Water Levels Variable But Better Conditions This Week


It was a tough week for fly fishers throughout the Smoky Mountain region. If water levels were negotiable the temperatures were freezing and if the weather was mild the streams were at flood stage. Then there were the hurricane force winds! Wind gusts over 100 mph were recorded in the Smokies during a powerful storm.

Thankfully it’s a new week. Water levels are on the high side in the creeks, but the streams are fishable and weather is forecast to be much milder this week.

I took a short afternoon fishing trip on Little River yesterday. The water was high and the river only marginally fishable. I didn’t see any other fly fishers on the water but did see a good number of kayakers. It was one of those days when about 20% of the water was worth fishing but the rest was either too high or dangerous to bother with.

I started with streamers and didn’t do much. After about 45 minutes I missed a vicious strike on a Clouser Minnow. It came from a pocket along the bank almost right under my feet. The fish was somewhere between 12″-14″ but the hook didn’t take.

I went to one of my reliable spots and found it too high to fish, but I saw a nose regularly poking through the surface in an eddy. I tied on a #18 Hi-Vis Blue Wing Olive and broke that fish off when it ate.

From that point I fished a nymph rig with a #12 Pat Nymph and #14 Z-lon Nymph and started hooking trout with regularity.


Unfortunately the tailwater situation hasn’t gotten any better. There aren’t any tailwaters in East Tennessee with good water levels for wading. Heavy rain this week has put yet more water in the reservoirs. I’m guessing that may have put us back another two weeks before lake levels reach the point where TVA can cut back generation.

Fly of the Month Subscribe