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Hatchie Dawg
03-12-2009, 10:40 PM
Hello to everyone. I'm another newbie with some newbie questions and I would ask for your patience. With my family I will vacation in Gatlinburg this summer around mid July. I am not crazy about the carnival atmosphere but my daughters love it.

I would like to fish a bit while there and with that in mind have actually started to look forward to the trip, Gatlinburg or not. I am an experienced outdoorsman but have done little trout fishing and even less fly fishing for trout. Years ago I caught what I discovered was a very nice brown trout between 17 and 18" on Little River pulling a Mudler Minnow behind a gold spinner, but that is about it for my Park experience. I do have Don Kirk's book Smoky Mountain Trout Fishing Guide.

I have several questions but would appreciate some general opinions on river choices. I know weather, water level, and temperature will play a big part in the decision making come July, but at this point I am looking at a few choices.

Before I found this board I was looking at Cataloochee and the Oconaluftee systems but after finding this board I started thinking about the WPLP, and Deep Creek up from the campground or even possibly a shot at an overnight trip with my youngest daughter to upper Deep Creek around 53. I have kind of laid off the Little River system secondary to high pressure but I am not outright opposed to it.

I know we are a long way off but opinions and advice would be appreciated. I will be fishing at times with my 11 yo daughter. She is fit and loves the outdoors.

Thanks in advance and thanks again to Paula and Byron for making this great resource available.

nvr2L8
03-13-2009, 05:32 PM
Hatchie Dawg,

Where to start?! If you are coming in July, a higher up stream might be a good idea. If you're looking for easy access out of Gatlinburg, I would suggest going up to the West Prong of the Little Pigeon (WPLP) as you mentioned in your post, Road Prong, or Walker Camp Prong. All are easy to get to and might be a good first exposure for the 11 year old daughter as they can also be a fairly easy exit if she gets bored with it all.
If you guys don't mind a little physical challenge, fishing the gorge of the WPLP is always a great choice. There are some entry points and choices for exit depending on how long you want to fish. Lots of rock-hopping (more like boulder hopping) that the daughter (and you) might enjoy if you guys are adventurous. What you should experience there is a mixture of rainbow and brook trout with rainbows being the predominant actor.

Road Prong dumps into WPLP at the Chimney Tops trailhead. To get to some really nice brook trout waters, you can hike up a ways and then get onto some really nice small stream fishing. Interesting climbing over rocks, fallen trees and such that could be fun for a younger one and a couple of water falls as well.

Walker Camp Prong combines with Road Prong to form WPLP at the Chimney Tops trailhead and is probably the safest bet if there's a chance the young one could get bored. The river runs right along Highway 441 for several miles and, wherever you put in, you're never far from your car. Rainbows get fairly high up but brookies become the main player further up.

Something to consider in the Little River system is parking at the Elkmont campground and walking up the Little River trail. The further up you go, the less pressure there is. It's more of a walk than a hike as it is a fairly easy grade. Beautiful place to go and you can get into cooler waters and away from people within an hour's walk or more. Also easy to get to from Gatlinburg.

These are a few options and there's much more that folks can share with you on all these places between now and your trip. If Pete is listening in, he can give you the rundown on Deep Creek, one of his favorite haunts.

Hatchie Dawg
03-14-2009, 11:29 PM
Thanks for the reply nvr. You gave me just the kind of help I was looking for. I do have another question though. I see Walker Camp Prong mentioned regularly on the board. In his book Kirk rates the fishing as poor because of some stream damage from an acidic shale formation exposed when the road was made. Is there anything to that? Has the stream recovered? Just wondering.

The gorges section of the WPLP does interest me and I have done a search on the board but I am not sure exactly where it starts. If the fishing is decent it would make sense to stay close to Gatlinburg.

Thanks again. I would love to hear about Deep Creek from someone. It has really piqued my interest.

nvr2L8
03-14-2009, 11:49 PM
Walker Camp Prong fishes just fine. It's a beautiful stream with lots of variety and with both willing rainbows and brookies. One of my favorite stretches is going up above the Chimney Tops trailhead and getting in just past the curly-Q tunnel. There's a pull-off on the left and the stream is easily accessible on the right. Some really nice water upstream from there. Or just start at the Chimney Tops trailhead and work upstream from that point. You can also go up to the Alumn Cave Bluff trailhead for Mt. LeConte and there's some really nice water up that way.

As to the gorge, depending on how ambitious you are there are several options. If you move fast and don't wear out too soon, you can start at the Chimneys picnic area and fish up to the Chimney Tops trailhead. This requires two cars as it is a long hike back; and that is a full day of fishing and not for the faint of heart. I have never tried this complete treck through the gorge myself and I wouldn't recommend it for a first time out.

As a less ambitious alternative, you can go on past the picnic area, around a hairpin turn in the road and up about 1.2 miles to a large pull-off on the right where there is a nature exhibit sign. You can go down to the river by a trail from that pull-off and fish your way up to the trailhead from there. You can still have a full day of fishing with this option and I would strongly recommend this for a first attempt at the gorge. You can also go up the bank before you get to the trailhead when you are first able to see the road again from the river and this is still a pretty good day of fishing.

Note that walking back from either the Chimney Tops trailhead or the nearer option back to the nature exhibit pull-off both require that you walk back through a tunnel. If you do this, there is a ledge about 5 feet above the roadway to walk on. Just be aware that the cars going through the tunnel are all going to honk and, if you're not prepared they'll scare you off that ledge. Nothing like a little fun to end a great day of fishing.

Here are a couple of earlier posts on Deep Creek that you might be interested in:
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10750&highlight=deep+creek
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9205&highlight=deep+creek

Hatchie Dawg
03-15-2009, 08:12 PM
Thanks again nvr. I guess one of my biggest questions is whether or not taking a shot at say 53 would be too much for an 11yo. I know it depends on the kid, but again just wondering in general. My daughter is fit, plays midfielder, and duck hunts public land with me. My gut feeling is that she would be up to it, probably even better than me but I have never seen it. We have done some camping even on the MS during duck season but never anything in the mountains where we would certainly have to pack very lite, but then again we shouldn't need much for just one night.

Would the lower end of Deep Creek around 60 or 59 be more advisable for newbies or does it even matter? How does the river fish down towards the bottom and will it be too warm that time of year?

These are just some of my rambling questions. My daughter and I both like adventures but we will be out of our element. We are more at home chasing ducks or turkeys or catfish around West TN than doing anything in the mountains.


Thanks again

I think your help has moved the gorges of the WPLP into the current #1