View Full Version : Smoky Mountain Etiquette

02-03-2006, 11:02 AM
After Keep or Release, after barb or no barb - now comes the really hard question.

What is the proper protocol when you encounter another fisherman (or 2) in the water??? *

Should you talk to him/her to get the necessary info re what to do?

Does it make a difference if the water is roadside vs. backcountry?

Does it make a difference if you saw him/her just put in above you?

If you see him/her where you were planning on putting in, how much water do you give him/her before you put in?

Does it make any difference if the other fisherman is a guide with a client?

Does it make any difference if you think you could take'em in a fair fight?

02-03-2006, 11:44 AM
Good questions.

Typically, an angler working upstream has the right of way over an angler working downstream and the downstream angler should yield within 50 yards or so and move to the downstream side of the upstream working angler.

Assuming that everyone is working upstream.

Question one: When you see people ahead of you fishing, you should leave the water to work upstream of them. It is acceptable to talk as you pass. How you doing? Doing any good? Wonderful day isn't it? Small talk is good and here in our neck of the woods most folks are friendly enough that they'll quit fishing to chat with you for a few. Continue to head upstream leaving the other anglers at least 100 yds of untouch water if possible.

Question two. No. Water is water and folks who are fishing the water will feel infringed apon whether it's along the road or ten miles from nowhere.

Question three. If the angler saw you fishing upstream and puts in just upstream of you without leaving you any fresh water.....well that's rude. You can be the better man and leap above them....while leaving them 100 yds of fresh water. Refrain from making rude comments as you go by....if anything mention to him that your going on upstream but will leave plenty of fresh water for them to fish.

Question four. If they beat you to the water you planned on fishing. Go with plan two. LEaving them plenty of fresh water if you head upstream of them, or just start well downstream of them.

Question 5. Yes and no. The guide is there trying to make a living. The client could be a green beginner or a seasoned vet. Special considerations should be given to them, however....if you follow the answers to the above questions you should be looked apon as a very gentlemenly angler. On a side note....the guide/clients should display great etiquette as people who fish with guides learn a lot about how to act while in the presence of a guide. Feel free to speak as you go by and wish each other well.

Question 6. I'll answer your question with one of my own. In the words of the great Roy D. Mercer......"Well how big a boy are you"? ;) No actually, no matter how rude someone else is.....there's never a situation that should end up with blows. Some folks just don't know any better, in which case maybe they'll learn by the example you set by always being a gentlemen displaying courteous behavior while on the stream.

Hope this helps.

David Knapp
02-03-2006, 12:03 PM
Great words of advice so far. Personally, I try to find out how much water the fisherman might be planning on fishing and then go a little further if it is realistic. When fishing smaller streams such as upper Little River, I can easily fish a mile of water in a few hours. Based on that, if it is not too crowded, I'll usually try to give anyone else a good half a mile minimum if possible. On larger streams I don't feel that I need to give that much room. If in doubt and it is not a bad time (i.e. the other fisherman is casting to rising fish in a still pool), go ahead and talk to them. Being friendly on the stream will help avoid any conflicts and make everyone's day a little better. On the rare times that someone has been rude enough to put in right above me, I usually cut them some slack. More often than not, they look like this is their first time out and don't know what they are doing. They probably have not heard of "etiquette" so I try to just be nice and go around them and upstream (or down) out of sight. Sometimes they haven't even seen me and then apologize when they do.


02-03-2006, 12:22 PM
I think I can answer some of your questions on proper stream etiquette. I will pass along some advice that my good freind known as cleanair on this message board gave me. When fishing a stream and suddenly you find that free space is getting limited do the following.

1. Take your hat off and really mess up your hair.
2. Start drooling out of the corner of your mouth.
3. make loud deep moaning sounds about every 45 sec.
4. Wet your pants( Note: this does not work very well if you are wearing waders)
5. Spray yourself down with Buck-n-rut scent.

If you do these 5 things you will find that you will have plenty of free space to fish at all times and you will never have to worry about question 6.
Hope This Helps
P.S. Rockyraccoon really has the best advice.

02-03-2006, 12:32 PM
Great topic and great advice guys...

It amazes me sometimes just how rude some people are. It doesn't matter whether you are on the river or on the road.

A golden rule that I always try to go by, if what I am about to do may be in question, is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That was my mothers wise words.

My Dad, well he instilled in me... "If you are going to do it me, I am going to do it to you!" Which usually meant a war of words between my parents, usually something about undermining. ;)

In all seriousness... The best thing to do is to think of how you like to fish and treat that person in the same manner.

Petey 8-)

02-03-2006, 01:11 PM
OK - on the 100 yard approach - how long does it take a run of GSMNP pocket water to "recover"? *15 minutes?, 1 hour?, 2 hours? *In other words, if a fisherman sees me, waives hello, then puts in 100 yards upstream, will the trout still be "spooked" when I get to where he put in?

