View Full Version : the size of trout

07-06-2010, 10:32 AM
I know this goes against some folks fly fishing philosiphy,but I fish for large trout.The bigger the better.The Smoky's streams are loaded with 4 inchers,catching those things is kind of like taking your mother-in-law on a date,there's not much of a charge in it BUT I don't care for those stocked "city" trout,some of the larger trout I have caught out of the "trophy run" around Cherokee look almost deformed,and they seem lazy and are pretty dum,as dum fish go.wonder what the biggest wild trout caught out of the park..

Jim Casada
07-06-2010, 10:58 AM
Lauxier--I'm pretty much in tune with your philosophy, both on stockers and on going after trophy-sized wild fish. I don't just focus on big fish, but I sure am charged by catching a trophy wild trout in the Park. I would note that "trophy" varies according to the stream. In Deep Creek a 12-incher certainly isn't a trophy, but in one of its larger feeders, Indian Creek, it would be a giant.
As for the biggest fish from Park waters, I doubt if there are any records. However, I personally saw a 26-inch brown years ago, and I've heard of a couple out of Hazel Creek in the 8 to 9 pound range and one from Deep Creek that was 29 inches. As for rainbows, I believe that Jim Gasque mentions huge fish coing out of Cataloochee in his book from 1949 (reprinted a couple of years back). I used to see rainbows in the 20-inch range fairly regularly (1960s and 1970s), but as browns made ever greater inroads the really big 'bows vanished, or at least they did from my radar screen. Finally, a preacher caught a speckled trout in the Tuckasegee (not the Park, but close by) somewhere early in the 20th century which was 26 inches long. That's more than twice the length of the biggest speck I've ever seen come from Park waters (12 1/2 inches).
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Rog 1
07-06-2010, 11:28 AM
Biggest rainbow I have caught in the park was 16"....back in the 70s I saw some huge bows up on Fish Camp Prong and hooked one that would have gone 20"....those fish have seemed to disappear over time...they were in some of the big plunge pools close to the trail...me thinks that local bait chunkers are to blame...this theory was also backed up by some of the terminal tackle found hanging from the rhodo

07-06-2010, 11:40 AM
I'm sure someone on here can help with the details but I was told a couple of years ago as I was fishing below Elkmont that a huge Brown was caught there several years back. I asked later about the story and it was confirmed twice by others to be a true story but I don't trust my memory to state details as fact. Does anyone know anything more about that?

07-06-2010, 01:42 PM
Byron! Post some of Jack's fish please. I know you got them on file. I think we need a fish p--n fix.

07-06-2010, 01:45 PM
nah, never mind how bout everyone post thier biggest fish pictures!

David Knapp
07-06-2010, 02:07 PM
Kris, how about that PIG you caught a few years back on LR...? I would like to see that fish again...

Carolina Boy
07-06-2010, 02:29 PM
Luftee brown 21 inch male the fall before the first of the few drought years, would have to look back in my journal to see the year? One week later a 18 inch brown same general area. The first one had a hinge jaw that was impressive. there monsters in there. If you don't find joy in the smaller park fish, you ain't gonna find the bigger park fish! only takes one fish to have a story forever, the work for me is the fun, and I can assure you I remember ever bit of my encounter with that male

07-06-2010, 03:09 PM
There are some really big fish in the mountains, I have seen fish in Bald River, Little River, Luftee, and Abrams which were as big as anyone would ever wish to catch. My personal best is 21" out of tremont, I have also caught several other fish around 18" over the years, some of which came from really small streams. The largest I ever hooked was just below Elkmont, and it was freaking huge, when it came shooting past me on its way downstream it appeared to be 24-28 inches.

07-06-2010, 07:06 PM
You guys put me to shame! Biggest I have landed in freestone streams are browns in the 15-16" range. Lucked into a nice October caddis hatch in '03 and some of the bigger browns let their guard down for awhile. Also, have caught some nice browns when isonychia nymphs were active and during heavy QG hatches.

07-06-2010, 10:26 PM
David here you go. This is the best fish I've ever caught. Not the biggest but the best, because of where it came from. Metcalf bottoms a few years back not sure how big, didn't tape it.


Here is the story.

I managed to get away for a day fishing with Tim Doyle. Tim is a good friend and local guide. He runs Smoky Mountain Flywerks guide service. We started out the day throwing big terestrials to over hangs and under cuts. This is one of Tims specialties and I learned a lot of great tips. My first fish was a 13 inch brown trout. This was my largest fish to date in the GSMNP. We continued fishing and ended up in a very well known place that holds some large browns.

After Tim caught a couple I started fish some likely spots. I had absolutely no looks and started working my way up stream. I was looking upstream and a flash of white caught my eye. I froze to get a better look. What I saw astounded me as the largest brown I have ever seen appeared before my eyes. He was lodged in a large slot on the stream bottom. I yelled at Tim, is that a fish. Your right thats a fish he replied. Tim immeadeately knew what was on the menu.

