Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Mahogany Duns
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies
4. Slate Drakes
5. Needle Stoneflies
6. Little Yellow Quills
13. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Fly Fishing The West Prong Of Little River
The West Prong of the Little River is the smallest branch or prong of the Little River
system. Most anglers drive right by it and turn on the Middle Prong Road or
continue into Cades Cove. Although I'm sure this really isn't the case, it seems the
trout in this little stream are highly migratory. I say that because we have caught
one on just about every cast, or nothing at all at different times. It's overlooked by
most anglers. After all, they have to also pass by the East Prong of Little River to
get there. You would have to call this a small stream even by Smoky Mountain
I would guess the lower part has some smallmouth bass but we haven't caught any
or fished it near its confluence with the Middle Prong. I do know it seems to be
different from the other two prongs of Little River in this sense. You can drive up the
West Prong on Laurel Creek Road (many call it Cades Cove Road) just a short
ways above the confluence of the Middle Prong and catch rainbow trout. In fact, on
one occasion, I video taped Angie catching a few dozen trout in a very short stretch
in a very short time all within a few feet of the road. She was almost was
embarrassed at the numbers (since the camera was running) and stopped fishing
when they were still hitting about every other cast. Now, I should also say that none
were over about eight inches and most of them were probably five or six inches long
but that's also about average for the park for rainbow trout. This was in October on
the lower end of the stream just before the stream leaves the road when you are
headed towards Cave Cove. This is a relatively low elevation and the air
temperature was in the low eighties. We went later that day to the Middle Prong and
fished at about the same elevation without catching the first trout. My only
explanation is that the water was much cooler in the West Prong because it's mostly
covered by a canopy of tree limbs from its headwaters until it reaches the road. For
some reason, I couldn't find my thermometer that day, something I don't normally
ever go fishing without.
A year later, on approximately the same date, we took my grandchildren there
thinking they would be able to catch some rainbows and we failed to catch the first
trout. Angie tried to show them how and she couldn't catch one either. It was much
cooler though but I actually thought that would be even better. I haven't the slightest
idea what caused the huge difference. I searched my tiny brain trying to determine
what the difference could be. That's why I jokingly said they migrate. I don't really
think so, but it sure makes me wonder about it.
I should also say that we have fished the area at least a dozen times at different
times of the year and have always been able to catch plenty of smaller rainbow
trout. I quickly researched our video logs and it shows lots of rainbows caught
except for that one time with the children. For some reason, we have never caught
a brown trout there although I have read where they do exist in the stream. I know a
very few have been caught in the lower section of the Middle Prong.
Several pull offs are available along the road that borders the lower section of the
West Prong. Most of this stream isn't directly accessible from the road. You have to
hike up the stream (I should say in the stream) or reach it via the West Prong Trail.
The West Prong Trailhead is near the Smoky Mountain Institute on the Middle
Prong. It's about two and three-fourths miles from there to the stream. There's a
trail located on Laurel Creek Road that intersects the West Prong Trail in just over
a mile. This takes you near campsite #18. This is a good trail and camp site to use
to access its upper part of the West Prong which offers excellent fishing for the
small rainbows. It's covered with an almost solid canopy of tree limbs and not all that
easy to fish but the trout are plentiful. The stream runs several miles from the road
up to near the top of Thunderhead Mountain.
Laurel Creek is the only significant tributary stream that's worth fishing. It too
usually contains a good population of small but eager rainbows. Most all of the
sizable part of Laurel Creek can easily be accessed for the Laurel Creek road. We
have fished this little stream a few times and always caught some trout. It provides
some very tough casting conditions. Wherever you can get a fly to the water without
spooking them, it seems to produce a small rainbow.
The West Prong and Laurel Creek can both be good streams to fish when the East
and Middle Prongs of Little River are crowded, or if they are running high after
heavy rains. It's also a good stopping off point if you found Abrams Creek crowded .
You will have to pass the West Prong on the way back unless you leave Cades
Cove on one of its two remote gravel road exits.
In places, casting on the West Prong can be difficult due to the stream being tightly
enclosed with tree limbs and bushes. In fact, most of the stream that is not along
the road is tightly enclosed and in some areas, deeper pools and large rocks make
going upstream tough. A very few areas offer plenty of room to cast, so it depends
on where you access the stream. Catching trout is usually easy. They are almost
always eager to attack a fly with vigor. The area along Cades Cove Road is easy to
fish because the road solves the tree problem on one side of the stream.
This is by no means a destination stream but it is a creek you may want to try one
of these days. It may fool you. It has fooled us but mostly was to our advantage.