View Full Version : Your First Time Fishing in GSMNP

01-09-2010, 05:09 PM
Since there isn't a much fishing to be had right now, it may be a good time to share some stories.

What was your first time fishing in the Smokies like? Did you go with anyone? Where did you go? What gear/flies did you try? What did you catch? etc.

I'll add mine later.

01-09-2010, 05:51 PM
After many trips to the Smokies, I finally gave in to the desire to fish the rivers. About four years ago was the first time my son and I fished in the park. After stopping at LRO we went fishing in Metcalf Bottoms. I thought to myself that a couple of novices have no chance of catching any fish. My son was about ten years old at the time, and it was his first experience with a flyrod. After about a half an hour or so, my son decided to fish toward the end of the long, slow run. He laid the fly right at the overhang of the river bank and shouted "I got one!" I thought to myself, yea, right, he's just hung up. To my suprise, he brought to hand a itty bitty 'bow. It didn't matter what the size, as long as he caught one. To make the experience even better, he caught that fish in front of Mom, Dad, and Grandma and Grandpa! We have fished the Park a couple of times since then, but have been skunked on our other trips. We fished a liitle on Thuunderhead prong during extremely low water, And tried to fish this past October but the rivers were flowing a little too fast for our taste. This is what makes for great memories! I can't imagine fishing in the Park without my little buddy along by my side. I hope we have many more trips together before he is grown and gone. Sorry to ramble on so long. flyguys

01-09-2010, 07:55 PM
My first time fly fishing in the Smokies was my first time fly fishing. My son and I had a beginning fly fishing lesson (through LRO) with Walter Babb in late March 2007. I finally ventured out on my own in early May and went to Middle Prong just above the Tremont Institute. Caught 4 trout as I recall and all on a Parachute Adams. I think in that first year, I never ventured from that one pattern.

I can remember thinking (very loudly - you can do that, you know, change the volume of your thoughts) with that first one, "I caught a trout! I caught a trout! I caught a trout!" :eek: Been hopelessly hooked ever since.

01-09-2010, 08:55 PM
My first time fishing the park and fishing with a flyrod was last fall with a local guide. I missed way more fish than I caught but as the guide kept telling me at least I was fooling the fish. The water was really flowing on that day and it was alot harder casting and trying to keep my balance than it is in my back yard. I look forward to spring and many more visits and memories to make.

01-09-2010, 10:37 PM
I stopped by the shop and picked up some boots and waders with Bill's help. Bought some flies and tied on a BHPTN and went up by the bridge at Treemont (this was my very first day fly fishing). Caught a bow. Came back and told Bill how much I liked it and went back to the exact same spot the next day! I've come a long way and still have a long way to go, but at least I can catch one now when I go.

01-10-2010, 09:46 AM
The first time I fished the Smokies was on my 10th wedding anniversary. The wife wanted to go to Las Vegas, I talked her into a cabin around Townsend.

She hiked up MP of LR and MP of LP with me. I was on a quest to add the state of TN to my list of states which contain (native) brookies.

Funny story though: She doesn't hike or fish, but she does smoke. When we left the trailhead on both streams, she took four cigarettes with her, and she informed me when she's done smoking - I'm done fishing!

I struck out on MP of LR, although I must have caught 50 rainbows. I started getting nervous on MP of LP, but I did manage one brookie before she ran out of smokes. I also learned that I would never make it as a tournament fisherman because I don't fish well under pressure.

This year will be our 15th anniversary, doubt I can talk her into it again, she wants to go somewhere "tropical". Maybe the Smokies will have unseasonably warm temps at the end of May. :biggrin:


01-10-2010, 10:02 AM
The first time I fly fished in the Smokys I had just learned to cast in the backyard. I took several days off from work and camped at Elkmont. I fished the Little River from one end to the other without luck. In a moment of ultimate humiliation, I was wading a thin riffle when I spooked a trout that was lying in a litttle pocket of the riffle. The trout darted upstream between two rocks just as brought my foot down between those same rocks. I stepped on the trout. Imagine stepping on more trout than you caught on a fly rod. I finally caught a little trout that was rising under some bushes not far from where I stepped on the trout. He took a black ant. He was the only trout I caught the entire trip. Humbly yours, Silvercreek

01-10-2010, 11:54 AM

Yeah, I've done the same thing; wading right down the middle of the river and spooking all the trout. I rarely get in these days.

