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Posted on: 03/23/2015

Fly Fishing the Smokies

Just outside of Gatlinburg lies the doorway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Fly Fishing the Smokies


It has been a recent goal of mine to fish unfamiliar water.

The idea of chasing down tight lines and beautiful new horizons has consumed my thoughts. I had heard stories of the elusive, but stunning native trout of the Smoky Mountains, and have since been dying to give them my best go.

When I found out fellow Western Rise Ambassador Maddie Brenneman was spending time in Georgia, talk of a weekend trip began.

With some planning and advice from local fly shops, Maddie and I were bound for Gatlinburg, Tennessee with my good buddy Matt.

Just outside of Gatlinburg lies the doorway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nestled within these misty, ancient peaks, are the tales of fly fisherman who have made the journey before me in search of their own piece of glory.

I like to think of my small story as just the next chapter.

Day one on the Little River proved to be very good for Matt. With in a short while he was on the fish.

After throwing what seemed like everything I had in my box, I was rewarded with nothing more than a few tree branches, lost flies, and line tangles.

It didn’t matter. I was just happy to be in the mountains.

That night at camp as the crackle of the fire filled the air, we played cards and smoked cigars under the soft luminescence of Matt’s make shift water gallon lighting. We shared stories and filled our stomachs with over cooked quinoa and Tin Cup Whiskey.

There are few things that can get me out of bed before the sun, fishing has and always will be one of those things.

As we Dawn Patrolled Le Conte Creek, I chased Maddie up the cascading water, camera in hand, eager to get some shots of Western Rise's new gear in action. 

We bounced around from boulder to boulder, but were unable to find a fish willing to eat from the menu Maddie was serving. I guess they weren’t hungry for breakfast.

Before long we were back on the Little River. It was here that I caught my most memorable fish. Standing chest deep in that crystal clear water I slung my #14 prince nymph upstream. As my indicator sank, my heartbeat rose. We danced for a while and he showed me his best aerials.

Finally, I held in my hand the most colorful brown I had ever seen. I am convinced that God put a little extra effort into browns.

We finished out the day fishing very close together, joined by our good friend Brock, who happened to be in the area. For me, fly fishing has always been about doing what I love surrounded by people doing what they love.

Standing there in that little piece of heaven targeting rises with our dry flies, all was well. My soul was at peace among those treasured waters.

Fish were caught, but most importantly were the new memories and friendships made.

Words and photography by Western Rise Ambassador, Matt Shaw, @mattshawcreative.