Photos by David Knapp

Smokies Stream

Rainbow Trout

Freestone Trout Stream






As the most visited national park in the country, the Great Smoky Mountains can often feel crowded. The majority of visitors never set foot off the pavement leaving the expansive backcountry available for the (blank) angler. Fisherman that are first time visitors to the park make the mistake of being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of quality water available to fish in the park. As one drives into the park from any of the major entrances, the first thing you notice will be the beautiful streams that often parallel the roads.

Do yourself a favor and just ignore that beautiful water. Instead grab a trail map and head into the backcountry. Most experienced Smokies anglers head for the many miles of water that require a little effort to get to anytime they want an easy day of fishing. If fishing dry flies to hungry fish is your thing then look no farther than the backcountry jewels in the Great Smoky Mountains. By walking 3-4 miles from the nearest road, you can often find a seemingly unlimited number of willing trout.

A 3 or 4 weight rod with a small box of dry flies is all you need for a day of exploring. The fish are rarely picky and will hammer a #14 Parachute Adams just as well as a #16 Elk Hair Caddis or a #20 Griffiths Gnat. Just in case, its always good to carry a few reliable wet flies as well. Tellico, Pheasant Tail, Prince and Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear nymphs should be carried at all times in case the fish aren’t looking up. In the summer include a few ants and beetles and in the winter a few midges and you should be set for some fantastic fishing.

Many of my best days of fishing in the park have come as a result of the hiking I did before starting to fish. While working at Little River Outfitters, I would often tell visiting anglers that everyone would walk a mile or two before fishing and if they wanted to get to the best fishing they should go farther than that. To really put distance between yourself and other fisherman you have to put forth some effort. I set myself a minimum of three miles if I have the time. Generally it is well worth the trouble…

David Knapp's Website "The Trout Zone"


Backpack, Rod and Reel





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