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106 Town Square Drive
P.O. Box 505
Townsend, Tennessee 37882
Open 7 Days
Sunday thru Thursday 9 am - 5 pm
Friday & Saturday 9 am - 6 pm

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Fob Fightmaster fly fishing in a Smokies stream.

Guide Rob Fightmaster fly fishing in a Smoky Mountains Stream -

The Fishing Report 05/17/24 Great Smoky Mountains National Park and East Tennessee
Time of Readings 6:00 am Eastern Time Zone : CFS=Cubic Feet Per Second

Fishing Gauge indicating fishing is good.

Water Temperature Little River
Stream Flow
Rainfall 2024 YTD Knoxville Apt
Rainfall Normal YTD Knoxville Apt

58.64 Fahrenheit
2.31 Feet 303 CFS

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

Welcome to the weekly fishing report.  That is still a bit odd after all these years of Byron toiling away every morning writing it.  If conditions change, like they did over the past couple of days, you can always call us at the Shop and we can let you know what is going on.

This past week has been a wild one for weather.  There has been solar storms bringing us an extremely rare view of the Aurora Borealis.  We have had rain and thunderstorms. Amazingly the rivers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are in better shape than they were a week ago.  

Rain storms were isolated and didn't blow out the Smokies streams.  Water levels in the Little River watershed are back to flowing normal for this time of year.  This morning the gauge is reading 2.31 feet or 303 c.f.s. which is almost exactly what it was last year.  Water temperatures are warming nicely.  

The Little Pigeon River is flowing high as a result of isolated storms yesterday.  This morning it is flowing at 1,260 c.f.s. while the normal flow should be 400 c.f.s.

The Oconoluftee River system is flowing high also.  A storm must have happened at near Newfound Gap sending water down both sides of the mountain.

Tellico River is flowing a little higher than normal but pretty close.  Water levels can change quickly as a result of storms so check with the USGS pages before making the drive.

What's been happening in the Smokies?  All week we have seen improving water conditions.  Water levels have dropped and temperatures have remained stable.  Both are ideal for good fishing.  Bug activity has been good.  The color has shifted to the creams, tans and yellows.  Anglers are seeing Yellow Sally hatches in the evenings.  If I was heading to the Smokies in the coming week my dry fly box would have some Light Cahill dry flies in size 14.  I'd have some Sulphur type patterns in a 16.  Smoky Mountain Candy in 12 to 16.  I would also be refreshing my selection of Yellow Sally patterns with Yellow Stimulators, Neversink Caddis and whichever other new ones that catch my eye.  
In the nymph box I'd have some euro style flies with plenty of weight, some Pat's Rubberlegs for if the water came up, and some Pheasant tails for droppers.  I'd also be tying up some Green Weenies to run behind my Yellow Sally dry. 

The Green Weenie is one of those flies that I'd rather tie than buy.  Cheap and easy, consisting of nothing more than Ultra Chenille, thread and a hook.  It is the first fly we tie in our Beginner Fly Tying Class (next one coming up on Saturday June 8).  My preferred style is the classic unweighted version.  The main insect which it represents is an inch worm.  These are terrestrial insects and falling into the water they are mostly going to be in the top few inches of the water column.  Do the bead head and weighted versions work, absolutely.  I've just always preferred the unweighted one.  It also makes a great dropper fly as being lighter it doesn't require as large a dry fly to support it.

What hasn't been happening in the Smokies.  Brood XIX cicadas.  Cicadas have emerged around Blount County but they don't seem to be in the Townsend area or in the Smokies.  The best reports we have been getting is from south of us towards Chattanooga.  They should also be over in middle Tennessee though high water flows on the Caney Fork have made that river difficult to fish.
Anglers who have been having success at finding the hatch are out on the warm water lakes.  Carp and bass are their main quarry.  I listened to an episode of the Southeastern Fly Podcast the other night.  Host David Perry was talking with David Knapp and Andrew Smalling about fishing cicadas.  They had some excellent points and it was a fun listen.  Probably the main thing I took from it was one of the guides said to not go too big on the flies.  We have a tendency to think that bigger is better but that isn't always the base.  Bear in mind that cicadas are big bugs but they might not be as large as you think.  The ones I've seen around my house are only about an inch and a quarter long.  Other ones are probably closer to three quarters of an inch.  
If you have a boat or a friend with a boat now is the time to dust off that 8wt rod, buy some new bass leaders and head out on the water in search of some incredible topwater carp action.  When you hook up remember that these aren't little Smokies brook trout and you will have to let them run and play them for a bit.  Over stressing the rod will result in some tears but possibly a great tale of the one that got away.

Rain is in the forecast Friday and Saturday.  These are chances of rain meaning that they are going to be isolated storms so they could have major impact in some areas while leaving other unaffected.  Keep an eye on water levels while fishing as water levels can rise frighteningly fast.

We got a new guy starting at the Shop this week.  Jonathan Foust.  We're excited.  He's excited.  He's got some skills which should help drag us out of the dark ages and into the realm of more digital content.  

The sun is up.  Time to head to Townsend.  Come see us at the Shop and always feel free to give a call to check on current conditions.

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

Daniel Drake
May 17, 2024

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Respond to:

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USGS Stream Gauges
West Prong Little Pigeon Gatlinburg
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Lake Information and Tailwater Generation Schedules

Fontana North Carolina
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