We’ve had a full week of fly fishing in the Smoky Mountains and East Tennessee this week. Mild weather and good water levels have made for perfect conditions from the brook trout streams high in the Smokies down to the smallmouth rivers in the valleys.
This is peak season for hike-in trips in the Smokies. While there are almost endless possibilities for this in the park, we have a weak spot for brook trout this time of year. We have our favorite fly patterns, but almost anything will catch them.
This week we’ve been using Royal Stimulators, Parachute Adams, and Elkmont Ants in size #14. The only downer, if you could call it that, was we hooked into far more rainbow trout than usual. That’s really not a problem, but the stream we were fishing will only yield a few bows on a typical outing.
Not only is it peak season for specks in the backcountry, it’s also peak season for smallmouth bass. We’ve always wondered why smallies seem to be the redheaded stepchild of gamefish to many fly fishers. Heck, carp seem to get more respect at times!
Water conditions are great on Little River and the Pigeon River for smallies right now. The Pigeon was a bit off color last week, but it’s gotten quite a bit clearer this week. Little River is also fishing extremely well from Townsend down to Maryville as well. Most fly fishers bypass thes fish for trout higher up, but we’ll often skip the more crowded trout streams this time of year for more solitude (and stronger fish) further down the river.
Streamers are working well in the riffles right now, but we have a tough time taking the popper off. Use a bigger popper if you want to keep the panfish off, but they’re pretty fun too! We’re using #8-10 poppers most frequently, but moving up to #4-6 when we feel like some real mean smallies are in the vicinity.