Smallmouth Bass in the Park

Fisheries biologist holding a smallmouth bass

NPS Photo

 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,900 miles of streams within its boundaries. Approximately 600 miles of stream contains fish, providing for an abundance of angling opportunities from high elevation trout streams to cool water low elevation streams.

Rainbow trout, brown trout, and the native brook trout are the fish that are primarily targeted by fisherman inside the park. However, the streams of the Great Smoky Mountains do offer other angling opportunities. Smallmouth bass are another native game fish species that can be found in a number of the large lower elevation streams in the national park.

Smallmouth bass prefer streams with rocky bottoms, root wads, woody debris, and boulders, and generally occupy areas with deep pools and slow moving currents where they feed primarily on crayfish, as well as insects and other fish. Smallmouth can be found in the first few miles of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, as well as in the first 0.5 -1.0 mile of a few streams flowing into Fontana Lake near the park boundary (i.e., Eagle Creek, Hazel Creek, Noland Creek).

 
Small Mouth Bass Streams
 

The best park streams for smallmouth fishing include East Prong of Little River from where it enters the park near Townsend to the Sinks and Abrams Creek from its embayment with Chilhowee Reservoir to Abrams Falls. Sampling conducted on Little River and Abrams Creek in 2002 and 2003 has shown the majority of fish range from 7 to the 10 inches, with some recorded up to 14 inches. However, smallmouth as large as 2-3 pounds are commonly reported being caught by anglers in the park. Abrams Creek has a high number of smallmouth bass that are rarely fished due to how difficult it is to access. Little River does not support as high densities of smallmouth bass as Abrams Creek, but does offer road access along Little River Road.

Current regulations allow for a daily possession limit of 5 smallmouth bass of at least 7 inches in length. Only artificial flies or lures with a single hook may be used. Additional information on smallmouth bass in the state of Tennessee is provided by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency at http://www.tn.gov/twra/fish/SMBPLAN/SMBPLAN%20final.pdf

Report by Brandon Simcox, Fisheries Technician, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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