National Park and Cades Cove
fly fishingTo fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you need a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license. Licenses are NOT available in the Park, but can be obtained from sources in the towns adjacent to the Park. Non-residents 3-day permits are $10.50 and can be purchased in adjacent towns outfitters, City Hall, and the Chamber of Commerce. A daily permit for Gatlinburg only is $10.50, and a combined permit for both Gatlinburg and the Park is $20.50. Fishing is permitted year round in the Smokies from one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset. Know your fish before you go–the possession of brook trout (speckled) is prohibited. A combination of five rainbow and brown trout per day (minimum 7 inches) is the limit. Only artificial lures and flies may be used, and only one hand-held rod is permitted. Some streams are closed to fishing to protect and study the threatened brook trout. Stop by a ranger station to obtain maps and get answers to questions. For more detailed information, read on. (click here)

The Little Pigeon River
This is the main river that runs through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge but in this section we are only talking about the portion of the river that is inside the National Park. Hwy 441 exits Gatlinburg and enters the park following the West Prong. The Hwy follows the river up the valley all the way to its headwaters but at times the road is several hundred feet above the river. Don’t let this stop you; there are plenty of trails leading from the road to the water and at times the road runs directly on the river bank. The lower section of the river looks the most inviting to fishermen but probably has the lowest concentration of trout due to warmer water temps during the Summer. The best portion of the river to fish will be higher up where the gradient is a little steeper and the water type would be described as large pocket water and deep plunge pools.

This is the river that drains the Greenbriar section of the National Park. It has two main tributaries, Ramsey Prong and Porters Creek.  The drainage as a whole has a wild population of Rainbows, Browns and Brook Trout. When turning off of Hwy 321 onto the Greenbriar park road, most fishermen will find the river in this low area looking very open and inviting  but once again the better fishing is higher up the valley. The section above the parking area at the Ramsey Prong trail head will start to produce more and more Brook Trout the higher a fishermen travels but one can expect to catch plenty of rainbows for a couple miles up the valley.

Roaring Fork
Roaring Fork was rightfully named. It is on the steep side for much of its length so when the fork is full it makes plenty of noise.  It is steep almost gorge-like in places. The strong currents and small but deep plunge pools make some thick, deep bodied Rainbow Trout. The fish will average 8 to 10 inches here but their strength and thickness will fool you. The best stretch of the fork is directly behind the Ephraim Bales place off of Roaring Fork Road (click the album to see the Bales place). This stretch is about 150 yards long and relatively easy to navigate compared to the rest of the stream.  It requires short cast and stealthy approaches. The fish in this stretch seem to rise better for dry flies where much of the stream has very deep plunge pools requiring some good nymphing techniques in order to consistently catch fish.

The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River
The city of Gatlinburg stocks Rainbow Trout in the West Prong from where it exits the National Park all the way to where Gnatty Branch enters the river (almost to Pigeon Forge). They also stock the portions of Leconte Creek and Dudley Creek that run through the city limits. The West Prong is wide and easy going through much of this stretch, making for some beautiful dry fly water. The River is stocked by the bridge crossings every Thursday and fishing is closed on Thursday in the city. Many people will hit the bridge crossings every Friday morning catching many freshly released fish, but during the late Fall through mid-Spring the river is catch-and-release only. During the warm months when people are keeping fish you can still find rainbows holding in the less fished, more oxygenated fast water stretches. Stocked Rainbows average 10 to 14 inches with some hold overs and Brood Fish beating the 20 inch mark. You must buy a special Gatlinburg Trout license that cost $10 per day for nonresidents.

Kids Fishing
The City of Gatlinburg Has Reserved Some Waters for Kids Only.

kid fishingThe most well-known children’s section is located by Herbert Holt Park on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Dudley Creek from Hwy 441 to the West Prong and Leconte Creek, from the National Park boundary to Painters Branch are the other two reserved children’s area. These areas are easy access and have plenty of trout for kids to catch. During the Catch and Keep season it is legal to use bait while fishing these waters.  To get started go to The Smoky Mountain Angler (865) 436-8746) in Gatlinburg and they will get you everything you need.

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