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

July, August and September:

July will begin to limit the productive fishing on the streams at the lower elevations. The
Tube hatch (float tubing) will be in full force. You will need to fish early to avoid them in
popular tubing areas or even better, just get off the main roadside streams and fish
areas that are not inhibited by the tubers and swimmers.

The water will tend to be too warm everywhere in the park except for the small streams
in the higher elevations. Unless you fish these streams for brook trout, you options may
be limited to fishing early and late in the day.

Stream water levels may decline to the point the water becomes low during the month.
On a wet year the Smokies may receive as much as eight feet of total rainfall in the
higher elevations. The water levels can vary greatly during the month of July depending
on the rain. Low water makes for tougher fishing conditions, but still provides plenty of
opportunity to catch trout. It just takes a little more skill in your approach and

You can continue to "wet wade" in July and through the month of August if you prefer.
Hiking, backpacking and camping in remote sites is popular throughout the summer.
Many anglers may not be aware that the temperatures in the highest elevations of the
park may be very cool during the evenings. In fact, if you camp in the highest elevations,
you may find it cool enough for a jacket during the night and early morning. It may not be
hot until mid afternoon even on the hottest days.

August is still a good month for those that want to explore the small brook trout streams
in the higher elevation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is commonly
called the "dog days" but that doesn't mean that you cannot catch trout. You will just
need to fish in the higher elevations or early in the day.

Low water may become even more of a problem and this may create some tough
fishing conditions. As I mentioned before, it strictly depends on the rainfall. Low water
conditions just adds to the challenge. The trout will be able to spot you much easier and
you will have to make longer cast. With the low water conditions, you must stay hidden
from the trout at all times. Lighter and longer leaders and tippets will help prevent the
trout from being alerted of your presence. You will be able to get around in the streams
much easier than you can when the water levels are high. Low water will provide some
clearance from the heavy brush along the banks of the streams.

The park's beautiful native brook trout will continue to provide plenty of action. Cool
nights in the high elevations help keep the water cool even on the hottest days. August
limits the area of the park you can fish, but is still a good time to fish the highest
elevations. If you can only come once or twice a year, we suggest you choose another
time. If you can visit fairly often, give the small streams in the higher elevations a try.

September days normally continue to be hot in the Smokies - that is everywhere except
the higher elevations.  It is common for people to forget or even be unaware that even on
the hottest days of summer, the temperature in the higher elevations of the park are
usually mild and cool. Before the month is over, the air temperatures will begin to drop
and the water will become cooler everywhere in the park. Your chances of success in
the streams located in the mid elevations from 2000 to 4000 feet will increase. The
highest elevations will be even cooler during he evenings. Before the month is over, the
nights can get rather chilly.

September is normally a dry month but keep in mind that the Smokies receive more
rainfall than any area of the United States. Isolated thunderstorms will occur randomly
and can improve the conditions. Water levels become an important consideration. A
stream on the north end of the park may be very low while another at the south end of
the park may be normal. The same thing is true of streams on the Tennessee side of
the park versus the North Carolina side. Conditions can vary greatly depending on the
isolated thunderstorms.

The tourist crowds, swimmers, and tube floaters will decrease as the month goes by.
School will have started back and many anglers make the mistake of putting their fly
rods in the closet thinking the fly fishing season is over. That is a huge mistake. In some
angler's minds, the best is yet to come.

Copyright 2011 James Marsh
Brook trout will provide action all
summer long in the small
streams of the high elevations.
Most of them will be small, like
this one, but they are fun and fairly
easy to catch.
All images are thumbnails,
click for larger view
All images are thumbnails,
click for larger view
If you are not fishing the high
elevations, try to fish during the
cooler parts of the day. Early
mornings are best.
Rainbow trout will seek the fast water
with lots of oxygen. This fat rainbow
came beneath the white water  
created by a 3 foot high plunge.
Browns will feed during low light
situations. Fish the shaded areas
of the stream, underneath banks,
logs and other cover during the
bright part of the day.
This is an ideal place to catch a
rainbow during the hot summer. In
fact Angie caught three rainbows
from this particular run.
Lakes near the park also provide
some good trout fishing, especially
during the summer. Fishing them
requires completely different
methods than the streams.
All images are thumbnails,
click for larger view
click for larger view