Planning Your Trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
When To Come and What To Expect:

April, May and June:

The first part of April can still bring some rapid changes in the weather. A big cold
front can come through and bring a few days of what is commonly called a
Blackberry Winter but the odds of this happening gets lower as the April days go by.
Thunderstorms can roll through but usually last for only a short time. The long range
weather forecast should clue you in on any bad weather potential. You should
always check it before deciding on dates to fish Great Smoky Mountains National

In April the trees are usually blooming well in the lower elevations and starting to
bloom in the highest elevations. The dogwood trees will be in full bloom by the
middle of the month. Wildflowers will be blooming in the forest. The Smokies is
home to over 1500 different flowering species. For the most part, the fish will
probably be very active and several species of aquatic insects should be hatching.
Most of the time you will be able to catch trout on the surface with dry flies.
You want to try to avoid periods of heavy rainfall caused by major storm fronts
crossing the nation. Again, the long range weather forecast should clue you in on
this at least three or four days in advance.

The only downfall to the month of April is that some of the streams tend to get
crowded. It is probably the most fished period of time during the year. If you are not
careful you can find yourself fishing behind someone else that has waded up the
stream in front of you. You can easily solve this by getting off the streams along
roads and major trails that follow the rivers.  All things considered, provided you are
not just highly unlucky with the weather, April is an excellent month to fly fish the

May is considered the best month to fish the Smokies by many anglers. The weather
is normally a little more stable than it is in April. It may rain frequently but when it
does, the streams usually return to their normal levels very quickly. The trout should
be active from the lower to the higher elevations. You have a lot of options as to
where to fish and what to fish for during the month of May. You can try to catch a
large brown trout, fish for rainbows most anywhere in the park, or catch brook trout
fairly easy in the small streams of the higher elevations.

Aquatic insects will continue to hatch although the number of species and quantities
of hatching insects may decline from those in April. Little Yellow Stoneflies called
"Yellow Sallys" will be hatching and provide excellent fishing opportunities for most
of the day. Late in the day you may be able to catch trout feeding on the egg layers on
dry fly imitations.  You will have more time to fish each day as the days will be getting
longer. You can start fishing earlier in the day than you can on cold mornings. If you
prefer to stay in the park's campgrounds and remote campsites, May is usually a
good month to do so. School will still be going on and the tourist crowds will be less
than they are during the summer. The float tubers will not arrive until June. All things
considered, May is a great time to plan your fly fishing tip to the Smokies. The flame
azalea will begin to bloom in the lower elevations. The Mountain Laural will be in full
bloom in the higher elevations. It is a beautiful time to fish the Smokies.

June brings warmer weather. The hills and valley turn a rich, deep green. The Flame
Azalea will be at their peak. Rhododendron will reach their peak in the lower
elevations.  Thunderstorms will begin to appear in the afternoons but will be short
lived. Before the month is over, the air temperatures in the lower elevations of Great
Smoky Mountains National Park will reach into the nineties.  Some sections of the
streams in the lower elevations will begin to reach marginal high water
temperatures for the trout. Towards the middle of June, the higher water
temperatures will usually slow the fish activity in most of the larger streams in the
park but the small steams in the higher elevations will come into full swing.
Aquatic insect hatches will be fewer and farther between and terrestrial insects will
become important. Ants, beetles and grass hopper imitations will begin to work.
Moth larvae, usually called "inch worms" will appear on the limbs of trees and begin
to fall into the water.

Tubers and swimmers will begin to be a problem for those that want to fish along
the roads. You will need to get off the main traffic areas and in more remote areas of
the streams. You can usually be alone if you fish early and late in the day.
If you like, you can "wet wade" the streams. The water will be warm enough that you
can put the waders away and just wear felt sole wading boots. Walking into the
remote areas of the park is much easier if you don't wear waders.

This is the month many anglers must choose because their children are out of
school and they must spent their vacation time with them. That makes Great Smoky
Mountains a real value in respect to its many other activities that are suitable for the
other members of the family.

Copyright 2011 James Marsh
All images are thumbnails,
click for larger view
All images are thumbnails,
click for larger view
You cannot cast from the banks in
many streams because of the heavy
vegetation and tree limbs. Wading is
necessary in those cases.
Blooms of late Spring and early
Springtime brings on most of the
aquatic insect hatches in the park's
streams. Hatches provide the most
fun way to catch trout on the fly.
A beautiful little brown that took
Angie's "Perfect Fly" Light Cahill Dun
Imitation. This hatch last a long time
in the Smokies.
James fishing Cataloochee Creek
during May. This is one of our favorite
streams in the park. It has several
large hatches of mayflies.
The first of the month of April is not
always warm. Angie had to use a
nymph to catch this little brown
during a Blackberry Winer last year.
The Smokies have a huge variety of
butterflies most of which are
beautiful. We always like to
photograph them for our collection.
You will see lots of this species.
All images are thumbnails,
click for larger view
All images are thumbnails,
click for larger view