Rog 1
02-03-2006, 03:11 PM
Cannot give a firm answer on how long it takes for the water to recover but I do know that I can tell when someone has cut in front of me....it's like someone has turned off the tap....that is when I start looking for some signs. I have also found that if it is a solitary fisherman, a lot of times only one side of the river has been fished and will generally go to the most difficult side to see if the luck changes. Also, in the same mode, I will go to fishing all the smaller pockets ..... watched my grandfather come up behing me many times and pull trout out of water that I hadn't given a second look at when I came through.

02-03-2006, 03:45 PM
I'm thinking it takes at least 1 hour for the run to recover. *It generally takes me (when I'm fishing with a buddy) no more than 30 minutes to cover 100 yards. *That's why if someone just gives me 100 yards - I'll fish the 100 - then get out and walk at least 1/3 mile to get into some fresh water. *Like you, I have found that rocks wet with boot prints and catching don't go together.

I haven't fished much outside the Park. *I understand etiquette is different on tail water. *But inside the Park, we ought to be able to give each other at least a 15 minute trail walk (about 1/3 mile) before putting in above a fellow angler. *This is on backcountry waters. *Through a campground, or along a road, *expectations may be different, and 100 yards may just have to do.

02-03-2006, 06:56 PM
There is a spot on Hazel between Sugar Fork and Bone Valley known as the Gorge. A lot like
Abrams Loop, in that once in, either fish it all or retrace your steps. We always ask others in the campsite if anyone is planning to fish it, because if you follow another thru the Gorge, pickings are slim. I fished it hard all day, only to grouse to my fellows, when reaching Bone, how bad it was. Someone said, "No wonder. Someone else came out about twenty minutes before you did."
Do not know how long it should take to rest, but I'd give it an hour on Hazel. HW3

David Knapp
02-04-2006, 10:12 PM
I definately agree with littlerivermike about the footprints. Anytime I'm fishing and see fresh footprints, the fishing USUALLY shuts down. However, I think this is something that depends a lot on the fisherman. Sometimes I'll fish a stretch of water and then go back to hit a particularly good run again and I'll catch fish again. If you stay out of the water as much as possible and are really sneaky, I don't think that you will put the fish down as much.


Clean Air
02-05-2006, 02:19 PM
Great Questions! I see my friend Riverrat has remembered all the good advice I've given him on this subject...and I must say that I've never heard him complain about freespace since, I know I've given plenty of room and suspect you will too!

Remember - A bad day fishin' is better ....blah, blah, blah

Just enjoy it! 8-)

The Preacher
02-07-2006, 10:43 AM
I usually fish where or when I don't see many other fisherman. If I do encounter someone, I "leapfrog" around them and leave them some water to fish, and when they finish that water I have left, I expect them to "leapfrog" around me and leave me some water. When I have fished that water, I will go around them again.

02-07-2006, 08:53 PM
My wife my son and I had a really bad experience last October .
We decided to fish Tremont and the wife and son started just above the foot bridge.
I went ahead a few hundred yards after fishing a couple of pools I came upon a lady sitting on a rock reading.
Just upstream there were a father and son both dressed in jeans and tennis shoes, the father with a fly outfit looking very confused.
* * I worked back downstream and up the rather steep bank :P
When the wife and son rejoined me we climbed another half mile or more.
* * Ten minutes later I noticed my wife on the trail looking very disgusted.
Just around the next boulder there were the same trio.
My wife had seen them pass and jump in just yards above me.
* * *Once again we hiked anotherhalf to three quarters of a mile.
This time Brenda decided to watch us from the trail.
I should have known why.
* Within twenty minutes the three passed , spotted a nice deep hole within yards of us and started to drop off the trail when Brenda stopped them and as politetly as she is capable of began to explain that we had three times been forced to yeild the stream to them.
* *It seems that the mans wife didnt like having her husband share the stream with anyone.
My wife however is not a patient woman and before my son and I could rescue the three of them from her ,they were moving back down the trail at quite an impressive pace looking back over their shoulders worriedly.
The sound of Brendas voice still echoing in the valleys,and their ears.
* *The moral to this story is with this woman three strikes and you are out.http://us.f13.yahoofs.com/bc/43b18db0_b69/bc/Dad/mom1.jpg?BCUQU6DBSuLIqVIm
* *

02-07-2006, 10:04 PM
Good story troutbum. *I bet we all have had similar experiences; particularly in the Tremont area of the Little River. *In large part we are the choir, (no offense preacher). *So, just among us girls:

If I'm putting in within 1/3 to 1/2 mile of someone already in - stop & talk a minute - (he may be ready to get out) let him know where I'm thinking about fishing. *100 to 200 yards just isn't enough water if he's going to keep fishing.

If someone jump me too close - I should let it go & give him enough water. *If he jumps me twice - I need to have a heart to heart with him about Smoky Mountain Etiquette and refer him to this message board.

02-07-2006, 11:00 PM
Great discussion, folks! I especially like littlerivermike's approach.

I guess I've encountered etiquette "problems" most frequently on Little River and Tremont.

On "streams-that-shall-not-be-named," and that includes many that are more than, say, 400 yards from where someone could park a car, I can't recall any real issues.

Of course, if a potential interloper starts to head your way, you could always use the "Hey, didja see that mess'a copperheads?" line ::)

Best wishes to all.