While I stayed frozen, he placed two flies on a stick and threw it out to me. Hands trembling I tied on the two flies. On top was a small girdle bug and on bottom was a size sixteen bead head pheasant tail nymph. After four drifts the brown looked as though he had eaten and I set the hook, but nothing was there. At this point I was completly frazzled, hands trembling and my heart was ready to jump out of my chest. I took a couple seconds to recoupe. Three drifts later he ate and the party was on. He came to the surface and shook his in fustration. After a couple of good runs I managed to beach him in a small back eddy. This was my second fish and now largest fish to date in GSMNP.

Who's next?

07-06-2010, 10:36 PM
I'd still like to see some pics from Jack, Ray, Hugh and others. Those boys can fish. There are definately some young guns rolling around out there too. David your one, Ross, where you at? Caleb? There are many others. I was told when I first moved Here that if you can fish the park good then you could catch fish anywhere and I really believe that. I've had the opportunity meet and fish with some of the darn right fishiest guys around and I say thank you to them all.

07-06-2010, 11:06 PM
I work part time at Smoky Mtn Angler in Gatlinburg, and there is a fiberglass model of a brown on the wall along with a pic of the real fish. It is around 24 inches long, but it must me 20 inches around and is rumored to have come from high in Tremont many years ago. Kris, was that you at Orvis today when I bought a harness for my mut?

07-06-2010, 11:32 PM
The park fisheries biologists have a few pics of some pretty impressive trout from various streams throughout the park. Several were >30" if I remember correctly.

07-07-2010, 08:46 AM
To slightly diverge on this topic, what tactics/flies have you found most productive on big browns? The one and only genuine 18+ inch brown I took from the park rose to an elk hair caddis in the pouring rain. Seemed like a fluke at the time but I have since caught some nice fish on the surface during a downpour.

My guess is that most of you trophy trout hunters are fishing subsurface rigs. I am not much for nymph fishing but maybe that's why I catch very few truly large trout. A guide on the West Branch of the Delaware up in the Catskills told me once to fish wooley buggers toward the shore during a high water event. I said I'm not big on wolley buggers. He said, "so you ain't big on big fish either, are ya skippy". ;-)

07-07-2010, 08:50 AM
I bet those guys, know where all the big boys hang out. I also have a picture of a guy that caught a 29 or 31 inch Brown (can't remember) up Hazel. A customer had emailed it to me when I first moved here, but I don't know the guys name, so I don't want to post it. But man it is wicked.

I used to really obsess over big fish, but it seems like the last couple years I've been content to just get out, catch some fish, see others catch fish and enjoy the outdoors.

I think there is a natural progression of a sportsman is: First Stage - catching a bunch of fish Second Stage - Head Hunting for big fish Third Stage - It's all about the experience and whom you spend it with.

I think I linger between the last two stages, I did go out last Friday and night fished the Clinch, didn't get anything, but almost caught someone breaking into my truck.

Let's see some more pictures now, who has Steve's number?

07-07-2010, 08:56 AM
I think there is a natural progression of a sportsman is: First Stage - catching a bunch of fish Second Stage - Head Hunting for big fish Third Stage - It's all about the experience and whom you spend it with...

Good point. I have gone through the same general progression as a bowhunter - any deer, to many deer, to big deer, to just enjoying God's creation and counting it a bonus if I take a buck. Kind of wish I had gotten here quicker.

07-07-2010, 09:01 AM

The biggest fish I've caught was in Jan during a hugh down pour, rising water, chucking my favorite fly a Cone Head Zuddler. I like fishing nasty weather, keeps the fair weather guys at home and seems like that has been when I've caught some of my bigger fish. Although my park brown was in the middle of the day and it was sunny, but I had luck on my side that day.

Google search Kelly Gallop and check out some of his big ole flies. You can get way more crazy than just a wooly bugger. Some of the boys up in the Tri-Cities are throwing some crazy stuff to.

That's not to say you can't catch big fish on regular flies, but I think that is some what the exception and not the rule.

Steve and Matt have said that once a Brown trout reaches 13 inches they become more carnivorous, however that doesn't mean they only eat meat and I'm sure they take advantage of any easy food source that presents its self. That's how they get big.

Rain storm, dry fly, possibly crippled, fly can't get off the water = easy meal (who know really why fish do certain things)

I always get asked if it's a good day to go out and I always reply with of course any day fishing is better than working. Even if you don't catch anything it's good to get out.

07-07-2010, 09:40 AM
Hey Kris,

I made it to the Slide Inn out West a few years back. Cool place. Kelly's got some awesome patterns. I have never considered using most of them around here. I have gotten crazy a couple of times and tied on a chernobyl ant. It just doesn't seen right on these mountain streams. Biggest fish I caught while out west though was on somethign like a big ant in the box canyon of Henry's Fork. Whole different world out there.


