Lynn Camp Prong is a cascading brook trout stream located in the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the early 2000’s the stream was closed to fishing while biologists removed non-native fish and reintroduced native brook trout to the stream. After a years-long restoration effort that even included a struggle against sabotage, Lynn Camp Prong is now home to a thriving population of native brookies that provide great fishing. While rainbow trout and brown trout can be found in other parts of the park, you shouldn’t run into them here. The steep Lynn Camp Cascade Prong Cascade prevents fish from my migrating into Lynn Camp from other waters.
While Lynn Camp Prong provides some of the best brook trout fishing in the area, it is also easily accessible. The stream is just a short drive from Townsend Tennessee. There is a large parking lot at the trail head where the stream joins Thunderhead Prong to form the Middle Prong of the Little River. A wide trail follows Lynn Camp Prong from the parking lot up to Lynn Camp Falls about 3 miles upstream. Fishing is still quite possible above Lynn Camp Falls. But at that point you have to walk along the water.
I caught this brook trout in Lynn Camp Prong
Although Lynn Camp Prong is close to town and easily accessible it does not receive a ton of fishing pressure. You may run into other anglers from time to time. But it’s also quite possible to have long stretches of the stream all to yourself. The creek and its surrounding are absolutely beauty. That alone draws many visitors and hikers. But the number that actually come down to the water and fish is a lot lower.
Fishing in Lynn Camp Prong can be from good to great, especially if you like to watch eager wild trout smash dry flies on the surface. Sure there are off days, but generally speaking this is a great place to fish. In this part of the brook trout’s native range, a 10 inch fish is considered a trophy. There are 10 in brook trout in Lynn Camp Prong. There are also fish longer than that. I’ve caught enough to know. There are also innumerable smaller fish which are just as beautiful.
Fishing in Lynn Camp Prong
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Brook trout fishing in Lynn Camp Prong starts above the Cascades, which are about a mile and a half from the trailhead. From there on up you can get into brook trout. The main thing to remember is that these are wild and weary fish. Wear naturally colored clothes to blend in with the surrounding. Conceal yourself by hunching over or staying close to trees and rocks. Stay out the view of the fish. If you can do that you have a good chance at catching a lot of fish.
A standard five weight rod will work here, but you can go a lot smaller. A two or three weight rod that is 6 or 7 feet long is perfect. Use floating line and a 7 foot leader with 4-6x tippet. I normally use a 7 foot three weight rod with 5x tippet here. You fish a lot of smaller pools and the edges of larger pools, and there’s not a ton of room for backcasting. So you want to avoid using a leader that is too long. This is Appalachian Mountains fishing, where the bow-and-arrow cast and other tight quarters tactics are vital.
A nice Lynn Camp Prong brookie
In terms of flies, a lot of different patterns will work. The fish here are opportunist feeders that won’t normally pass up on an easy meal. If you can dead drift a dry fly there’s a good chance the fish will hammer it. You can match the hatch if you run into one, but most days a yellow dry fly in size 12-16 like a Yellow Humpy or Neversink Caddis will work fine. Tie a 2-3 foot section of 6x tippet to the bend of your dry fly hook. Then attach a size 16 nymph like a pheasant tail or green weenie to the other end. This will double your chances and increase your hookups.
On colder days when the water temperature is down below 45 degrees, you may be better off forgoing the dry fly and fishing two weighed nymphs instead. Then again, on days like that you’d likely be better off to fish lower elevation streams like the Middle Prong below or even the main stem of the Little River up around the sinks.
Spin fishing is possible here if you know what you are doing. Utilizing downsized spinning rods specially designed for this sort of close quarters fishing in skinny water can be effective. The smallest spinners can work. Though a jig or nymph fished below a float will probably catch more fish overall.
Lynn Camp Prong Fishing Regulations
Lynn Camp and a few other streams were closed for a few years for fish management purposes. Brook trout fishing was completely closed from 1976 until 2006. Now all the waters in the park are open to fishing again. The Smokies supports a robust population of wild trout. Let’s keep it that way.
Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open year round. Every stream is open to fishing from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. You do need a fishing license from either North Carolina or Tennessee to fish. A valid license from either state allows you to fish anywhere in the park.
Fishing must be done with a single rod. You can only use flies and artificial lures with single hooks. You can use one artificial lure or up to two flies tied in tandem on a dropper rig at a time. You cannot use or possess any baits, scents, or treble hooks.
The limit on trout and smallmouth bass is 5 fish combined. You can keep up to 5 fish per day, but you cannot possess more than 5 fish at a time. So eat the 5 fish you have before you keep any more. The minimum size on trout and smallmouth bass is 7 inches. There’s no minimum size on rock bass.
To the best of my knowledge, this is accurate as of the time of writing. Of course regulations are subject to change. For current regulations be sure to check the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.