UPDATE 2023: The traditional Trout Tournaments have been canceled since 2022, and currently we don’t know if they’ll come back. The City of Gatlinburg now hosts a one-day event on the first Saturday in April, fishing the many Gatlinburg waters – see our guide to What’s Happening in April.
Twice a year, in the spring and the fall, the Smoky Mountain region plays host to an acclaimed trout fishing tournament that offers fun – and lots of fish – for all the family, and for anglers of all skill levels. Here’s everything you need to know in order to join in the fun, in some of the best trout streams anywhere.
The Smoky Mountains offer an abundance of cool, clean, flowing rivers and streams throughout the mountains and valleys.
Each year, the spring tournament is held on the first full weekend of April, and the corresponding fall tournament takes place on the first full weekend of October. Both of these tend to be times when trout fishing in the Smokies is at its best, with cool but not cold water temperatures and just enough sunlight to keep the fish active.
Each year, tournament organizers stock over 10,000 trout throughout 20 miles of some of the best local trout streams, including West Prong Little Pigeon River, Roaring Fork, LeConte Creek and Dudley Creek.
One of the best things about this tournament is that all are welcome to participate, regardless of skill level. Beginners and children are especially welcome, and there are even streams set aside for children-only fishing. There’s a first prize for largest fish caught and an equal prize for smallest fish caught!
There are over $10,000 in prizes each year up for grabs, including cash prizes, gift cards, fishing gear, and more. Tournament fishing begins each day shortly before sunrise, and all weigh-ins take place at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge.
Keep in mind that anyone is eligible to register, but only registered participants are eligible to fish in the tournament. You can register in advance by going to the official tournament website hosted by Rocky Top Outfitters in Pigeon Forge, or you can register in person at Smoky Mountain Angler, 466 Brookside Village Way, on East Parkway in Gatlinburg’s Winery Square. Registration is also available by phone by calling 865-661-FISH.
All anglers are required to have a valid Tennessee fishing license on their person during the tournament, and there are separate licenses for locals and out-of-state visitors. See our requirements guide for a Fishing License for Gatlinburg and Tennessee, or to obtain a fishing license directly visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency website.
Some of the important rules to know for the tournament are that only single-hook lures are permitted with one hand-held rod, and there is a five fish limit per person. You can visit the official Trout Tournament webpage for a full list of the rules and regulations.
The tournament streams are located just a short drive from our Smoky Mountain cabins, so you can enjoy some peace and quiet in the wilderness while staying close to the fishing action. See our guides to Fly Fishing in the Smoky Mountains, Fishing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Fishing in Gatlinburg – Where to Go, What to Bring, so that you can make the most of your time in this angling paradise.
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