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 East Prong Of Little River (Elkmont Campground To Its
The East Prong of Little River from Elkmont to its headwaters is another very good
section of water that's as good as any in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Most anglers want to travel upstream a good ways to get away from everyone and
there is certainly nothing wrong with that but you certainly do not have to in order to
catch plenty of trout. Just upstream of the campground at the Bridge over Little
River at the Little River Trailhead you will find some excellent water. For some
reason (I think it's because it appears to be to easy to access to be any good)
anglers don't tend to fish the first half mile or so of the area above the bridge. Angie
and I have fished this area many times when there was not anyone fishing the area
yet the parking area was full of vehicle that obviously belonged to anglers. Most
hikers and tourist don't have their vehicles covered with fishing decals and logos.
It's one of Angie's favorites spots on Little River and for good reasons. She always
catches several nice trout before we get from the bridge to the first old house on
the stream bank headed upstream. The large pool near end of that stretch always
produces for her. I video taped her catching five trout out of that one pool one cold
December day and three of them were good size brown trout. Yes, I did say out of
the pool, not the fast water. There have been plenty of days we have caught a lot of
trout (it would surprise you if I listed the numbers) within the first mile or so
upstream from the bridge.
You may think I am revealing a hot spot, but trust me, it's no better than the next
few miles of the stream. All I am saying is that we usually don't strike out on a long
hike upstream because we don't have to. I should also say we have watched
several other anglers fish that area and most of the time, not even cast in the pool
I'm referring to. We have yet to see anyone catch the first trout out of it even
though i have seen Angie catch several dozen out of it over the last few years. She
refuses to let me fish it. I usually start fishing just past there and catch plenty of
trout heading on upstream. We have walked two or three miles before we have
started to fish and it seems to not make any difference. The entire upper millage of
Little River is just a good stretch of water obviously with a high population of trout
although I have no way of really knowing if it actually has more than other areas of
Little River or not. I haven't seen any shock test results from the park and fishing
only allows you to speculate on the population.
The trail, which is an old road, is easy to hike. Its gradient is continuously, slightly
uphill and not steep at all. For some reason, the size of Little River changes very
little as you go upstream. It stays near the same size for a long way. Something else
noticeable is that the brown trout continue to appear as if there were not any
change in the upstream population of trout.
There are numerous tiny branches that feed into Little River as you head up
stream. The first one of any size is Huskey Branch and it's very small. The first
major tributary stream you will reach is Fish Camp Prong. Its a major tributary of the
Little River with several tributaries of its own. It's located about four miles upstream
from the Little River Trailhead. That would be a tough one day trip for many anglers
and for that reason, most anglers prefer to stay at one of the campsites on the
upper Little River to fish it. Of course, I know some younger guys that hike there to
fish on a one day trip as if that wasn't a problem at all.
The trout in Fish Camp Prong are mostly rainbows with a few browns in the lower
sections. Brook trout begin to show up farther upstream. It has lots of small
branches that flow into it. The larger tributaries of Fish Camp Prong are Ash Camp
Branch, Buckeye Gap Prong, Silers Creek, and Goshen Prong. Goshen Prong trail
follows Fish Camp Prong from its confluence with Little River for about three miles
and then upstream on Goshen Prong itself. These streams in the upper end and
headwaters of Fish Camp Prong all have populations of brook trout.
Not far upstream above Fish Camp Prong on the main stem of Little River is Rough
Creek. Rough Creek Trail follows it for about two miles. Farther upstream on the
main stem you will find Meigs Post Prong and Grouse Creek. There are several tiny
prongs all the way up to near the Appalachian Trail near Clingmans Dome that feed
these uppermost creeks. Most of these little streams above and including Meigs
Post Prong hold brook trout.
Campsite #24 is probably the most popular campsite for anglers. It's located just
below the Rough Creek confluence. Campsite #23 is about another three miles
upstream on Goshen Prong Trail from the confluence of Fish Camp Prong and the
main stem of LIttle River. This one is also a popular site for anglers. You can also
reach it on the Goshen Prong Trail from the Clingmans Dome Road. It is shown to
be 4.4 miles from the road to the campsite. If I used this approach, I think I may want
to just head on downstream from #23 to Elkmont and leave my vehicle at the
trailhead to pick up later. I'm only kidding but it is a steep decline according to the
elevation profile on my GPS. There's also a remote site #30 near the end of the
main prong of Little River. It must be accessed from downstream.
I opened this article with the statement that this section of Little River and the
section from Metcalf Bottoms up to Elkmont Campground is as good as any section
of stream in the park. Remember, I didn't say better than any - I said as good as.
It isn't the stream that's going to make a substantial difference in what you
catch in quantity or quality. It's your fishing skills but even more important,
its your understanding the trout, their habitat, behavior, and the food they
I received so much email from comments I made in yesterday's article along the
lines of fishing success, I will elaborate some more on the subject. The streams in
the park are all small, fast pocket water streams. Catching fish when conditions are
great usually isn't that much of a problem for anyone that can cast twenty feet and
follows a few basic procedures - staying hidden, getting a good drift, etc. Its all the
other times when fishing isn't that easy - the two months of very hot summer
weather, the two to three months of cold weather, the hundred days of low water,
the few days of high water, and the many days it's raining, snowing, the wind is
blowing, it's storming, someone's fishing in front of you, tube floaters are running
over you, etc, etc. In other words, seventy-five percent or more of the time. It's
during those times, which is the majority of the days anglers could fish that most
anglers have a difficult time catching very many trout. It's easy and self satisfying to
just pretend it's the "poor" fishing conditions that's the problem. Some anglers are
completely satisfied on waiting on conditions to change to where its easy to catch
trout. Many are not even aware that it's really their way of fishing and not the fishing
conditions that's the problem. They think they are doing everything right and its
because the fish are not feeding. They think that's just a part of fishing and for
them, it is.
There isn't anything wrong with going fishing only when it's very easy to catch trout.
It should be fun first and foremost. But for those anglers that realize lack of success
usually isn't because the fish won't eat, it's their knowledge and skills that's lacking,
such a causal approach isn't good enough. Many anglers enjoy getting out in the
outdoors whenever they can and they want to be able to catch trout wherever and
whenever they go. Some anglers take their fishing rather seriously and some don't.
Some are satisfied with mediocre results and some aren't.
I've always been the type that wanted to keep improving and keep learning more
and more about the sport, never being completely satisfied with everything. It's
successfully meeting the challenge of being able to consistently catch fish that
gives me the most satisfaction. It's competition but not with other anglers. It's
competition with the fish and the elements Mother Nature hands us.
Most of what I write about is oriented towards helping someone become a better
angler. I learned many years ago that being consistently successful required
learning a lot about the fish and the food they eat, irrespective of the species of fish
you were after. I know for certain that if I had not of used that approach, I wouldn't
have been able to learn a living for the last thirty years from TV shows, instructional
videos on fishing and a few other closely related outdoor activities such as boating.
One reason I mention this is because I often fail to put the fun and enjoyment
element into what I write about fishing. That's not only because I take it seriously.
It's also because I am not a very good writer, especially when it comes to adding the
entertainment aspects of it. Well, on second thought, maybe some of you get a kick
out of seeing how I can abuse the English language.