The Principal
01-10-2010, 01:01 PM
The first time I fished in the Park was about ten years ago. I had never fished for trout before. I talked a buddy who had done trout fishing before into going with me. We made a flying trip out of it. Drove four hours spent the night fished until dark and went home.
We stopped by Litte River Outfitters [ they were in the old store] and bought flys. we went to Metcalf Bottems to fish. I didn't know about slick mountauin rocks at that time.
I had brought my lug sole duck hunting waders. I caught my first trout that day. One rainbow and a small brown. I also dunked myself three times in those lug sole waders. I also learned that 5mil neoprene wader legs float and it is very hard to get your feet back on the river bottom. It is a little disconcerting for your head to be be higher than your feet in this type situation.

01-10-2010, 01:13 PM
First the earth cooled, and then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil, then I started fishing the smokies:biggrin:

01-10-2010, 01:24 PM
I think it was called Jurassic Park back then.

01-10-2010, 03:06 PM
My first time was this past August. I had fly fished on local lakes, but never on moving water for trout.

The first day was raining and the water was a little high. I went to Metcalf Bottoms for a few hours. I didn't really know what I was doing, I had read a good amount, but didn't have the hands-on experience. I still managed to catch a 3" brown, my first trout.

The next day I fished the Little River from the turn to go to Elkmont up to the big open pool at the bend just a bit below the campground. Caught another 3" brown. Then, up at the pool I caught three more browns, one being about 11", which I was very pleased with. All on a size 14 elk hair caddis. The largest brown was by far the best. I made a near perfect cast into a hole in the rock wall at the bend. About a second later the fish took the caddis and I managed a perfect hook set. I've been addicted since.

Jim Casada
01-10-2010, 06:54 PM
All--I'm not sure I can top Flyman, although methinks some high top waders might be in order, but the first time was so long ago I can't remember. I would attribute it to senility, but I've been this way since puberty (I think it was Ed Zern who said that).
More seriously, I first fished in the Park with a fly rod in 1948 when I was six years old. I didn't catch a trout on a fly until I was nine (1951) although I had caught several in state waters using bait by that time.
There hasn't been a season since when I haven't fish numerous times in the Park, and the thrill, the unending joy, and the ongoing education continue as strong and rewarding as ever. Jim Casada

01-10-2010, 07:23 PM
god created heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested.....i fished

01-11-2010, 01:41 PM
let's see...when I was a little boy (preteen) I went on vacation in TN. I remember that I was using my trusty spinning reel and beetlspin and a guy up the river was using a fly rod. I still remember seeing him roll cast (only now I know it's called a roll cast). I caught a tiny smallmouth and a rock bass. I guess I caught more than that, because he went back to his vehicle for his spinning gear!

But recently, '05 spring break, I had a full week to go get 'em. I fished all day, every day and NO fish. The last day I finally got a normal sized smokie bow at Metcalf in the last minutes of daylight. The next year I hired a guide!

01-11-2010, 08:26 PM
I'm really like Jim on this, I can't remember exactly when the first time was. I grew up fishing the park with my grandfather, father, and uncles. My best guess would be that it was in the early 60's and it would have been somewhere in Cataloochee valley? I remember I had a fly rod with an reel spooled with mono instead of a fly line. We always fished wet flies or nymphs and often tipped them with stick bait or any other natural bait we could find. We kept our catch, and sometimes they were numerous. They were fried fresh that day, the freezing of a trout for consumption later was unheard of. Potatoes and onions were always my favorite side dish.

