WORLD-CLASS FISHING IN SEVIERVILLE, TENNESSEE
Bounty swims in the Smoky Mountains. New Smallmouth King Bass Tournament will crown one angler
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.
NEW Smallmouth King Bass Tournament
May 10-12, 2019
For the first time ever, Sevierville, Tennessee will host a smallmouth bass fishing competition. The inaugural Smallmouth King Bass Tournament, planned as an annual event, is set for May 11-12, 2019, in Sevierville, Tennessee. Anglers of all ages can compete for the crown and lifelong bragging rights as the first winner of this new catch, photo, release (CPR) challenge.
In CPR tournaments, length rather than weight is the basis for scoring. With this eco-friendly, fish population-saving approach, each smallmouth bass that’s caught and measures 12-inches and larger is photographed on an approved measuring board using a smartphone.
Each eligible fish caught between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on each day is included in competitors’ totals during the Smallmouth King Bass Tournament. Only artificial lures will be allowed (no live bait). The angler with the greatest total length will win. First, second and third place winners will receive prizes.
Official measuring devices and other details will be provided during a registration meeting on May 10th.
The entry fee is $100. For more details and entry application, visit Smallmouth Bass King Tournament
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.