Low Water Conditions in the Smokies

Water conditions are low in the Smokies, not the lowest we’ve ever seen, but still low. We’re actually getting some rainfall several days a week. The Smoky Mountains shove warm, moist air high into the stratosphere where it condenses into thunderheads that provide brief showers. The problem is that the rain showers are relatively brief and soaked up by the soil. Run off has been minimal, but retention of the moisture is keeping the streams from getting any lower. One thing that remains positive is that overnight temperatures are pretty cool in the mountains. Night time temperatures are often in the 50’s in the higher elevations and rarely reach 85 in the day. The combination of shade and elevation keeps the water in the mid 60’s or lower.

We’ve maintained a focus on higher elevation streams where water temperatures remain cool. However, not all of these streams are good right now. Walker Camp Prong along Highway 441 is particularly low right now. Little River has workable flows, but the river is fishing best around Elkmont or upstream of there. Almost all of the best water is accessed by trail right now.

The fishing on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam is still holding up very well. The dry fly fishing is spotty, but we’re still getting into some rising trout. Smallmouth bass have moved upstream and we’re seeing a few of them. Tim Doyle has had several anglers hook smallies and red eyes on poppers. We have a couple of floats on the Holston where smallmouth are more prevalent than trout in the summer. We’re planning to float the Pigeon River for smallies this week. This is strictly recreational from our stand point, but we’ll probably incorporate the information into future guided trip offerings. We’ve floated the Pigeon a few times and always done well. We’ve just never fished it enough times to really become familiar with the water the way we are with other rivers and streams we guide.