01-11-2010, 09:43 PM
First time was about 7yr ago. Didn't catch one for a year, I am kind of hard headed and wanted to learn on my own, bad idea, I would have saved a lot of heart aches if I took a class.
I had a cheap Wal-mart special fly rod and reel and the flies that come in a package. I was fishing on little river and was only fishing the head of the runs. Lord knows how many fish I spooked! Well I went to dig out a new fly while I still had my fly in the water. once it reach the tail out a nice little rainbow hit it. My first fish was an accident! As I was headed out this fellow with at the time I thought an old wooden fly rod stopped me and took my fly rod out of my hand. It kind of freaked me out. Then this gentleman told me to out on a new leaded and dug out a couple Elk Hair Caddis and told me use those instead of the cheap flies I had. One of the other gentlemen pulled me aside as they left and told me to listen good because this man was probably fly fisherman in the smokies. I wish I would have gotten his name! Even though I am way away from being a great or even fly fisherman I always try to pay it froward by helping anyone new that will listen to a bum like me.

01-12-2010, 09:13 AM
This is a little out of context....what can I say, I was born in Northern California.

My first time fishing on my own (without the assistance of my dad casting) was when I was 5 years old. We had stopped to fish this small tributary of a fork of the Walker River. The trib was tiny, and after a few minutes my dad came up and asked me if I wanted to move. I told him to leave me alone. He backed off and hid behind some brush, and I ended up catching a 7 or 8 inch wild trout a few minutes later. I was hooked.

It took a few more years before I got my first tast of fly fishing. It was on a trip from CA to Idaho to visit my grandfather. My dad had an old bamboo rod that he had for a while, and I talked him into letting me use it. We had stopped at a spot in Nevada to overnight on our way. There was a small stream just outside the campground. I got up before anyone, because I new that we would be leaving first thing. I had on an adams fly. I was just starting to pull my fly line off of the water on my first cast when a 7 inch brown (wasn't sure it was a brown until later) took my fly. Needless to say the fish sailed past my head and landed in the creek behind me and promptly came off. This happened to me about 5 or 6 times before I landed my first one. They were all small browns, and I caught about 5 or 6 after I stopped flinging them past my head and back in the creek.

Rog 1
01-12-2010, 09:56 AM
This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of my start of fishing for trout in the Park...I was 13 and on a picnic with my mom and grandparents up Greenbrier. After lunch my grandfather and cousin began rigging up their flyrods and I begged to go along...I wasn't even aware what a flyrod was and was given a spinning rod with a ginger quill just to placate me. Off I went not knowing why I couldn't cast my fly like my cousin but I persisted flicking that **** fly until I up a shady side slip, managed to flick that quill just above a small plunge pool and snached up a 7" bow that was the only keeper anyone caught that day....got my first flyrod later that year and have been chasing the wiley trout ever since....later on discovered I was on Porter's Creek and still have a black and white photo of that first mountain trout. An interesting addition to all of this is that my son who is now a 4th generation trout fisherman in the Park is named Porter.

01-12-2010, 11:51 AM
Rog 1,

That's awesome right there! Love stories like that

01-12-2010, 07:58 PM
Spring 1964-Shenandoah.My father had died the prev September and my brother and I bought each other fly outfits for Christmas.Got out of school in May and inJUne we took off for Shenandoah Nat.Park-the Smokies!DEidn't catch anything but had a GREAT TIME!.Firstr time in GSMNP was 1983.Fall of 82 I went to sit for my towboat liscence and the wife and I were trying to figure the expense of 2 weeks in New Orleans.Got off the towboat and she picked me up driving an F100 P.U. w/slide in camper.Next Spring we were at Smokemont!God I LOve That Woman!

Hatchie Dawg
01-14-2010, 08:59 PM
The first time for me was as a boy years ago. I am 42 now. I didn't catch anything then, but ever since, the clear water, the rocks, the moss, the evergreens, and the mountains have become an almost mystical place for me and the trout still somewhat of a mythical creature. I've caught some wild trout now. I know they exist, but I have not caught enough of them to where everyone is not special in a way I can't really explain. The place and the fish captured me.