07-07-2010, 10:23 AM
I used to have the luxury of fishing Upper East TN and the Park a lot and the Tellico area even more back in the late 80s and 90s. I managed to catch a 20" brown on Abrams in May of 95. It was one of the last nice browns I can remember coming out of there before they disappeared. I caught numerous browns between 15 and 22" inches on the Bald, North and Tellico. I would wait for a good summer downpour and fish the muddy water as it was falling. A big flashy, heavy streamer with lots of yellow always seemed to turn a couple of big fish. I lost a brown in the upper Bald during that time period that was a real brute. He rolled twice on the surface before making a run into a tree top and broke me off. He had to be at least 26" and in the 6-8lb range. I had a secret stream even further south that produced browns in the 18-22" range pretty regularly as well. I never managed to land one bigger than 20" in Upper East TN, but saw tons of browns in the 20-26" range in Beaverdam, Laurel, Stony, Doe and N Indian.

My biggest wild rainbow was just over 16”. I caught it back in September of 92 on Abrams just above the Little Bottoms area. I was going through my ultralight stage at that time and caught him using a size 16 Thunderhead on a 6 and ½’ Loomis 2 Weight and 6X tippet. I saw a legitimate 20” wild rainbow on Doe Creek near Butler in the late 90s that rose to my Adams Parachute and tried to sip it in. I got nervous and set the hook too fast and missed him. That put him down and he would not take again. That stream has produced many 12-15” rainbows for me though. It has not been the same in recent years unfortunately.

I also got the chance to do a lot of shocking in just about every wild trout stream in TN during the 90s as well. People just don't realize how many nice browns there are in these mountain streams. Some streams that you can almost jump across hold browns in the 20" class. Catching them on a fly is another matter. While I managed to get lucky on a couple of nice fish on clear water days using standard dries of nymphs (hardly anyone used dropper rigs back then), most of my good fish came on streamers when the water was high or off color.

I think I must have reached stage 3 as Maurer so aptly put it. I am just happy to get on the stream at all these days. I get much more enjoyment from seeing my nine year old son catch fish, or just spending time on the water with friends.

07-07-2010, 03:58 PM
I think there is a natural progression of a sportsman is: First Stage - catching a bunch of fish Second Stage - Head Hunting for big fish Third Stage - It's all about the experience and whom you spend it with.

Funny that you brought this up. I have been thinking about it a little lately. I somehow skipped the "head hunting" stage. I guess I just like to catch fish and have not had the urge to go after them big uns. I seem to be stuck in between the first and third stages. But, I don't really have any problem with it.

That said, I do keep a little journal that has the address of some big boys that I've run into.:cool:

07-07-2010, 06:06 PM
Me too, I skipped number two and went straight to three.

07-07-2010, 10:19 PM
I love to fly fish with my sister. She has only been a few times and has never caught a trout. Earlier this year she ran a single hairs ear nymph through the lip of a big deep pool with a large rock at the bottom. Just as the nymph floated by the rock, a nice brown (pretty sure it was a brown) that was at least 13-14" (I think it was probably bigger, but can't prove it) shot out and took the nymph. For about 10 seconds she had the largest trout I had ever seen personally, in the Smokies, on her line. What a thrill for her and me. She's my favorite fishing partner. Doesn't have a ton of stamina though. :biggrin:

07-08-2010, 10:38 PM
I stayed and fished at Kelly's Slide Inn last week. Not only are the streamers they use very different (& BIGGER), but so is their technique: "swimming" the articulated streamers thru every eddy and around every rock, instead of the old "down and across retrieve" I had always done before.
Don't know how well it would work in the Smokies, but I plan to give it a try my next trip.

07-08-2010, 11:25 PM
Fishdoc -- I have bought and tied several of Kelly's patterns. Have watched his videos on trophy trout hunting. Have talked with him on the phone. Impressed with all his patterns I have tried -- they work on East TN tailwaters. Not so easy to tie, but great patterns and if you fish them as he recommends, they do work locally especially the sculpin patterns. Haven't had much success on his attractor patterns, but don't fish them as much as the sculpin patterns.

07-09-2010, 09:43 AM
Fishdoc -- I have bought and tied several of Kelly's patterns. Have watched his videos on trophy trout hunting. Have talked with him on the phone. Impressed with all his patterns I have tried -- they work on East TN tailwaters. Not so easy to tie, but great patterns and if you fish them as he recommends, they do work locally especially the sculpin patterns. Haven't had much success on his attractor patterns, but don't fish them as much as the sculpin patterns.
A few years back, Georgia started a stocking program for shoal bass in the Chatahoochee north of Atlanta, and good size bass are now showing up regularly. I brought back a handful of Kelly's patterns to see how they will work - if you've never fished for these guys, a shoal bass strike is like an M-80 going off at the end of your line. :eek: