WORLD-CLASS FISHING IN SEVIERVILLE, TENNESSEE
Bounty swims in the Smoky Mountains.
Add Sevierville, Tennessee to your list of best fishing spots—our waters need to be seen to be believed! Whether you’re searching for numbers or trophy-sized smallmouth bass, increase your odds of reeling in an impressive catch on our rivers, streams and lakes.
“There’s world-class fishing in our area,” says Greg Ward, author of Ultimate Fly-Fishing Guide to the Smoky Mountains. “Wild brook and rainbow trout can be caught at high elevation on the West and Middle Prongs of the Little Pigeon River. Downstream the rivers join to create the world renowned smallmouth bass waters of the Little Pigeon River in downtown Sevierville.”
“Tennessee is known for smallmouth bass—it holds the world record,” says Ward. “The Little Pigeon River is one of the best smallmouth streams in the world. Hands down, it’s one of the top five.” Yet Sevierville is not as well-known as other fishing destinations, which means odds are good that you can cast your line in uncrowded waters.
Populations explode during smallmouth bass migrations. “It’s unbelievable: 1,000 to one. It’s an abundance of fish,” says Ward. The spring spawning migration runs mid-March to mid-June, while the fall feeding migration takes place every September through November.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for 800 miles of pristine wild brook, brown and rainbow trout fishing. Waters are demanding with rugged terrain. “Clear water rapidly descends from a 6,000-foot elevation through boulder-strewn valleys,” says Ward. “Add in the fact that single hook artificial lures only can be used and these waters are a challenge for even the most experienced angler.”
Though smallmouth bass and walleye are often thought of as northern species, Tennessee holds the world record for both these species—it’s the southernmost range of naturally occurring wild populations. “Smallmouth bass and walleye have always been here, but average numbers of fish per river mile can increase or decrease considerably due to spawning migrations and fall runs to feed up for winter,” says Ward.
Smallmouth bass is catch and release in Sevier County, though each angler is able to keep one smallmouth bass measuring over 20 inches long. “This rule is in place not to deny someone a trophy, but nowadays molds are used and a photo is all you need,” says Ward. Each species has its own regulations and limits. “Most of our clients keep rainbow trout,” says Ward, who guides fishing trips. “They’re easy to clean and cook.”
The Little Pigeon River is considered a trophy smallmouth bass fishery. It is at lower elevation and gets a tad too warm to sustain trout during the warmer months. But that’s not the only reason to cast a line in Sevierville. Fishing is also excellent in Douglas Lake, a high mountain lake that is the headwaters for the Tennessee River. The 30,400-acre lake has 555 miles of shoreline and is best known for its bass and crappie fishing. Many major bass tournaments have been held on Douglas Lake including the B.A.S.S. Masters and Fishing League Worldwide. The lake has healthy populations of sauger, walleye, blue cat, flat head catfish, channel catfish and bluegill.
Smallmouth King Bass Tournament
June 3-4, 2023
Come join the fun and test your fishing skills in one of the South’s premier smallmouth bass tournaments! A limited number of anglers will compete to be crowned Sevierville’s Smallmouth King of the Smokies!
The Sevierville Chamber of Commerce is proud to present the third annual Smallmouth King Bass Tournament on June 3-4, 2023, in Sevierville, Tennessee. Anglers will test their skills on Sevierville’s world-class bass waters. The Little Pigeon River and its tributaries will be the site of this two-day event that allows anglers to fish from the shore, wading, or from a kayak.
Be a part of the area’s first smallmouth-bass-only, catch-photograph-release event. Sevierville’s waters will be teeming with thousands of migrating bass on their spring runs.
Winners will be determined by their two-day total length of smallmouth bass greater than 12 inches in length. Realtime tournament updates are sure to keep competitors and spectators alike on the edge of their seats as anglers register their catches. Prizes will be awarded to the top three anglers on the final day of competition.
Saturday, June 3
Mandatory Tournament Meeting 5:30 a.m. - 6:30 a.m.
(Check-in ends at 5:00 a.m.)
Sevierville Chamber of Commerce
110 Gary Wade Blvd., Sevierville, TN 37862
Tournament Begins- 7:00 a.m.
Last Line Out- 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 4
Tournament Begins- 6:00 a.m.
Tournament Ends- 2:00 p.m.
Awards Ceremony- 3:00 p.m.
Sevierville Chamber of Commerce
110 Gary Wade Blvd., Sevierville, TN 37862
Grand Prize- $1,000
2nd Place- $400
3rd Place- $200
Biggest Fish- $100
The entry fee is $50 for those who register by 12:00pm on Friday, June 2. After Friday, June 2, entry fee is $75. Registration closes at 5:30am on Saturday, June 3. Entry fee includes official Hawg Trough measuring device! For more information, visit SmallmouthKing.com.
Spring Fishing Report for Sevierville, Tennessee
Fishing Douglas Lake in the spring can yield a mixed bag. Smallmouth bass are showing up on this longtime hotspot for crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish. Muddy water is the norm as TVA fills this reservoir with spring runoff. Whether you fish from the bank or from a boat, anglers are often rewarded with a nice mess of crappie for the frying pan. We fish white and chartreuse crappie jigs tipped with minnows suspended from a float. Adjusting your depth can make the difference in a good or great day. Larger lures seem to produce larger bass as water temperatures rise. Use bright colors for more bites in the dingy water. Once full, the lake will settle. Fishing around the willows will produce crappie, bass, and bluegill. Many anglers experience their best days on the water as fish migrate to shallow waters to feed and spawn.
Area Streams and River
The French Broad River below Douglas Dam has long been the place to be for sauger, walleye, and crappie. Only experienced boaters should try these cold, turbulent waters. Fishing from shore can be just as productive. Bright colored jigs, grubs, and lures work great for this tasty and sought-after species. Be prepared to wrestle one of the many bald eagles and ospreys that call these waters home.
Little Pigeon River system
Anglers in the know flock to these waters every spring in search of trophy smallmouth bass. Granted, largemouth bass, spotted bass, and rainbow trout dwell in these waters too, but this is the home of the mighty bronze back. Smallmouth bass reign supreme here. The historic courthouse in downtown Sevierville becomes the backdrop in many pictures of happy anglers with the smallie of a lifetime. Topwaters, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and grubs will all work on these aggressive feeders. The best fighting fish in fresh water awaits the lucky angler who seeks the brown bass of the river.
Fishing regulations and license are on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency website at TN.gov/twra
Outdoors with Greg D. Ward
A current Tennessee fishing license is required to fish anywhere in Sevierville. Licenses are available online and at local bait shops and other retailers including Wal-Mart. Seasons and limits for trout and other species apply.