring came late.  And, on top of that, we had lots of rain.  Those conditions kept us off the streams for weeks.  We don’t know what will happen this spring but as a business that caters to fly fishermen, we need to be ready by late February, just in case.

Being ready means, thousands of flies in the bins and in back stock.  It means, leaders and tippet packed on the walls.  Quill Gordon and Blue Quill dry flies better be here.  We’ll need lots of floatant.  Instead of the usual 100 bottles of Frogs Fanny, we better have a lot more.  Then, we will wait for Spring to break. 

Spring trout fishing activity picks up in the Smokies when the water temperature reaches somewhere near 50 degrees and stays there for a few days.  The early bugs start popping off the water.  Trout begin to slurp them down.  I am getting excited just writing about it.

The word gets out quickly.  I try to be conservative and not get your hopes up too much.  But, when it happens, it happens in the lower elevations where the water is warmer.  Then, the activity moves up to the higher elevations.  What begins is a long time period, over a few months, when different aquatic insects mate.  The insects are the darker varieties at first.  Those that hatch later are lighter.  You may see dark mayflies on the water up high, and the later insects on the water down low.  Spring is an awesome time to be here unless we have too much rain.  When the fishing gets really good is mostly dependent on water temperature and the weather.  Sometimes it is in late February but most likely sometime in March.

People who fly fish for smallmouth bass are watching the water temperature too.  I look for 55 degree water.  Sixty degrees is even better.  When those fierce fish start moving around and thinking about spawning, good times can be had by all.  We have so much good smallmouth bass water around here, it’s hard to decide where to start.  Little River or the Little Pigeon is where I will start. 

So, we’ve got a couple of months or maybe longer to get ready.  Getting ready is my favorite part of the game.  After all, anticipation is what brought us to this sport.  Whether we are at home tying flies or making a cast into our favorite trout stream, it’s that “anticipation” that we love.  “I am anticipating that this fly will be the perfect one.”  “Will I get a strike on this cast?”  “I’ve got him on, will I get him in?”  We don’t know!  We think we know.  We hope we know.  Sometimes we are right, and often we are wrong.  Isn’t that why we do this? 

Well, that’s only part of it.  We really love being where we are when we are fly fishing.  We are close to God.  We admire what he created.  And we are thankful for that.

Paula can tell you this.  I spend a lot of time just driving the boat around the lake doing about one mile per hour.  I could do that all day.  I look at the water, the mountains, the eagles and ospreys, and just slowly take in that beautiful setting.  I love watching fish swim.  I don’t have to catch fish to enjoy them.

I can sit for hours and watch a stream.  You would think I’m watching the same thing over and over.  That’s not true.  Streams have subtle changes that occur every second.  Stream watching, over a long period of time, has a mesmerizing affect on my brain.  I feel relaxed.  You know what I am talking about don’t you?

It won’t be long!

I didn’t plan to say all of this today.  It just happened.

We will be closed tomorrow but open again Thursday.

Have a great day, a super New Year and make some time for fly fishing anticipation.  It’s good for you. 

Byron Begley
December 31, 2013

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