Guided Trips


Things have changed a lot since the last report. Unseasonably warm weather has kicked off the first hatches of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains while an extremely wet February means all of the tailwaters are blown out across middle and east Tennessee.

If you want to fish in the Smokies, nymphs and streamers will be your best bet unless you encounter a hatch. In that case, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons should be in your arsenal as well as Blue-winged Olives.

For now, just forget about the tailwaters in the short term. continued rain means it will be at least another month before the tailwaters are fishable again. With luck, we can start thinking about some streamer float trips on the Caney Fork in mid to late March, although that may be optimistic. In the meantime, head for the mountains and enjoy chasing the wild trout there.

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Exploring the Smokies

While I have fished a majority of the larger drainages in the Smokies with only a few left to check off the list, there are still many small tributaries to explore. Many of these are far enough off of the beaten path that I prefer visiting them with a friend. The streams of the Park are rugged so there is the safety element, and of course it is hard to beat good company while out on the stream. Fly fishing small streams is definitely best with a friend or fly fishing guide.

When Mark from Fishing Small Streams contacted me and mentioned that he would be passing through the area and fishing for a couple of days, I saw an opportunity to meet a fellow small stream enthusiast and explore some new water. Fast forward a couple of months to mid May, and I'm headed up to the Smokies to meet Mark at the campground he is staying at. We discuss the plan for the day while glancing at a map and then head towards the trailhead for our first stream.

A short and pleasant hike gets us to the lower portion of the stream we wanted to target first so we drop in and start fishing. Almost immediately, Mark caught the first fish of the day.

Moving up the narrow creek required climbing over and around large boulders. The exertion was worth it though. Nearly every little pocket was good for at least one trout, the majority of which were some of the prettiest brook trout you will find anywhere although a few rainbows were in the mix as well. Both of us caught several gorgeous fish. Even though they were all small, they made up for it with an attitude suitable for a fish several times their diminutive size.

As we moved along up the stream, I paused to take some scenery shots as well as a picture or two of Mark fishing. On these small streams, shots of a fisherman in action helps put the stream into proper perspective.

Later, I discovered that Mark had taken a few shots of me as well. Here is one of my favorites.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Wittman

I was thoroughly amused when I arrived at the campground and discovered that I would not be the only one wearing camo for this trip. Apparently small stream aficionados think alike.

After we had fished perhaps a quarter mile of water, we decided to hike back and and continue our marathon fishing day by heading to another stream. This one would be new only to Mark. Our decision was confirmed when we reached my car at the trailhead and discovered that another fisherman had arrived while we were fishing and had undoubtedly started somewhere above us. Fishing used water is never a good thing on these small streams so we definitely left at a good time.

The next stream was a lot larger as its name would suggest. Rainbows and a few brown trout inhabit its waters with brook trout up in the headwaters as is the norm on most Smoky Mountain streams. With limited time, we decided to just fish right near where I parked the car. On most streams, I prefer to hike in a ways to get away from the crowds, but this particular stream seems to get less fishing pressure than most. The fish were responding with enthusiasm right away and mostly to dry flies. Does it get any better than this?

By this point, we were both getting a little tired but still had another stream or two to check out. Thankfully, both of them were close to the campground he was staying at so we headed back. To make a long story short, both streams near the campground were great for both small feisty rainbows and some more beautiful specks. The brook trout in this area are prolific, so much so that at least one area stream is used as a collection stream by the NPS when doing brook trout restoration efforts.

With the sun sinking low in the sky and a long drive home, I said goodbye and headed out. It had been a good day on the water with a new friend. Let me know when you are headed down this way again Mark and we'll find some more new streams to check out!

Read Mark's take on our day and the rest of his time in the Smokies HERE.

If you are interested in a guided fly fishing trip to fish small streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please contact me at (931) 261-1884 or at Thank you!


  1. Was wonderful to meet you! Spending the day with you was a highlight to my trip! I have to say that I also noticed your camo shirt right away and smiled inside. I often get strange looks from other fisherman wearing it but stealth is paramount on small streams and that includes thinking about what you are wearing. If you are ever up in New England shoot me an email!

    1. Mark, hopefully we'll be able to fish together again sometime. It was a great day out on the water!

  2. A simply spectacular river and beautiful fish, congratulations.



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