Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 07/24/15
The park got just the right amount of rain to keep both the trout and the trout anglers
happy. Looks like the Little River watershed got the most, but it was just the right
amount to keep the levels up. In a nutshell, conditions for this time of the year
could not be any better.
I'm going to leave this up from yesterday for another day.
Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River (Greenbrier):
To catch brook trout at this location, just head to the parking area at the end of the
road that follows the river to the Ramsay Cascades Trailhead. At times you will see
several vehicles there, but those are most likely vehicles of people who came to see
Ramsay Cascades, or to hike into the backcountry. I don't think I have ever seen
anyone there fishing for brook trout. I should also mention that wouldn't be easy to
do, even if several guys were there fishing, because most of the best water is hidden
from the trail.
By the way, you can catch brook trout before you get to the trailhead at the parking
lot. We have caught some as low as a mile below the trailhead, but you will find far
more rainbows than brook trout below the trailhead.
Fishing the upper part of the Middle Prong, or any of the small tributaries, is a
problem for most anglers. It's about a mile and a half above the last trial access to the
stream where the river splits into its tributaries of Chapman Prong, Eagle Rocks
Prong and Buck Fork. Below that point, it's a very difficult stream to fish with larger,
deep pools and plenty of plunges and short cascades. There's also plenty of
boulders the size of your bedroom.
From the bridge at the parking lot upstream, it's very difficult to fish. I have fished it
several times but always during low water conditions. If the water levels are normal or
high, it's an almost impossible stretch of water to fish. You can proceed up the trail
about a mile or more, and do much better.
Another reason the stream is difficult to fish, is it isn't easy to access from the trail.
The trail is high above the stream in most areas, and it stays high above it as far up
as the Ramsay Prong confluence. Above that point, there isn't a trail that follows the
main stream. The trail follows Ramsay Prong which is smaller and more like the
typical brook trout stream. At that point, the main stem heads off to your right. It's a
rather large stream with huge pools that are, by the way, full of brook trout, but
difficult to fish. It's easy to access the water at the confluence, but only Ramsay
Prong is easy to access above that point. It's about four miles from the trailhead to
the Ramsay Prong Cascades.
If you are a good climber and can get around in this type of stream, you have
plenty of water to fish on the main stem above the confluence of Ramsay Prong. It
is a beautiful stretch of water. Above that point, the main stem has several small
tributaries, but we have not ventured any further up the main stem than a short
distance, and then only during low water conditions. You either wade upstream in the
water or crawl under dense rhododendron bushes with the timber rattlesnakes.
Middle Prong Little Pigeon River Tributaries - Ramsay Prong:
Ramsay Prong is the easiest to fish brook trout water in the entire Middle Prong of
the Little Pigeon River. That's simply because it has a trail that follows it along,
although access isn't exactly easy from the trail in many areas. The banks of
Ramsay Prong are steep, and access is still tough in most places. It's a smaller
stream than the main stem of the river and all in all, much easier to fish.
It has been written in everything I can find, that this stream's high pH level keeps the
brook trout population low. I'm not sure if that's just repeated information or what.
The "or what", could be there are not any nearby fly shops to push and promote
streams near their cash register location. I do know that it hasn't reduced the
population enough that it affects the numbers of brook trout I can catch from the
stream. They seem to average just as large as those brookies from most any other
stream of its size, and we seem to catch them about as fast as we can maneuver
around in the stream. I'll admit that's usually not very fast, because it is tough to
I have made it to the mouth of Chapman Prong only one time, and it was under very
low water conditions. I doubt I will ever do that again because I cannot think of a good
reason to do so. It's about a mile from the confluence of Ramsay Prong to the
mouth of Chapman Prong, and you have to get there in the streambed. There's
more than a complete day of brook trout fishing water downstream of it that's
probably better than Chapman Prong. I have only fished a very short distance up
Chapman Prong and that may not be the case if someone pursued it. When and if
you get there, you will also have the choice of fishing Buck Fork. Buck Fork is an
even smaller stream that we have never fished.
Eagle Rocks Prong comes into Chapman Prong approximately a half-mile
upstream. We have never been there, and I will assure you I probably never will. It
would require far more effort than I could possible muster up in a day trip. If you do
fish it, you will have something to bug your friends about. You could have them
construct a trail for you. Just tell them that it is the best brook trout in the park.
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
It will be partly sunny, with a high near 86. There is a 20 percent chance of showers
and thunderstorms after 2pp. The wind will be from the north at 5 to 10 mph this
Saturday, there is a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. It will be
mostly sunny with a high near 84.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data: Click
to links to see updates:
Little River: Rate: 350 cfs at 2.26 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 332 cfs at 1.59 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 60 cfs at 2.35 ft (good wading conditions up to 125 with
extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River: It is still at a good level to fish.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
According to the Precipitation map, they should be in good condition.
Current Recommended Streams:
Any of the streams above about the 2500 foot elevation. It is going to be hot again
today. This is summertime.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
Cinnamon Caddis: (mostly Abrams but a few in all of the streams) 16/18
Green Sedges (Caddis): 14/16
larva (green rock worms)
Slate Drakes: 10/12
Little Yellow Stoneflies: 14
Little Green Stoneflies: 16
Light Cahills: 14/16
Cream Cahills: 14/16
Inch Worms: Hook size : 10/12/14
Green/Tan/Orange Hoppers: 10/12
Black Carpenter Ants: 16/18
Japanese Beetles: 16/14
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
Keep in mind, the strategies I am recommending is for the maximum odds
of catching numbers of fish. Many prefer or favor a dry fly and by all means there
isn't anything wrong with that. It's just a fact that if nothing is hatching at the time, it
reduces your odds of success. You can still probably hook some trout, just not as
many as if you fish subsurface. Of course, this is also based on using good
techniques and the right flies. Some guys don't know how to fish below the surface.
If you fished the day or two before and know where something is hatching, fish the
nymph or larva stage of it. If you haven't fished the day or two before, until I spotted
something hatching, I would fish the Slate Drake nymph. They are big swimming
nymphs that are easily caught and eaten by trout and are still hatching. If you spot
something else hatching (coming off the water), it will most likely be Light or Cream
Cahills. Change to the appropriate emerger, dun or adult imitations of the insect.
When the Slate Drakes, Light or Cream Cahills are hatching, there will be a spinner
fall late in the day. Often, you can catch more trout fishing the spinner fall quicker
than you can during the hatch. Change to the spinner imitation of the mayfly.
Little Yellow and Little Green stoneflies are hatching, but of course, these hatches
take place during the evenings. Both species of stoneflies crawl out of the water to
hatch. Fishing a Little Green Stonefly nymph or Little Yellow Stonefly nymph, very
late in the afternoon near sunset should produce. If you see the stoneflies depositing
their eggs on the surface of the water, switch to the adult imitation of the stonefly.
As mentioned above, Light and Cream Cahills are hatching. Look for them in the
faster water areas. They will get caught up in the fast water runs and riffles.
Tips for Beginners:
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
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