02-09-2006, 02:24 PM
This is a great topic for discussion. *So far it sounds as if all who have posts on this topic are what I would consider to be knowledgeable and courteous anglers who know how to share the waters we love and appreciate.

My wish is to have all the the rock-chucking,intoxicated2toothedwithabrandnewspincaste randrapallachucking,
hurrydownthereboybeforehegetstherehunterlookingred neckfromInbredholler,
gofindsomeotherplacetogotrash individuals read this and hope some of it will sink in. *Do I sound a little aggrivated about this issue? *Yep, I sure do. *Too many times I have had the 'rudest of the rude' people intrude my space. *Well what I,and most of you apparently, consider to be my space. *But the fact of the matter is it is not my space. *It belongs to God and he just lets us use it. It is obvious to me that some of us treat it better than others.*

I am thankful for the times I can have a peaceful outing and hopefully in the future the only people I will run into is you guys who have a clue.

But to answer the origional question, I agree with Petey. *Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. *So if any of you have some greyhaired guy come up to you and hand you a fly he says he's lucky enough to find to work and then he leaves you the heck alone, repay him the favor if you come across him one day and see him so frustrated he's about to dive in and try to catch one by hand.

02-12-2006, 11:59 PM
I have never had much trouble with other fishermen, my problem is with non-fishermen who stop and pester you with questions or worse for interminable minutes. You would think that in a park of 500,000 acres you could find somewhere where you could get some peace. I don't go real deep into the woods, but I don't stand out on the road with a parking sign easier.

Last Spring was typical. I was fishing downstream from Tremont when these two people stopped, walked down to the edge of the water and started splashing about laughing, after about 10 minutes they left. The next day I was fishing on the LR when a Suburban pulled up disgorged 5 people who proceeded to stand above me peppering me with questions for at least 10 minutes. However the worse was Fall of 04. I was fishing my way back to Townsend and had stopped by a little waterfall on the LR. I was seeing a little action and was chasing what appeared to be a nice looking 'Bow' when a car stopped, unloaded a family who climbed down the rocks, stood behind me and threw stones in the water downstream. I am sure you all know how hard it is to cast with people standing close behind you. The worst of it was before leaving the mother actually threw one of the kids in the water about 6 feet behind me. So much for my last cast of the day. I just waited until they left and got out of the water and went back to the hotel.

I realize the Park belongs to everyone. Years ago my late wife and I used to hike(we made it every falls on the TN side) and would often pass people fishing. We would wave and then move on assuming they were doing their thing and didn't need our help to enjoy themselves. Don't get the wrong idea I don't mind being friendly and chatting for a bit, but 10-15 minutes of talk or dodging flying kids is a bit extreme it seems to me.

02-17-2006, 11:13 AM
One summer we were fishing a hole on LR and three car loads of people from Atlanta jumped out and stood beside us and began throwing rocks at our dries. At first I figured pure ignorance and began to explain what was happening with the fish when they tossed in rocks and as we were there first there was plenty of water around to throw rocks at. It wasn't children, they were adults! There kids, after hearing me explain had stopped throwing rocks and tried to move down stream. Thier parents encouraged them to stay and throw rocks where we were fishing! They may have been drinking or some such but I couldn't be sure. We stayed where we were and they soon tired of the rock throwing and as they left one of the adults in the party hung back away from the others and apologized for the behavour of the others. Made me feel a little better, but for about a half an hour I was in condition red. I was not afraid of being beat up or anything like that. I could have stopped them all if I had too.
Ahhh "thats all I can say about that".

02-20-2006, 09:12 PM
Recovery times for Smoky Mountain trout vary from a few minutes to several hours. *Last summer, I was catching plenty of fish then suddenly everything shut down. *I looked at my fishin partner, he looked at me. *We later found that at that spot roughly 2 hours earlier 2 fishermen had bushwacked their way in front of us. *The fishing never recovered. *On the flip-side, I was fishing around the wye and was approached by a swimmer with mask and snorkel telling me there were several trout where he'd been fishing. *To humor him, I cast into the exact spot he had been flopping around in just a few minutes earlier. *In 12 casts, I caught 11 trout. *(I was distracted by a nice bikini on one). *

I believe factors related to recover include:
1. Trout familiarity with people. *The more familiar, the faster recovery. *I have fished between tubers and caught fish.
2. Hunger. *The greater the hunger, the shorter the recovery

Predator 8-)

02-23-2006, 11:38 AM
I agree with Pred - it can take 2+ hours for water to recover in the backcountry. *That's why we should give our brothers (& sisters) more than 100 to 200 yards!! *Do we agree that it will take, on average, much less than 2 hours to fish 100 to 200 yards of backcountry water??

02-23-2006, 01:08 PM
I think it depends on the flyfisher. I've fished with people who hit a pocket or run with two casts and then move to the next hole, and I've fished with people that can park on one good looking run for an hour and a half without moving. . .

I usually try to leave someone( that I'm passing) at least 500-1000 yards, which means I'm not going to be fishing for another 20 minutes at the rate I hike. :) LOL