First High Country Expedition for Native Broook Trout in the Smokies This Season

fishing for smoky mountain brook trout

Forrest Long gets the drift in a high elevation brook trout stream

It’s about that time. Spring is in full effect, wildflowers are blooming in the Smokies and shades of bright green are ascending the mountains slowly one day at a time. It’s time to start hiking in for native brook trout known as specks in the southern mountains.

While the fishing featured more nymphing than is typical in these streams later in the season, we found some pretty good action in a pristine setting. There were some dry fly takes as well, but they were certainly outnumbered by the number of fish that took the lower half of the Thunderhead and Zelon Nymph dropper rig.

Under water brook trout

Steve and Forrest Long have been fishing with me for many years now and I’ve taken them to a variety of rivers and streams. Even as they’ve caught some very nice fish from the drift boat they always prefer to hike in to a secluded location. It’s even better if it’s full of specks, although I have to say they’re also pretty happy to hook rainbows and browns too.

Steve casts a nymph into a plunge pool after a long day of climbing over boulders

Steve casts a nymph into a plunge pool after a long day of climbing over boulders

Expect these high elevation streams to only fish better with every passing week. While it was a little cool to be up this high in April these streams almost never disappoint.


  1. Forrest Long says:

    Those two fisherman have great form. They must of had a great guide to teach them. Just wanted to say we had a great couple of days fishing with Ian and are already looking forward to next years trip.

  2. Landed a few rainbows on the Elk River yesterday with drys thanks to your instruction and tail water book!

  3. Devin Gordon says:

    Great post!! Im from Michigan. Im coming down for the first time next week. What weight fly rods do you mostly use for these native specks? casting nymph rigs (with strike indicators). I have a 4 weight. What do you recommend? Thank you.

    • A 4 weight will work great. If the weather is pretty nice out you might try a bushy dry fly with a nymph underneath and forego the strike indicator. If it’s a warm, sunny day you may not even need a nymph. Have a great time in a special place!