Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains Fly Fishing Report by Smoky Mountain Angler.
*If you’re here to read about fishing conditions only, skip on down to the “Great Smoky Mountains National Park” section.*
If you’re visiting this page for a little help deciding whether or not you should go fishing, you’ve come to the right place. Grab your waders, your nymph box, and a thermos of coffee…cold days may mean slower fishing, but today just may be the day that big fish decides to hang on!
Before I get into the fishing conditions, I’ve got some important news that you should know about! As Gatlinburg’s oldest fly shop, we have a lot of loyal customers. If you’re one of those “regulars,” we’d like to first say thanks for supporting us, and second that the next time you pay us a visit, we may be in a new location! Don’t worry, we’re not moving far (in fact, we’re still in the same parking lot!) We’re expecting to be very busy for the next few weeks, so this report may get neglected. As of now, we’ve got our fly tying materials, and a few various items moved to our new location (but we’d be happy to walk over and grab what you need if you visit us before our big move!) We’re excited about a “fresh start,” and our friends at the Smoky Mountain Spinnery are excited to expand into our old stompin’ grounds! So the next time you head our way for anything trout fishing related, or the next time you’re in Gatlinburg and would like to come visit us a while, keep your eyes open, we may have completed our move to 469 Brookside Village Way!
I would like to stress the fact that even though we are in the process of moving, WE WILL REMAIN OPEN at 466 Brookside Village Way UNTIL THE MOVE IS COMPLETED. We’ve still got all our gear, and we’re still booking winter trips (don’t forget your jacket) so come on by and see us!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
If you’re heading out to the National Park to fish, be absolutely sure you remember your nymph box. You’re gonna want a good supply of Pheasant Tails, Prince Nymphs, Girdle Bugs, Tellico Nymphs, Hare’s Ears, and Copper Johns. This time of year, I like to have all those flies in various sizes! For the Girdle Bugs, I’ll have sizes ranging from 12s all the way up to 6s! I like to keep a handful of sizes 16s through 10s in all my other nymph patterns. I’m more conservative with them, but I like to have a few beadless versions, a few flashback versions, and a few rubberleg versions of my nymph patterns…sometimes even the slightest difference can be all it takes to have a great day! Last November, I spotted a BIG Little River brown trout by complete chance. I remember getting a perfect drift by it with a size 10 beadless Prince Nymph above a size 12 tungsten Pheasant Tail. (Now would be a good time to mention that using tandem nymphs is a GREAT tactic! When I fish with nymphs, I like to leave off indicators and either feel the fish, or watch the line to detect strikes, but there is no shame in throwing indicators. Big, bushy Stimulators make wonderful indicators…just be sure to keep that dude floating high so you can see it!) When my nymph rig reached the big brown, my line tightened and I set the hook into what I expected to be my Little River record…it wasn’t though. Instead, I had about a 10″ brown on my Tungsten Pheasant Tail. If I’ve ever been disappointed to catch a 10″ fish, that was the time! I got the fish to net and released it quickly so I wouldn’t spook the big brown…several drifts later I decided to switch flies. I tied on a big, ugly rubberleg Hare’s Ear. That 22″ female brown took it on the first drift. I played her as quickly as possible, and snapped pictures while I freed her. Since that outing, I’ve always been sure to keep as many variations of the standard nymphs as possible!
If you decide to go to Little River, be patient. Work the entire hole you’re fishing, and be sure to get your nymphs down deep! There’s no spot on Little River any better than the other (although I do have my favorite sections,) so pick a spot you’re comfortable with and get fishing!
Greenbrier would be a good option as well. There aren’t any brown trout in Greenbrier anymore, but there are some nice size rainbows! Fish it the same way I’ve described Little River and you’ll catch fish! Go up towards Ramsey’s for brook trout. Scale your flies down a bit if you go up high, but the same patterns will work throughout the whole river.
I like to tell people to go to Little River for the quality of fish, go to Greenbrier for the quantity, and go to the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River for a combination of the two. That river always fishes well about anywhere you go! When the fishing is tough elsewhere, I’ll go around the Chimneys and catch some nice rainbows with the occasional brook trout.
The Gatlinburg waters have been producing good rainbows averaging between 10 and 16 inches pretty consistently. You can catch these fish anytime, but it’s best to get an early start along River Road so you can find an easy parking spot along the road. If you can’t find a free spot, there’s plenty of paid parking through town.
If you want a little more scenery, head down the spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Brighter, flashier flies will work in both areas, but you can get away with more “natural” patterns along the spur.
If you’re spin fishing, throw single hook spinners or trout magnets. Keep in mind that Gatlinburg’s delayed harvest will be starting December 1. You may use live bait and keep a total of 5 fish BEFORE December 1, but you’ll have to use strictly artificial lures and release any fish you catch AFTER December 1. Gatlinburg has a single hook rule throughout the entire year, so treble hooks are never allowed. There is no rule against barbed hooks, but it’s always a good idea to smash them down before fishing…removing a barbed hook is much easier on the fish (or whatever else you may hook!)
Be sure to head out early enough to swing by and see us on your way to the river! We’ve got everything you’ll need to have a productive time on the river, and we’ll be more than happy to give you a map and point you to some specific areas! No matter where you decide to fish, be sure to drop in and let us know how you did!
If you have any questions about fishing conditions, locations, or you would like to book a trip with one of our local, professional guides, give us a call at 865-436-8746 or shoot us an email via the Contact page.