Fishing The Roaring Fork
One of the best easy to access streams you can fish in the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park is the Roaring Fork. You can easily get to this stream
from downtown Gatlinburg via the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The road is a
one-way loop, so you can’t turn around and go back once you enter the one-way
part. You will pass the park's new office building on the way in. This is a very
popular drive for visitors but few anglers fish the stream.
We have seen bear, deer and turkey going around the loop even with all the
normal traffic. The first half of the loop goes up the mountain and then the second
part of the loop is downhill all the way. I haven’t checked the map or my GPS but it
is quite a change in elevation from Gatlinburg to the highest point of the loop..
When you first get to the where you can see the Roaring Fork from the road,
which is about half way around the loop, you can start fishing at that point and
fish upstream if you like. We haven’t gone very far upstream from there simply
because there was no need to do so. You would most likely have it all to yourself.
The Roaring Fork is a small stream but a lovely one to fish. It is not tiny. You can’t
jump across it in many places but it is not over twenty feet wide anywhere either, if
that. Obviously, it got its name from the roar it generates especially when the
water is up a little. The drop in elevation is quite steep and the water stays well
oxygenated. The upper part of the creek comes down a very steep decline and is
a little difficult to access. At the lower area of the park, the stream flows through a
gorge that is not exactly easy to get to. Other than that, the stream is very
We have fished this stream five or six times without seeing another angler. You
will see a lot of people but they stick with the road for the most part. You can fish
the stream until it departs the park near the end of the loop road. You can
actually continue to fish the stream but you would need a City of Gatlinburg
fishing permit to do that. Stopping anywhere along the downhill part of the loop
you will find that you can get to the stream but there are not very many places
you can park. You can fish without any interruptions from others in over ninety
percent of the stream even on a busy day for sightseers. On nice warm days you
may find some visitors walking along the stream and spooking the fish, but it is not
the usual thing and even then, there are many places that are too difficult for
them to approach without waders.
The fish are small rainbows. We have caught them up to eight inches in the
stream but most of them were four to five inches long. We have never fished for
over a couple of hours yet we have always caught several fish. On one trip
around the loop we caught at least twenty and another time we only managed
only one. The water was very cold that day.
If you want to combine a nice drive, close in to beautiful Gatlinburg, see some
interesting things along the way and be able to stop and fish at your convenience,
try the Roaring Fork. It is a lovely little stream with plenty of wild rainbow trout.
Copyright 2008 James Marsh