Rivers We Fish
East Tennessee is blessed with many rivers and streams that contain hard fighting smallies. The majority of my trips take place on the tailrace section of the French Broad River downstream from Douglas Dam. During the months of March, April, and May the bulk of my fishing trips occur on the Little Pigeon River in Sevierville. There is a run of smallies from the French Broad that migrate up the Little Pigeon to spawn. It can be some of the best fishing of the year especially for trophy smallmouths over twenty inches.The boat ramps that we leave from for both rivers are close to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Knoxville.
French Broad River
The French Broad River flows for 218 miles from Transylvania County, North Carolina to its confluence with the Holston River in Knoxville, Tennessee to form the Tennessee River. The section we target is the tailwater fishery downstream from Douglas Dam near Sevierville, TN. This stretch of water contains some extremely large smallmouth as well as numbers of quality fish. If you are looking to catch a river smallie over twenty inches in East Tennessee then this is one of the best waters in which to do so. This diverse fishery contains a healthy population of largemouth bass, white bass, hybrids, stripers, walleyes, sauger, and catfish.
Little Pigeon River
The Little Pigeon River is located entirely within Sevier County, Tennessee and originates from a series of streams that are found along the northern slope of the Great Smoky Mountains. The river is composed of the East, West, and Middle Prongs. During the months of March, April, and May there is a spawning run of smallmouths that move from the French Broad River into the lower Little Pigeon and further upstream into the respective tributaries. Some of the biggest smallmouth in East Tennessee make this run and sometimes in large numbers. The Little Pigeon River from the mouth upstream to the Great Smoky Mountains boundary and including the West Prong and and East Fork of the Little Pigeon River are managed as a trophy smallmouth fishery. Only one smallmouth at a minimum length of 20 inches can be kept per day.
I encourage my clients to release all smallmouth and largemouth bass. If you want to keep a trophy I suggest you consider getting a replica made of your fish. There are taxidermists when given the proper measurements and a quality photograph that can create an excellent reproduction of your safely released trophy. All other species of fish that are caught may be kept as long as the client adheres to the rules and regulations that are described in the Tennessee Fishing Guide 2021-22.