I can say this, that somewhere out in the Smokies I feel a fish is there for me. He is thick about the shoulders, long, and has a bit of hook to his jaw. With the minds eye, I see him waiting there in the mountains along with the tarpon, the bone fish, the bull elk, and the bull canvasback all in their special places where we will cross paths someday if I'm lucky. Thinking of them while I'm wading behind my desk is one of the things that keeps me sane, and I'm glad they are all with me.

01-15-2010, 08:50 PM
First time ever in the Smokies for me was a camping trip my grandfather took me on to Smokemont back in 1976. I was a junior in HS at the time. Fished Bradley Fork, and also the Oconaluftee. I walked up the dirt road at the end of the campground to get to Bradley. Never adventured too far. Would go up the first hill, then down into that curve, and get in the river around that spot. And then would fish it up to where the dirt road came in real close to the river again. My best memory of the trip was fishing in the pool where Bradley Fork empties into the Luftee. There were always fish rising there. And it was fun to hook a fish while cars rode by right above me while fighting a rainbow.

01-15-2010, 11:11 PM
Approximately 25 years ago I ventured into the river between the entrance to Elkmont and the campground. I carried an ultralight rig and a few single hook Rooster tails of varied colors. Early in the morning I caught sight of a fish swimming upstream toward a small water fall. I quickly cast that Rooster tail into the water fall and nervously watched the trout head for the lure. After landing a nice sized 'bow [probably >10 inches] I said aloud to myself [no one else was in earshot] "I am going to learn to fly-fish to do this right."

Later that year I took lessons, bought a fly rod, and returned to the GSMNP to take up this wonderful activity. Took a few trips and some wonderful guides and helpful strangers along the way but I learned to 'catch' as well as cast. I have returned many times, but never enough, to this special place. Getting older now and wade more carefully but my beautiful grand-daughters are being introduced to this special place as each gets old enough to walk along with me.

Can't wait till spring! By the way I haven't used the ultralight since.


01-17-2010, 05:05 PM
My first time in the Smokies was about 12 years ago. A member of our TU chapter recommended the Middle Prong (Tremont) and fish with anything yellow. I did the first and not the second, but did manage to have what what was later described as an outstanding day. I fished with an Elk Hair Caddis, Size 14 all day. I managed 5 'bows, 4 browns, and two brookies. I wish I lived closer to the park so I could fish it more. I'm retired now and hopefully gas prices will permit at least a monthly trip.

01-20-2010, 06:20 PM
My first time ever fly fishing was in the Smokies on Little River last August I didn't catch anything that day but I have been hooked every since I have got to the point where I can go and at least hook a few fish when the fishing is good. I love being in those mountains backpacking in the backcountry is my favorite thing to do.

01-20-2010, 09:01 PM
Having been stationed at Bragg for a couple of years, My wife and I loved the GSMNP. In the spring of 2007, my doctor put on a fly fishing class at a small park here in Ohio and asked me to come. I had an old fiberglass Kasner rod that I used as a kid to fish for bluegill and bass in farm ponds. I was amazed at the cool new fly rods and gear, and soon bought a wind river 9' 5wt from cabellas. On our next trip to Gatlinburg, I stopped at the Smoky Mountain Angler (I didn't know about LRO) and they fixed me up with an elk hair caddis and a copper john dropper. After a couple of unsuccessful outtings(it was a low water year, the hatches were sparse, the sun was in my eye, etc., etc.) I was fishing just above the bridge at ramsey trailhead when I thought that my dropper got stuck under a rock again, I pulled it up and found a small wiggling rainbow had eaten my copper john. I thought "oh ,that's how you do it" and a short time later caught one more. Since then I've made several more trips down and have become hopelessly
addicted to fly fishing in the park.

02-04-2010, 12:15 PM
It is easy for me to remember the 1st time I fished in the park...I was a couple of years out of college and decided to head to the park for the 1st time in about 4 years. Like many, I had watched that Brad Pitt/Tom Skeritt movie and figured "what the heck, I'll give it a try. Looks easy enough!" So before I hit the road, I picked up a starter rod/reel combo from Galyans in Indy, got some flies and a vest, and figured I was good to go.

