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Old 05-21-2014, 07:33 PM
b_vanfossen b_vanfossen is offline
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Default Fish expectations?

Hey all

This is my first season for fishing the Smoky Mountains. I've been catching a lot of 7" fish some up to 9". Is that what I should expect? I know they are wild, but for larger trout (bigger fillet's) do I need to go elsewhere?

Also, as you travel upstream, up the mountain, and it gets smaller and smaller. Do the fish also get smaller? Or are there 9" 'era there too?
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:16 PM
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I'd say that's pretty typical.

If we are talking about Rainbows and Brookies and not Browns there are bigger fish in the lower reaches of the bigger streams. Also in smaller streams you will see bigger fish in prime feeding lies. I caught a 13" rainbow with Derrick on Good Friday on a really small stream so you never know what you will get into. Hugh Harsell (retired guide) had a picture of a 21 or 22 inch rainbow he caught on Abrams in the early 2000's on his website. I know when I hike up Little River to Huskey in the two really big pools I will often see some big rainbows (12-15?) that are REALLY hard to catch. There was also a wet fly guy who got on this forum during the last troutfest that was in Townsend and he caught some nice rainbows right below the sinks deep down where I don't ever see people work that water normally.

As for do they get smaller and smaller as you go higher up. Yes to some point, but in some really small brookie water such as Starkey there tends to be a big fish in every pool which is the opposite.

If you are wanting perfect filets Smokies might not fit the bill, but the smaller fish will taste better

Ooh and I've been catching way too may 3-5 inch fish, 7-9" sounds pretty good to me
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:43 PM
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The lowest stretches of Little River, Middle Prong and West Prong give a person a shot at some stockers that have run up from Townsend. These fish will be anywhere from 10-16 inches. You have to fish a bit differently from your "normal" Smokies approach and think of them more like the average stocker and what it will eat. Otherwise, you'll probably do better looking elsewhere on a consistent basis. Not that there aren't larger fish but catching them is another thing...
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:50 PM
b_vanfossen b_vanfossen is offline
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Good info. I would like to find a few places to catch larger fish. I went to the Houston last weekend and realized I forgot my waders! I tried to wade in Jean but it got too cold for me above my ankles! Lmao.
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Originally Posted by duckypaddler View Post

Ooh and I've been catching way too may 3-5 inch fish, 7-9" sounds pretty good to me
What a smart ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Knapp View Post
You have to fish a bit differently from your "normal" Smokies approach and think of them more like the average stocker and what it will eat.
I don't know how to fish for a stocked fish, yet.
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Old 05-22-2014, 12:46 PM
flyphish flyphish is offline
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I have always been curious if there are hidden lunkers in the smokies too? I know there are some decent browns that can be caught in the fall but hear stories from the 60's & 70's where 14"+ fish were super common..
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Old 05-22-2014, 06:46 PM
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I have always been curious if there are hidden lunkers in the smokies too? I know there are some decent browns that can be caught in the fall but hear stories from the 60's & 70's where 14"+ fish were super common..
The Park waters used to be stocked until around 1975 and I'm guessing that accounts for the larger fish that used to be more common, at least the larger rainbows. Large browns are more prevalent than most people realize but are extremely wary and generally difficult to catch.
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Old 05-23-2014, 09:50 AM
volfisher volfisher is offline
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I think that it all depends on the stream. In the East Prong of Little River I seem to catch a higher percentage of fish in the 12-15 inch range. But if I'm fishing, say, the Middle Prong of Little River most of my fish will be in the 10-12 inch range. If your wanting fish 18+ inches I would say that a stream like the Tellico River or Nantahala River would be your best shot. Fish just don't get much bigger than that in the park. Abrams Creek could be the only different one because it's "spring fed " so the insect population is much higher, which in turn makes the fish size larger .

Hope this helped!
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volfisher View Post
I think that it all depends on the stream. In the East Prong of Little River I seem to catch a higher percentage of fish in the 12-15 inch range. But if I'm fishing, say, the Middle Prong of Little River most of my fish will be in the 10-12 inch range. If your wanting fish 18+ inches I would say that a stream like the Tellico River or Nantahala River would be your best shot. Fish just don't get much bigger than that in the park. Abrams Creek could be the only different one because it's "spring fed " so the insect population is much higher, which in turn makes the fish size larger .

Hope this helped!
Do you carry a measuring tape? Would love to see some pics as I rarely hear of Smokies fisherman catching 15 inch fish.

Freddie caught one that size this year but he said it was like the 10 inch Brookies, you are bound to get one every decade or so, but definitely not an every day occurrence. And are you saying rainbows or Browns?
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:54 AM
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There may be some truth to statement about the former stocking of the park waters creating some hold overs but most of the stocking was down lower in the "road waters" where the tourists had more access to the rivers. I believe one of the hatcheries had been located where the Chimneys picnic area is now...this and the one over at Greenbrier both used to be full fledged campgrounds. The WPLR used to be a Sportman's Stream when I first started fishing in the park 50+ years ago...anything under 16" had to be put back...50-60 fish days back then were the norm...biggest fish I saw caught there was a 15" rainbow just above the bridge at the HQ...8-10 years ago I caught a 16" rainbow higher up but my guess is that it was a tourist from the Burg that held over for a season...it had all the markings of a wild trout so if a transplant it had been there a while. In the mid 70s when you could drive up to the forks of the river above Elkmont the big plunge pools on Fish Camp Prong held some monster rainbows but the bait fishermen targeted these fish and they soon disappeared. The largest trout I ever hooked was on Fish Camp Prong above where it joins Goshen Prong....that fish was half as long as my right arm and I will never forget watching it rise up off the bottom of a deep run and sip my Fanwinged Coachman...set the hook and he just twitched his head and tore out the fly and sunk out of sight...probably heard my profane diatribe over in Cherokee that day...there are still some good sized rainbows in some of the bigger water above Elkmont but getting to them and then getting them to take a fly is a challenge...but fun!
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Old 05-23-2014, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckypaddler View Post
Do you carry a measuring tape? Would love to see some pics as I rarely hear of Smokies fisherman catching 15 inch fish.
Unless it is used in conjunction with the name David Knapp.... In which case, I believe his average fish is 12 - 15"...

I say that jokingly, but in all honesty David does have a knack for catching large trout wherever he goes. And I can also say that 6 & 7" fish are absolutely the norm in my case as well.

Finally, if you are looking for fish to fillet as your post sounded, the park is not your place. I rarely keep fish, but have heard from many people that they would much rather cook an 8" fish whole than to even mess with cleaning 14" trout... We each have our own opinion.
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