View Full Version : Early Smoky fishing

07-04-2006, 11:36 PM
Are there any old timers aboard? I lived in Gatlinburg in the mid 1940's (high school days) and learned to love fly fishing those many years ago. I wonder if those memories are held by anyone else, or would sharing same be of interest?

Rog 1
07-05-2006, 08:56 AM
I can only go back to 1960 but even then the fishing in the Park was a lot different....stocking programs and closed season....I had a great uncle who built a cabin on the river in Gatlnburg in the 30s and spent many a summer weekend watching my grandfather fish up through there....no special license needed back then.

07-05-2006, 05:38 PM
I began fly fishing SMNP in 1973--I was fresh from Vietnam via a 3 month stop over at Hamilton Air Force Base in Central Calif. where I met Tony,an avid fly fisherman.He showed me how to cast and before long I was hooked.The Smokies housed the best fly fishing close-by so I began coming regularly to the park.Pigeon Forge was just beginning its tourist--trappy,fun and games,kiddy extravaganza take-off.Traffic was modestly bad.Gatlinburg was full of motels,hotels,and shops.It somehow retained a small town feel,that has been lost in the extra man-made glitz found in the post-modern structures popping up thick as jackrabbits on the hills and streets of Gatinburg.It was easy to fall for the charm of Gatlinburg.not to mention the park.I wish the now and then differences were more subtle--Here are a few:
1)I think people were trashier back then,garbage cans overflowed,bears were plentiful,there were not a lot of bear proof trash cans.The park of 2006 is much better cared for.Generally,park-ers are prejidiced if not downright narrow minded about the folks littering the park,
2)Park Fishing is much better managed now,and the fish seem to be larger--the advent of larger numbers of fly fisherman,local and from afar,pressures park authorities strive for better fishing,facilities,etc.Best fishing seemed to be in Abrams--Most awesome fishing was by far in Hazel Creek,because of its location and pure beauty,there was a wildness and danger built into its rarely fished seclusion.
3)I had a Shakespear rig--a cane rod(a cheap one)4wt 7ft--wobbly and heavy matched to reel by the same company--I miss that reel--because when you got a fish on,all **** would break loose.Those reels were loul,loud,loud--that baby would sing a high pitched song that would get on Yoko Ono's nerves.
4)Equipment is better--particularly waders
5)The bad for last--I do not think the park and for that matter the area in general can handle the visitor increase coming.As I understand it,a group of california investors are on the verge of constructing a huge theme park around Seveirville--If this is the case--where will everybody go,stay and play.The GSMNP will have to absorb at least a part of this,It is crowded now--sometimes it is impossible to fish(at lower elevations).When will progress begin to affect the park's ecosystemAt what point will enviromental concerns have to increase relative to the ongoing increase of visitors to the park and beyond?

07-05-2006, 10:42 PM
There were tourists, of course, even in the 40's, but nothing similar to now. Never anyone from Memorial Day to Labor Day. April and May were the highlights of the trout season. High water in the Spring would have pushed lots of trout from the "Park" (where most had been stocked) into Gatlinburg, where they were fair game for hellgramite and worm fishers. Lots of smallies and big rock bass. Also a chub known as "knotties" or "knot heads", which we kids would snag on their spawning runs and sell to the tourists as "trout". Gray hackle yellows and royal coachmen were the flies of choice (bought for .15 cents with snells attached). In the "Park" when the going was tough we would add cheese or bread to the fly..it could be snapped off the hook if a ranger appeared!

Rog 1
07-06-2006, 10:52 AM
My grandparents lived in Sevierville and my earliest memories are from the 50's....back then there were no motels in Sevierville and only a couple in Pigeon Forge that handled the overflow from the tourist mecca of G'burg. Sevierville had a motor court behind my grandparents' home and occasionally they would call late at night with a plea from a stranded motorist....back then you could leave their house and be fishing above the Park HQ in about 20 minutes.....then came Dollywood and all the excesses.....the Park used to have a hatchery at the Chimney's picnic area that was also a campground....never went there back then that you didn't see at least one bear hitting the garbage cans....fishing was closed from Sept. 15 until April 15 and you fished under regulations that were actively enforced under threat of confiscation of equipment, fine and banishment from the Park for a year....could always see locals fishing with cane poles and stick stringers full of trout....could drive all the way to Fish Camp Prong and beyond and tube hatches were few and far between....WProng of the Pigeon was a sportsman's stream where everything under 16" was to be returned....40-50 fish days there were common.....and no one had yet to see a brown trout in the park....