As information and news with the current pandemic seems to change week to week and sometimes day to day, we will be updating this post accordingly. These are strange times for everyone and we will be conducting business a little differently for the time being. Fortunately, I am just one person so I have the ability to be flexible not only in adapting policies to the changing conditions, but to your specific needs should you decide to book a guided trip during this time. Listed below is the most current information I have to share. Scroll to the bottom for current social distancing guidelines for guide trips.
June 5th, 2020 Update: Phase 3 of Park Opening to Begin on June 7th
Visitor centers are scheduled to open on Monday, June 8th. Most campgrounds will be opening at that time as well. The only notable exception is Elkmont, which is scheduled to reopen on June 15th. For a complete, specific listing of openings check the park website.
May 19th, 2020 Update: Phase 2 of Park Opening to Begin This Weekend
Today, the park reopened Clingman’s Dome Road and this Saturday, the 23rd, they will begin Phase 2 of the reopening process. This will include all trails and many of the secondary roads. So now, anglers will have realistic access to places like Tremont, Big Creek, Greenbrier, etc. Some picnic facilities will open but campgrounds and visitor centers will remain closed. Those are projected to open no earlier than June 7th.
Probably the biggest thorn still remaining in the side of fishermen is the road to Elkmont. Until that road opens, which apparently won’t happen before June 7th, it will be very difficult to access the upper portions of Little River and Jakes Creek. But we have access to WAY more water than we did!
May 1st, 2020 Update: New Park Info and Recommendations for Guide Trips
I’ve received a little more clarification on what roads will and will not be open. Pretty much none of the secondary roads will open on May 9th which means there are a lot of spots, particularly trailheads for backcountry locations, we’re not going to be able to get to. It also means that few spots we can get to will likely be pretty crowded.
If you are currently booked for a trip in the mid to latter part of May or considering a booking for that time, I would still recommend a destination like Cherokee National Forest if it works for you. Of course, I can take you to the park after May 9th, but I think it will be first of June before things really get back to normal there. Please feel free to call or email to discuss.
April 30th, 2020 – 2nd Update
Great Smoky Mountains National Park just announced that they will begin a phased reopening of the park beginning May 9th. Phase 1 will include the opening of major roads and restrooms but not campgrounds, visitor centers or secondary roads. They hope to begin opening those facilities, secondary roads, etc. approximately two week later.
At this time, I am still unclear which “secondary” roads will open during the initial phase and which will not. But it appears that we will be able to access at least most of the places we normally fish.
April 30th, 2020
While there has still been no official word from the park service on a reopening date for GSMNP, it seems highly unlikely that we will see a May 1st reopening. This is purely speculation on my part, but I think we’ll see some sort of limited, phased in type of opening when it does happen. Exactly what that would look like I don’t know and exactly when that will happen I don’t know – hopefully in the next couple of weeks. I will update this post as soon as I receive any official word.
April 27th, 2020
As of the week of 4/27/20, the state of Tennessee is phasing in business openings while still requiring social distancing practices. This means out of town customers wanting to come fish the area should be seeing more lodging availability in the coming days and weeks.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where I conduct most of my guide operations is currently closed. The last official correspondence I received from the park said the park would be closed until 4/30/20. On the park’s website, it states only that the park is closed until further notice. Hopefully we will receive and update this week – I will post it here as soon as I know more.
In the meantime, I will be conducting guided trips to other destinations on a limited basis. If you’re interested in one of these trips, I recommend calling at 865-607-2886 or emailing me directly to discuss. Social distancing guidelines will be adhered to on all trips and are pretty easy to follow on the stream. But there will be a few changes to the logistical side of the trip that we will be following from now until further notice.
- While we may still meet at a convenient location, clients will need to follow in their own vehicle to the stream or trailhead.
- Clients are encouraged to bring their own rods and wading gear. If needed, you may still use mine at your own risk. I will be cleaning any loaner rods and wading gear before and after each use.
- I am still happy to provide lunches for full day trips and assure you that the prep and packaging process will strictly follow all necessary guidelines. However, I realize this may make many uncomfortable and you are more than welcome to bring your own food without fear of offending me! Just please let me know with as much notice as possible.
- I will be practicing social distancing guidelines on the stream and washing my hands throughout the day. I would ask all clients to please do the same.
- You are encouraged to bring hand sanitizer along to regularly wash hands. I will try to provide it but it’s a little hard to come by right now!
- Health and safety take precedence over service and profit right now. If I do not feel healthy and well, for your safety, I will cancel the trip. I expect all clients to to the same.
The bottom line is we still want to go fishing, right?! But we want to be safe and responsible in the process. If there is anything else I can do to accommodate or make your trip more comfortable, please let me know.