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Smoky Mountains fishing
Smoky Mountains fishing

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

The 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 our favorite 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. When I take my kids fishing during the Open season I let them use my 5 weight fly rod with a piece of red worm 18 inches under a strike indicator. During the closed season I let them use the same set up but with a flashy nymph instead of bait. My kids always catch at least one trout if not more and we have a lot of fun. Thank you Gatlinburg for such a great place to fish with my kids. Please take your kids fishing it is one of the healthiest activities you can do with your children. To get started go to The Smoky Mountain Angler (865) 436-8746) in Gatlinburg and they will get you every thing you need.

Smoky Mountains fishing

Roaring Fork

Brook Trout

Smoky Mountains fishing


Click on Albums to see more Smoky Mountains Fishing Photos

Smoky Mountains fishing

The West Prong of 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 it’s 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 like what is shown at right. The lower section of the river looks the most inviting to fisherman 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. The last time I fished this river the bite was hot but I never landed anything bigger than about 11 inches. For what it is worth the largest wild rainbow I have ever hooked in the park was in this river and he was at least 14 inches but he spit my number 18 so I don’t have the pictures to prove it. I guess it’s possible that it was a stocked fish that swam up the river from Gatlinburg but I was several miles deep into the park.

West Prong of the Little Pigeon River

Smoky Mountains fishing
Smoky Mountains kids fishing

City of Gatlinburg Managed Streams

Take Your Kids Fishing

The Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River (Greenbriar)

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 fisherman will find the river in this low area looking very open and inviting (like the picture at left) but once again the better fishing is higher up the valley. If I had to say what the best stretch of river is I would say the first mile of it below Ramsey Prong. Ramsey Prong on the other hand has great fishing for most of it’s length. Keep in mind when I say great fishing I mean plenty of fish but the Prong is steep and difficult to navigate (probably why there are so many trout). The section above the parking area at the Ramsey Prong trail head will start to produce more and more Brook Trout the higher a fisherman travels but one can expect to catch plenty of rainbows for a couple miles up the valley.

Roaring Fork was rightfully named. It is on the steep side for much of it’s length so when the fork is full it makes plenty of noise. I have only fished the section of the fork that the road follows but even having the road beside you does not mean that walking the fork is easy. 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. I have caught several fish in this stretch but 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. This stream and one other are my go to streams when much of the park is suffering from high water. it seems the water level here rarely stays too high to fish for more than a couple of hours after a heavy soaking. Other streams will take a day are two to recede after heavy rains, so put that in your bag of tricks and save it for a heavy Spring rain.


Where are the Brook Tout?

Nearly all of the National Parks headwaters hold Brook Trout. The problems are that the headwaters are remote, they are small and the fish are smaller. With that said I will give you some hope. There are a few streams that are large enough to enjoyably fish and hold Brook Trout that achieve size comparable to the Park’s Rainbows. The stream I fish is very easy to access and probably one of the lowest elevations in the Smokies that Brookies are plentiful. It is well known among the local anglers but not so much outside of the Gatlinburg fly fishing community. Originally I was not going to disclose this jewel of a stream but lucky for you I have changed my mind so here it is, Leconte Creek. Getting to the creek is not hard but it is not obvious either. You can email us at we will be glad to tell you where to fish Leconte Creek. If you fish Leconte too close to the Park boundary you will only find Rainbows but not too far upstream and into the park  Brookies will become the primary species if not the only species.

The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River Managed by the City of Gatlinburg.

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 don’t worry 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.

Other Streams

There are so many streams to fish in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park that an angler has a hard time deciding where to start. The streams listed above are just a few of my favorites. I have fished three times as many streams as mentioned above but I have not photo documented them yet. Check back every few months to see streams that I am planning to add, until then here are some other areas I recommend fishing in the National Park; Abrams Creek, the Elkmont area (tributaries of the Little River), the Tremont area (Middle Prong of the Little River), and Cataloochee Creek (good Brown Trout). A fishing trip to the National Park would not be complete with out a visit to the Little River also known as the East Prong of the Little River (road side). This river is known for it’s great Brown Trout fishing and occasionally it gives up some monster Brown Trout. Brown Trout over ten pounds have been caught in this river. Go fish and enjoy the incredible streams of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I already mentioned in the children’s section “The Smoky Mountain Angler” but I can’t emphasize enough how helpful and full of information the folks at this store are, so when you drive through Gatlinburg stop by and visit them.

Where To Fish

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has over 2000  miles of streams and most of them are open to Fishing.

The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina provide a rare fishing opportunity to anglers in the Eastern United States and especially the South East. The streams of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are one of the few areas Southern anglers can experience cold water trout fishing. Although the Rainbow and Brown Trout were introduced this is a wild trout fishery. The native Eastern Brook Trout are still present especially in the smaller head waters of the Smokies. All but the largest of streams are primarily fly fishing streams. The majority of the streams have a steep gradient and lots of pocket water making fly fishing the preferred method over spin fishing. The hard core spin fishermen will still find plenty of opportunities in the larger streams of the lower valleys. In fact the last couple of miles of the Little River, before it exits the park, is so deep that spin fishing may be the more practical method. The section of The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River that runs through Gatlinburg is a “put and take” stream. This area offers some beautiful dry fly water as well as plenty of deeper open water for spin fishing. For more details on some of my favorite streams read below and enjoy the photos.

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