Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide for Little River (East Prong) GSMNP
The East Prong of the Little River is usually just called “Little River”. It is the heaviest
fished stream in the park. There are two reasons for this. The first one is that the river
is followed by a paved road for several miles. It is one of the two major roads in the
park. The other reason is that it is a good stream to fish. There are plenty of both
rainbow and brown trout as well as brook trout in its headwaters.
Most of the river is fairly easy to wade and get around on. Some sections are right the
opposite or fairly difficult to negotiate. Most places have tree limbs extending well out
over the water and it's not exactly easy to cast just anywhere you would like to.
From the point the three prongs of this stream flow together at an area known
locally as the “Y”, the Little River becomes quite large in small stream terms. There's
only a short section of this main part of the stream thats within the park’s
boundaries. This part is better for smallmouth bass than trout. The water temperature
can be too warm for trout during much of the year. In fact, the water in Little River
upstream of the “Y” as far as the confluence of Meigs Creek becomes warmer than
that preferred by the trout during the summer. This is more true of the rainbow trout
than the brown trout that can tolerate the warmer water better than the browns.
There's a lot of very large, deep pools in this area. There's a section called the Little
River Gorge that is very difficult to get around in the lower section. It can be difficult to
wade in parts of this area. From Meigs Creek upstream to Metcalf Bottoms, it is still
possible for the water to get too warm during the warmer months of the year. The
better trout fishing is upstream of Metcalf Bottoms, although you can catch trout further
downstream during the cooler months. We don't suggest you try downstream of the
Sinks or the waterfall.
The trout fishing in the Metcalf Bottoms area can be good at the cooler times of the
year. It has a lot of aquatic insects that prefer the lower gradient found in this area.
The slower moving water and the available aquatic insects in this area usually requires
a much different strategy and fly presentation than the normal pocket water found in
From Metcalf Bottoms upstream to the next bridge, called Long Arm Bridge, the
stream will change from the smoother flows to fast, turbulent rapids. Normally this is a
good place to fish. Just be careful in this area. It contains some fast water and steep
One problem I should mention is that tubers and kyakers use this and all of the river
downstream of this area a lot. You may want to consider fishing early or late in the day
during the warmer months of the year.
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Little River Tennessee
(East Prong) GSMNP
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