Lower Little River and Little River Outside the Park:
The Little River exits Great Smoky Mountains National Park and flows through the
town of Townsend, Tennessee. Inside the park, the main part of Little River, or
East Prong called Little River by most people, flows along the winding road that
leads to Gatlinburg for several miles. The river is at a low elevation at the point it
exits the park boundary and for the first few miles upstream. The open exposure
to the sun for much of the river caused by the open area of the road, doesn’t help
matters. For the first few miles upstream from the park's entrance, the water is too
warm for trout for most of the year. The better trout fishing starts above the point
Meigs Creek flows into the Little River. An even safer bet would be to start above
the falls below Metcalf Bottoms. The section of the stream in Metcalf Bottoms can
become too warm during the hottest days of summer but is okay most of the year.
There are smallmouth bass in the lower section of the river. On the average,
smallmouth inside the park are not very large but they do increase in size the
farther downstream you go. The lower part of the river inside the park has some
large, long pools that provides a good habitat for smallmouth. I would expect there
are also some larger brown trout in this section of the stream.
Outside the park, the stream is stocked with trout by the state during the cooler
months of the year. There are a few public access points you can fish the river. I
feel sure most of the property owners along the river would grant permission to
anyone asking to fish.
The best way to fish the river would probably be from a small light-weight boat or
canoe. Smallmouth bass fishing is considered good from Townsend all the way to
the Bridge near Maryville. I have only fished from the bank or by wading the
stream, but even so, I have been able to catch a few smallmouth bass the few
times I have tried.
As far as the trout fishing in Townsend is concerned, like most anywhere else, the
stream is usually stocked where it is most convenient for the workers to stock it.
This usually means a point they can get their truck close to the river such as
I have only fished for trout outside the park in Little River twice and that was
several years ago. On one occasion, I did so behind a church in Townsend. A
member of the church gave me permission to fish there. If you choose to do so, I
would recommend that you ask their permission because it is private property.
There are small bluffs on the opposite side of the river from the church. It is a
beautiful section of the river. I managed to catch three or four stockers wading the
creek in that area in just a few minutes.
The other time I was staying at a motel that is located on the stream and I fished
from their property behind the motel. I managed only a couple of fish on that
occasion but I only fished an hour or two. There was snow on the ground that
winter day and the water was very cold. I would think that you could do much
better at the right time.
My guess is that the smallmouth bass fishing in Little River is very underrated like
many other eastern Tennessee streams. I have talked to several knowledgeable
anglers who praise the smallmouth fishing in Little River and I have no reason to
question them. The larger smallmouth are probably located downstream of
Townsend. I am basing that strictly on water temperatures that affect their growth
Trout fishing is far better inside the park where the fish are either wild or native, in
the case of brook trout. If you want to catch some stockers, it can be done in Little
River outside the park during the winter months.
Copyright 2008 James Marsh