In our backyard, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the most unique and majestic mountain settings with surrounding views you will never forget! With over 1,000 miles of fishable trout water, the Smoky Mountains are a fly fisherman's paradise! Whether it is small rhododendron enclosed streams in the high elevations on the Appalachian Trail, or the wide open spaces of a low elevation stream, our area has everything to offer the most seasoned angler to the first timer. GSMNP offers anglers a chance to fish a truly "Wild" trout fishery. Rainbows, Browns and the Southern Appalachian strain of Brook Trout native to this area are what can be expected, but other game fish including smallmouth bass can be found in these waters. With a myriad of rivers and streams, you can expect the ultimate fly fishing experience throughout the entire park.
Little River is one of the largest rivers in the Smokies. It can be split into 3 distinct sections; East Prong, Middle Prong and West Prong. All of these prongs offer the angler a different and unique fishing experience. East Prong is one of the largest sections of the Little River. The most popular area to fish on East Prong is above The Sinks from the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area to the Elkmont campground. There are a variety of pull-offs available on Little River road just a few yards from the river. East Prong also offers the angler the solitude of backcountry fishing - beginning from the Little River trailhead in Elkmont. A nice hike can usually produce better fishing. East Prong exits the park at the "Y" with it's confluence with the West Prong at the Townsend entrance to the National Park. Below the National Park, Little River becomes an excellent warm water fishery.
The Middle Prong, also known as Tremont is another excellent stream in the Little River watershed. This area can be divided into 2 sections. The first section off of the paved road, consist of long flat pools and relatively level terrain. The second section past the Tremont Institute, is where the river takes on the characteristics of a high elevation stream with large plunge pools and broken pocket water. At the end of the gravel road, you'll find Lynncamp Prong to the left and Thunderhead Prong to the right these two streams form the Middle Prong. Lynncamp is currently closed to fishing due to the reintroduction of Brook Trout. Please be aware of all fishing regulation signs through out the different watersheds.
The West Prong is the smallest section of Little RIver, but do not let its small size deter you from fishing this fine stream. Followed by Laurel Creek Road, West Prong offers many pull-offs along the stream. There are many 4-6 inch rainbows in West Prong, but an occasional stocked trout from Townsend makes its way into the stream. West Prong leaves the road at the confluence with Laurel Creek and a small fishermans trail can be found following the West Prong to its headwaters.
The Little Pigeon River begins off Newfound Gap road in the highest elevations of the Smokies. In its head waters the Little Pigeon offers fine brook trout fishing close to the road. As the Little Pigeon begins its decent, it enters a large canyon with very limited access. Fishing around the Chimneys Picnic area and along the "quiet walk ways" can be very productive. Respect the Little Pigeon watershed — it's a rugged area with a large elevation drop prone to flooding. The Little Pigeon passes the Sugarlands Visitor center as it leaves the National Park and flows into Gatlinburg.
Equipment: Waders should always be worn in the colder months along with felt soled boots. During the warmer months wet wading is the preferred method. Although, it is recommend to stay away from sandals when wading at all times. Clothing is important as well, earth tone colors or even camoflauge are best to wear. Never wear white when fishing the Smokies. A pair of polarized sunglasses is also highly recommended. Not only do the glasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, they'll also protect from hooks getting near your eyes! Polorized lenses are beneficial in spotting fish which can be a lot of fun.
Fly rods from 3-6 weights are great for the Smokies. Length is a personal choice, but I would suggest a 9 foot rod for fishing the larger streams. A 7 to 8 foot rod is good for the smaller streams where even casting a fly can be a real challenge. Leaders in the 7 1/2 to 9 foot length and 4X to 6X range are best. The lower the water the finer your tippet needs to be. Flies vary greatly from season to season.
There are many other mountain streams such as Abrams Creek, West Prong of Little Pigeon (Greenbrier), Deep Creek that deserve your time as well.
If interested in learning more about fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park please contact our Mountain Streams Contributor, Sean McKay at 865 567-2441 or visit him online.