Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost
The Big Picture
Backcountry trips take you into the heart of the Smoky Mountains, away from roadside traffic and where far fewer anglers tread. I define backcountry as any location that will not permit quick or immediate access to the truck. This could be a destination requiring more than a mile hike to reach, or possibly a long gorge that cannot be exited until reaching the other end. Because of travel time, these trips are only available as full days.
Type of Fishing
The beauty of the backcountry trip is that it puts you in more remote areas of the park. Far fewer people fish here and quiet and solitude rule the day. Typically, a backcountry trip will be on a mid to high elevation stream that is small to medium in size. As with most destinations in the Smokies, dry fly fishing is almost always a possibility. Depending on destination, fish will typically fall in the 6-12” range. Pocket water will likely be the norm with intermittent large pools along the way.
Access and Physical Demand
As with all streams in the Smokies, wading on sometimes slippery and uneven bottoms will be the norm. There are numerous backcountry options available from short, moderate hikes to longer, more strenuous journeys. For your safety, I reserve some of the very strenuous or very remote destinations for folks who I have guided before so that I have an accurate assessment of physical capabilities. Some backcountry destinations require little to no hiking at all but may require stream travel through a remote gorge that does not allow for exit until reaching the other end.
Best Times to Go
While there are always exceptions, the best times to fish the backcountry are between late April and mid October. The only time in that window where it just doesn’t make sense to venture into the backcountry is during times of questionable weather or stream conditions.
What to Bring
As with all of my full day guided trips, I will provide a tasty streamside lunch but we will need to carry it with us. Anglers on backcountry trips should expect to wear a small daypack capable of carrying lunch and bottled water*. Otherwise, I recommend rods in the 7 ½’ – 8 ½’ range for 3-5 weight line. Warmer months permit us to wet wade, wearing just felt sole boots and pants/shorts that you don’t mind getting wet. I recommend full waders for colder months. Typically, “wet wading season” is from early May through early October.
*In an effort to reduce single use plastics, I do not provide water in disposable bottles. I encourage you to bring your own water in a reusable bottle or bladder. However, if needed, I will have water in reusable aluminum bottles available for you.