Five Great Smoky Mountain Fishing Spots

Smoky Mountain fishing is fun for the whole family.

Cast your line in the Smoky Mountains for the catch of a lifetime!

Five Great Smoky Mountain Fishing Spots. Smoky Mountain Fishing is one of the most popular activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies have over two thousand miles of streams and rivers within the park boundary.  If you are ready for the challenge, fishing opportunities abound in the Smokies.

Anglers from around the globe visit the park to test their skills in our pristine waters. If you are a novice or a seasoned pro you will be hollerin’ “Fish On” before you know it.  Folks often ask HeySmokies, “What kind of fish do you have in the Smoky Mountains?” The five most common game fish in the Smokies are Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Rock Bass, and Smallmouth Bass. Each of these beauties are a thrill to catch. The HeySmokies fly rod squad agrees that the most beautiful fish we ever caught is the one on the end of our line right now!

The HeySmokies fly rod squad has trekked across the Smokies from end to end over the years and we know where the fish tend to be biting. For those who are unfamiliar with the park here are a few fishing destinations you will want to explore. If you are after Smallmouth bass and Rock bass a couple of good places to begin would be the Big Pigeon River on eastern edge of the park. The Pigeon is easily accessed in Hartford, TN via Interstate 40. The Waterville road I – 40 exit, five miles south of Hartford near Big Creek, is another spot with easy access. If you are after trout you can’t go wrong in Big Greenbrier five miles east of Gatlinburg. Porters Creek and the middle prong of the Little Pigeon river are popular spots in “Big G.” If you plan to visit the North Carolina side of Smokies make plans to cast a line in Cataloochee near Maggie Valley or Deep Creek near Bryson City. Both places offer solitude and a sense of immersion in the mountains.

Brook Trout is the only species of trout native to the Smoky Mountains. This fish is known as “spec” or “speckled trout” by Smoky Mountain natives and is one of the most elusive and difficult to catch. Many anglers are not aware that spec is not a true trout but a “char.” The historic range of char stretches from Canada to north Georgia. “Brookies” in the Smokies usually have a life span of less than three years and rarely grow larger than 8 – 9 inches.

Brown Trout are the largest game fish species in the national park. Primarily found in the

Trout fishing in the Smokies!

Deciding which stream to fish may be the most difficult thing about angling in the Smokies!

lower elevation streams, they thrive in slow moving water with good cover and lot’s of hiding spots. “Brownies” were brought to the the United States from Europe and compete with other species in the Smokies. They are long lived and it is not uncommon for them to survive up to twelve years. The majority caught in the Smokies are six to twelve inches in length and have been known to become thirty inches long weighing eleven pounds. Can you imagine the feeling of reeling in one of those bad boys?

Rainbow Trout are the most common game fish in the Smokies and are highly prized by anglers. Rainbows are found in almost every stream in the national park and are recognized by their familiar pink-toned stripe on their side. Like Brownies, Rainbows are not native to the Smokies, they were introduced from stock in the Northwestern United States. They were released into our mountain streams by logging companies in the early 1900’s. Most Rainbows reeled in by anglers are six to ten inches in length with an average age of three to five years. It is extremely rare to find rainbow trout over twelve inches in length.

Smallmouth bass and rock bass inhabit the lowest elevation streams and rivers in the Smokies on the borders of the park. They prefer cool deeper pools and shaded areas near the banks of the river. These species are native to the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi river. Smallmouth bass are the largest of the two and are usually six to fourteen inches in length. Their lifespan is five to seven years and a five pounder is considered a trophy fish. Rockbass are smaller in size ranging from four to eight inches in length but occasionally reach up to ten inches. Their typical life span is six to eight years.

Bonus angler tip: Did you know only one fishing license is required to fish Great Smoky Mountains National Park? With roughly half the park in North Carolina and the other in Tennessee a valid license from either state gives you total access to over 500,000 square miles of fishing heaven. As if you needed another reason to come fish with us!

