East Tennessee waters, including and surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, compile one of the country’s most diverse fishing grounds. From its Tennessee Valley Authority lakes to the tailwaters below its damns to the variety of freestone rivers and the 800 miles of natural fishable waters in the Park, there is a diversity here that is unique. It is uncommon in any weather, drought or monsoon, not to be able to find refuge fishing on a waterway here. And that’s within 50 miles of Townsend, the location of Troutfest.
From the main gate of this event, you can walk 300 yards and be standing on the banks of Little River, which originates from three main tributaries in the Park and eventually flows into the mighty Tennessee River. All three prongs of Little River offer excellent fly fishing. Abrams Creek is close to Townsend in Cades Cove one of the most beautiful places in the world. Abrams is a limestone stream fed by springs.
Smallmouth bass can be stalked on many of the rivers close by including Little River, French Broad, Clinch, Holston, Pigeon, Tellico, Nolichucky and Tennessee River. Lakes nearby include Chilhowee, Cherokee, Fort Loudon, Tellico, Norris and others. A less severe cold season and abundance of rain over the normally dryer winter months this year promises excellent conditions for the spring of 2012.
The 500,000 acre park has over 800 miles of fishable trout streams. Wild rainbow and brown trout inhabit most of the rivers and small streams. Brook trout can be found in the higher elevation streams. Stocking was stopped in the early 70’s so what we have here is a sustaining population of wild trout.
Most streams are freestone, free flowing and clear. There are no dams in the Smokies. Test your skills on the larger rivers with road access or hike into the backcountry using the numerous trails to get away from people and back to nature. Rainbow and Brown trout live in the lower elevation streams. Brook trout are found in the higher mountains.
Aquatic insects here are diverse. Mayflies, caddis and stoneflies make up the major hatches that you will encounter during Troutfest. May is one of the best months to fish here.
To fish in Great Smoky Mountains National Park you will need a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license. If you are from out of state you can purchase a 3 day, 10 day or annual Tennessee license in Townsend or on line at http://www.state.tn.us/twra/licensefees.html.
Make Troutfest a fishing vacation. You could not pick a better time or place.