I stepped out into the water at Metcalf Bottoms, and immediately got tangled, caught in trees, and must have looked like a complete idiot:smile:. After about an hour of this, I decided that I'd had enough and went back to the hotel. Put the fly rod away and didn't even look at it again until I moved to ATL in 06.

Little did I realize at the time that I was using a 6 wt rod, and had flies that would have been best suited for bass or some other fish, not trout. I decided to get back into trout fishing after moving south and finding out that GA had trout streams/rivers, albeit with an ultra light spinning combo. Came back to the park and caught my first trout ever on a spinner, and have been hooked ever since. The diference now is that I have done my research and have the correct fly fishing equipment for an outing to NGA or the park, and haven't touched my spinning gear for over 2 years now.

Looking forward to heading back to the park in March...


02-04-2010, 12:42 PM
I had the pleaseure of fishing with Walter Babb, what a treat!! I learned so much from him about fishing in the park, what to look for, where to go, how to correctly fish the flies, etc., and heard such great tales about the area. The fishing was great too. Even though I caught some really nice fish, it was his teachings that have made me a better angler, not only in the GSNP, but all over. Thanks Walter!

02-04-2010, 01:24 PM
My first time was February 1st last year on the little river between Townsend and the Wye. I didn't catch anything of course. After that I spent some days fishing the little river in Townsend, up in the park, up tremont, and several other spots (felt like I had fished everywhere in the smokies and there was no trout) before finally catching my first smokies trout in April on a backpacking trip over to Hazel Creek. It was a 6" brown trout right above the sugar fork campsite. Followed that up quickly with another one. I was hooked after that for sure and didn't feel as bad about striking out all those times in order to get my first on Hazel Creek..

02-04-2010, 01:32 PM
I have been taking a spring and fall fishing trips to different parts of the country for a good time now.
In 2005 one of my employees was visiting his inlaws in NC and saw the streams and purchased The Fly Fisherman's Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park by H. Lea Lawrence.

Well after reading that book I began my research into fishing the Smokies. I purchased both of Kirk's books. The I discovered Ian Rutter's books and DVD's. That was it, I was heading to the Smokies.

My fishing buddy and I first came to the GSMNP in 2007 and I have been back ever since.

Day before yesterday we were on the phone talking about the trip, maybe checking out the RV campsites over in Townsend this year. The previous 3 years I have stayed at Camping in the Smokies Campground. I've never had a problem there and the people were outstanding, but this year looking to shake it up a little and try some place different.

So if anyone has any suggests for a campground with full hook up ( water, elect, sewer for an 18 ft travel trailer) in the Townsend area I would be grateful.

I have been out with Ian Rutter and his wife Charity 4 times, and I highly recomment them as a guide service.

Last year we spent two full weeks fishing the GSMNP, this year we arrive on May 16th and depart 22nd. So much going on this year it has to be a short one.

Speck Lover
02-04-2010, 01:40 PM
My first fly fishing trip in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was in May of 1995 on Hazel Creek. I was invited by a friend to a group outing that was using the Proctor Backcountry Campsite as a base camp. I had been accustomed to fly fishing streams in northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia and thought that I would have an upper hand on Hazel Creek. Wrong! I became humble pretty quickly. The group that I was fishing with consisted of some veteran anglers of the Smokies, so I decided that my observation of their skills would be in my best interest, and man was I right. The first things that I noticed from them were stealth, presentation, and if you don't absolutely have to be in the stream, stay out of it! So, with that knowledge in hand, I gave it another shot by myself the following day and began having some success. Some of those old guys that I watched and learned from on that trip are gone now, but the memory of them and this trip is forever etched in my mind.

Ky Tim
02-05-2010, 11:57 AM
I had been fly fishing for a couple of years before my first GSMNP fly fishing trip. I was in the area in April of 1999 to interview for a job with the Mountain Press newspaper in Seveierville. I managed to fish Abrams Creek in Cades Cove and was hooked. Been back 3 or 4 times a year ever since.