September Fishing Forecast

Smoky Mountain Brook Trout
A nice highcountry brook trout

Smoky Mountains

We had a better than usual August in the Smokies. Fairly regular rainfall kept water levels respectable and other than a few spells, it was relatively mild. Streams are beginning to get low again though and September is typically a very dry month here unless we pick up some hurricane remnants. The current beast, Dorian, is not showing signs of tracking this direction, so prepare yourself for low water and spooky fish.

I would expect to see mostly warm, summer type conditions for the first half of the month with a gradual cooling toward the middle of the month. There aren’t many hatches to speak of in September. Caddis are always a good possibility and Isonychias are active, but that’s more important as a nymph. Terrestrials are still probably the main course for the next month or so.

Clinch River

The Clinch has been a tough one this year. Flows have not been very friendly to the wade fisherman, at least with any predictability. If you live nearby and have a flexible work schedule, you’ve probably found some mornings to fish. Hopefully, we’ll see some more consistency in September.

If so, you’ll likely see better water in the morning and early afternoon. Don’t expect to see much in the way of hatches except for midges. I’d tie on a dark Zebra Midge as small as you dare to go!

Thunderhead Prong

Location: GSMNP East Tennessee                                                              

Nearest Town: Townsend, TN

Species: Rainbow trout (maybe a very rare brown or brook trout)                                     

Average Size: 6-8”

Stream Size: Moderate                                           

Pressure: Light

Type of Water: Freestone, Mountain                                                          

Boat Access: None

Best Times: Spring through late fall                                                             

Favorite Flies: Attractor dries

Nearest Fly Shop:    Little River Outfitter – Townsend                                                    


From Townsend, travel southeast on 73 to GSMNP entrance.  At the “Y” in the road, turn right on Laurel Creek Road (toward Cades Cove).  Take your first left (toward Tremont Institute).  This road will follow the Middle Prong of Little River for approximately five miles.  The first two miles (to Tremont) are paved and the three miles above Tremont are gravel.  The road comes to an end at a large parking area, located where Lynn Camp Prong and Thunderhead Prong converge to form the Middle Prong of Little River.  From the parking area, cross the bridge and take the trail on the right.  It is unmarked and does not appear on maps, but remains fairly clear due to frequent foot traffic. 

The trail follows Thunderhead for probably a mile or better, just beyond where Sam’s Creek enters the stream, before coming to an abrupt halt.  From this point you will have to make your way through the stream and by bank when available.  Of course you will have to return the same way.  All and all, there is probably a little more than four miles of Thunderhead to be fished.