8 REASONS TO LOVE FISHING IN SEVIERVILLE, TN
By Taryn Shorr
As someone who grew up in the West and learned to fly fish on rivers in Montana and Wyoming, I was skeptical the first time I heard that Sevierville, Tennessee is a renowned fishing destination. Fast-forward a handful of seasons—after I’ve had the opportunity to don a pair of waders and stand, rod in hand, in the shimmering, shallow streams running through the Great Smoky Mountains—and these days I’m the one convincing people to go fishing in Sevierville. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll reel in far more than your usual catch.
For fishing possibilities as vast and impressive as the Smokies themselves, head to Sevierville. Though the town may be best known for its proximity to the national park , as Dolly Parton’s hometown , and for its dozens of family attractions, it’s also an angler’s paradise. Here, you can cast your line into waters with abundant fish and, often, you’re blissfully alone.
Whether you’re a life-long fishing enthusiast looking to beat your personal best or you’re a more casual angler simply wanting to wet your line in the mountains, here are eight reasons to tackle fishing in Sevierville.
1. Smallmouth Bass Haven
Sevierville is renowned for its trophy smallmouth bass, making it a dream destination for anglers who want to hone or test their skills. Although they typically live much further north, the region’s deep, cool, and clear waters create the perfect habitat for these challenging game fish. At the same time, the relatively mild climate offers a longer-than-average growing season, resulting in bigger-than-average smallies.
2. Opportunities to Catch Other Fish
Smallmouth bass may be the big draw, but Sevierville’s waters are also home to several other coveted fish species. Depending on where you fish (more on that in a minute!), you may reel in rainbow or brook trout, bluegill, catfish, crappie, or walleye, among others. Walleye, like smallmouths, are typically northern fish, but they thrive in the deep, gently flowing bodies of water found throughout the Smokies.
3. An Abundance of Water In fishing as with many things in life: the more options, the better! Sevierville doesn’t disappoint, with an impressive offering of lakes, rivers, and streams, each one catering to various fish and anglers. Whether you prefer the tranquility of a secluded mountain stream, the wide-open expanse of shimmering Douglas Lake, or a river’s ever-changing currents, you’ll find it all here. In fact, the “variety of fishing grounds” without even leaving the city earned Sevierville a mention on Fishing Booker’s 2022 list of best fall fishing destinations .
4. Douglas Lake
Sure, it counts as a body of water, but Douglas Lake is enough of a reason to fish in Sevierville that it warrants emphasis. This naturally gorgeous, huge reservoir has 550 miles of shoreline and depths up to 140 feet, plus a variety of coves and muddy, shallow pockets. You can also break up the day with paddleboarding or jet skiing, and rentals are available around the lake.
5. Cast a Line However You Wish
Like its diversity in bodies of water, Sevierville offers the opportunity to go fly fishing or fish with a rod and reel. In many other places, you generally see one or the other. By contrast, here, you’ll see both in the same area. Similarly, where you may have seen fly fishermen primarily going after trout elsewhere, plenty of fly rods bring smallies out of the water in Sevierville.
6. Public Access
Accessibility is key and Sevierville offers plenty. The section of the Little Pigeon River running through town is widely regarded as one of the best places to fish smallmouth in the whole area, and it’s easily accessible from several points. Head to Sevierville City Park, where many people catch their personal bests. Bank fishing at both Douglas Lake and the French Broad River are also popular.
7. Local Expertise
For fishing enthusiasts unfamiliar with our waters or who simply don’t want to navigate public access points on their own, Sevierville has local guides eager to teach. The Smoky Mountain Angler can provide invaluable current fishing reports, drift boat and gear rentals, and even fly-tying classes, in addition to guiding half- and full-day trips.
8. Year-round Fishing
In Sevierville, fishing isn’t limited to one specific season. The diverse climate and bodies of water in the Smokies mean you can cast your line all year. There are two notable smallmouth bass migrations each year, one for spawning in the spring and the other for feeding come fall. Each summer Sevierville hosts the annual Smallmouth King Bass Tournament on the Little Pigeon River. Winter means big trout in the Smokies as it’s when trout spawn here; the usually nocturnal fish also change their feeding habits, searching for food during the day.
Things to Know About Fishing in Sevierville
•A valid Tennessee fishing license is required for everyone over age 13. Before heading out, check Tennessee Wildlife Fishing Regulations to learn about license options, catch limits, hook restrictions, and other important guidelines.
• Smallmouth bass are catch-and-release, although it is possible to keep one fish measuring over 20 inches.
• Trout fishing carries separate regulations (and a supplemental license), so consider chatting with an expert at Tennessee Wildlife or stopping by a local fishing outfit such as Orvis.
•State fishing licenses are honored throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
• Marinas at Douglas Lake offer boat and gear rentals, so out-of-town visitors can simply show up and fish.
Taryn Shorr is a freelance writer and the founder of adventure travel blog Chasing Trail.
When the stories start with, "I had the best time ever...," you know you've visited Sevierville, Tennessee.
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