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I can clearly remember going to East Tennessee with my parents when I was a kid, and we had to stop at several nice fishing areas along the way between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg so my Dad could get out his waders and fly fishing gear.
I never really understood the appeal of fishing for him back then, because as a kid I just wanted to get to the fun stuff, but now that I’m grown, I totally see the appeal of enjoying nature and fishing for trout.
If you’re looking for an amazing fly fishing experience, look no further than Gatlinburg, TN. With over 2000 miles of streams to choose from, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fisherman’s paradise.
There are several companies in the area who offer guided fly fishing trips, so finding the right one for you is easy. This article will help you decide which fly fishing tour is best for you, whether you want a full day or half day, or whether you have your own gear or not.
We’ve also included some great options for families and kids, so everyone can enjoy a day out on the water.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your fishing rod and tackle box and head to Gatlinburg for an unforgettable fly fishing experience.
What Kind of Fishing is There in Gatlinburg, TN?
When most people come to the Great Smoky Mountains to fish, they are thinking of trout.
You can find rainbow trout and brown trout in these waters, although the Appalachian brook trout is the only native species.
You can also find smallmouth bass and rock bass, as well as catfish in the area.
Most people choose to fly fish the Little Pigeon River for trout. If you’re not an experienced fly fisherman, don’t worry. There are several companies in the area that offer guided fly fishing trips. These guides will teach you everything you need to know about fly fishing, from casting to choosing the right fly.
What Type of License Do I Need to Fly Fish in Gatlinburg?
Inside the city limits
Where to get a license: You can get a license at Gatlinburg’s city hall, Spur Welcome Center or online at Go Outdoors Tennessee.
Who needs a license? Anyone over the age of 12.
Type of license needed: Gatlinburg one day trout permit OR a combination of several licenses if you are a non resident, which you can view here. If you are a resident of TN, you can purchase the one day trout permit or a combination of annual licenses.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Surrounding Areas
Where to get a license: Nearby towns surrounding the park or online.
Who needs a license? Anyone 13 and older for the Tennessee fishing license and 16 and older for the North Carolina fishing license.
Type of license needed: A valid TN or NC license. No trout stamp is needed to fish in the park.
Insider’s Tip: There are different license requirements if you wish to fish on the Cherokee reservation. To do this you will need to obtain a Tribal permit.
Fishing Regulations in Gatlinburg
There are some general regulations in the city of Gatlinburg that apply to everyone fishing within the Gatlinburg city limits:
You can fish during daylight hours only, which includes 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.
You can have one hand-held rod with a single hook, no multiple hooks.
Gatlinburg closes its streams every Thursday to stock them, so don’t plan on fishing in the city limits on Thursdays.
Fishing is allowed year round, but from December 1-March 31 it is catch and release only.
During open season (April 1-November 30), you can catch 5 trout per person on General Streams and 2 trout per person on Children’s Streams (12 and under). There is no size limit and any type of bait may be used during open season in the city’s beautiful trout streams.
Fly Fishing Guides and Tours in Gatlinburg
While you don’t need a guide to take you fly fishing on a Gatlinburg fishing trip or in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, if you’re new to fly fishing or don’t have the gear, it’s a great option. These guys know the best places and the best times to find wild trout so you have a great time on your fishing excursion.
You can fly fish in any stream in the National Park, just make sure you have a valid fishing license. However, for the best experience, it’s best to get a guide unless you are an experienced angler with all your own necessary gear.
Here are the best fly fishing guides in Gatlinburg:
The Smoky Mountain Angler
This is the oldest fly shop in Gatlinburg, touted as Gatlinburg’s fly fishing headquarters. They are also the oldest authorized fishing guide service for the National Park.
What they offer: Guided tours, rental equipment, fly fishing gear in their shop, driftboat rental, fly fishing classes, and they even offer other adventures, so be sure to check them out!
Types of Tours: Half day (4 hours) and full day (7.5 hours) are available for parties up to 3 people. All gear is provided in the price of the trip, so the only other thing you will need is a fishing license. Lunches are provided on full day float trips.
Fly Fishing the Smokies
Named 2022’s Fly Fishing Outfitter of the Year, there are two locations of Fly Fishing the Smokies in the area, and the Outfitter is in Gatlinburg. This outfitter has won multiple awards and offers something for everyone, but please note that their trips are all strictly catch and release.
What They Offer: Guided trips, beginner classes, fly fishing instruction and gear. There are even special offerings for kids, which is a great experience for the entire family to spend quality time together.
Types of Tours: Go on a guided trip for as little as two hours or on a multi-day backpacking adventure! They offer private all inclusive Wade Trips and Drift Boat Trips. Your choice of 2hr Fun Trip, Half Day, and Full Day Trips. Even overnight and multi-day backpacking excursions.
Common Questions about Fishing Trips Gatlinburg TN
Yes! You will need a special license for the city, but the city runs a trout farm to stock its streams and offers excellent fishing. There are General Streams and Children’s Streams, so be sure to check on the area you plan to fish.
As of June 2022, a one-day fishing license for Gatlinburg (ages 13 and up) is $11.50, so it’s not expensive to fish for a day in the city limits. If you are headed to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to fish, you could spend anywhere from $20-99 depending upon what type of license you select and how long it’s valid.
FInal Thoughts on Fishing Trips in Gatlinburg
I hope you find as much enjoyment fishing in a beautiful trout stream as my Dad always has. He hasn’t fly fished in a while, but after reading this I think I’ll take him on another adventure. I’m sure my boys would love it.
Itching for another type of adventure? Why not try Gatlinburg paintball!