To be clear, we’re used to flows on the tailwaters lacking absolute consistency. We get reliable flows in the spring when the reservoirs are filling, then in June you need to pay more attention but you can usually divine a pattern from it that you can work with. We came to terms with this fact of East Tennessee fly fishing years ago.
But this year the flows in the mountain streams are doing the same thing and we have to check the gauges just to know which streams are workable. Little River, our home water in the Smokies, is giving us fits because of wet weather.
On the other hand, not all streams are blown out so depending on where you go you’ll find high, dirty water or perfect June stream flows. In short, it’s driving us crazy. June is the month where we’ll find ourselves in a variety of locations anyway. Anything from brook trout streams to tailwater trout rivers or big bass rivers plus smallmouth bass creeks. Keeping up with one or two rivers is one thing. Keeping up with ALL OF THEM can drive you crazy.
And so it goes…
But in spite of the hassle of figuring out where to go, the fishing has been good once we got there. While the flows are maddeningly erratic it’s nice when the fish cooperate when you get there!
Even so, we’re still nervous about the tailwater situation as reservoir levels are still exceptionally high with robust inflows. As the summer wears on we’ll hit the point where TVA typically bumps flows to begin the slow drain of the lakes. That could require some very high flows if this weather pattern doesn’t break soon.
Just like the tailwater the mountain streams are fishing really well so long as the water is right. To be completely honest about it, I’m sure the trout are really enjoying these flows since they’re similar to what we see in the spring and water temperatures are pleasantly cool even in the lower elevations.
And there’s no doubt about it. It’s time for fly fishing the backcountry in the Smokies. The mild weather makes long hikes easier and the brook trout are always attacking dry flies. And the scenery ain’t bad either.
Just be sure to bring a rain jacket. Chances are you’ll need it!