More Hey Smokies Features:

Cades Cove Loop Lope 2019
Cades Cove Loop Lope 2019...
Cades Cove Loop Lope is a Great Smoky Mountain Special Event! The Cades Cove Foot Race (AKA – the Cades Cove Loop Lope) hosted by Friends of the[Read More >>]
Ginseng Harvesting
Ginseng Harvesting...
Ginseng Harvesting. Ginseng; miracle plant? Fact or fiction? There are many uses for this fascinating native plant that grows wild and randomly [Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Farmers Markets. Get Your Fresh On!...
Yum Yum! Photo credit: foodie.com Smoky Mountain Farmers Markets. Get Your Fresh On! Smoky Mountain Farmers Markets are open for business! [Read More >>]
Wheels Through Time Museum Showcases Rare Motorcycles
Wheels Through Time Museum Showcases Rare Motorcycles...
Wheels Through Time Museum Showcases Rare Motorcycles. Seventeen of the world’s rarest bikes will be on display for a limited time. Dale’s Wheel[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Pinball Museum's
Smoky Mountain Pinball Museum's...
  Smoky Mountain Pinball Museum's. Gatlinburg’s Pinball Museum offers a step back in time for gamers. The metallic sound of quarters dropp[Read More >>]
Biltmore Gardens Railway
Biltmore Gardens Railway...
Biltmore Gardens Railway is on display at Biltmore Estate from May 24, 2019 through September 29, 2019. For a limited time, in the Conservatory [Read More >>]
Rhododendron Festivals
Rhododendron Festivals...
Rhododendron Festivals at Roan Mountain and Grandfather Mountain herald the beginning of summer. Roan Mountain and Mother Nature team up to show[Read More >>]
Cades Cove Car Ban
Cades Cove Car Ban...
Cades Cove Car Ban began May 2019. Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed to motor vehicles from sunrise until 10:00 a.m. on both Wednesday and Sat[Read More >>]
Catawba Brewery White Zombie 5K
Catawba Brewery White Zombie 5K...
Catawba Brewery White Zombie 5K. Asheville’s Catawba Brewing Company sponsors White Zombie 5k. The first-ever White Zombie 5k on will be run Sat[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon...
Smoky Mountain Strawberry Moon will be viewable Monday, June 17, 2019. The name Strawberry Moon was universally used by the Algonquin native Ame[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Stargazing Event
Smoky Mountain Stargazing Event...
Smoky Mountain Stargazing Event. Star gazing is always a Smoky Mountains special event. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a stargaz[Read More >>]
North America's Longest Footbridge
North America's Longest Footbridge...
North America's Longest Footbridge. Gatlinburg Sky Bridge Opens May 17, 2019. When you travel to Gatlinburg you will have no trouble finding the[Read More >>]
Fourth Annual Appalachian Bear Fest
Fourth Annual Appalachian Bear Fest...
Fourth Annual Appalachian Bear Fest is scheduled for Saturday, June 1, 2019 from 11 a.m. til 3 p.m. at the ABR Visitor and Education Center, 121[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Trillium Gap Rehabilitation Closes Trail
Smoky Mountain Trillium Gap Rehabilitation Closes Trail...
Smoky Mountain Trillium Gap Rehabilitation Closes Trail. Beginning May 13, 2019 work begins on improving the much loved Trillium Gap trail. This[Read More >>]
HighlandersUnite Highland Games Gatlinburg
HighlandersUnite Highland Games Gatlinburg...
HighlandersUnite Highland Games Gatlinburg. The Highlander Games of Gatlinburg (HUGG) are always a Smoky Mountain special event! The games retur[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Tamale recipe. Homemade tamales are always a Smoky Mountain special event! Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are on the edge [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Cinco de Mayo Events
Smoky Mountain Cinco de Mayo Events...
Smoky Mountain Cinco de Mayo Events. Cinco de Mayo (which actually means May 5 in Spanish) is always a Smoky Mountain special event and is proba[Read More >>]
Dollywood Welcomes Wildwood Grove Guests
Dollywood Welcomes Wildwood Grove Guests...
Dollywood Welcomes Wildwood Grove Guests beginning May 2019. This is sure to be a great year for America's favorite theme park. The Wildwood Gro[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Ramp Pesto Recipe
Smoky Mountain Ramp Pesto Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Ramp Pesto Recipe. Ramps, allium tricoccum, have been a Smoky Mountain secret delicacy for generations. This delicious bulb and i[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced...
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced. Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont [Read More >>]