Photos: A Solo Brook-Trout Journey in GSMNP


They do not grow large, but Southern Appalachian brookies are stunning.
Photos by Damon Bungard

Recent Trout Bum of the Week Damon Bungard sent in these great images from a recent hiking trip into Great Smoky Mountains National Park in western North Carolina in search of brook trout. As you can see, he found plenty of solitude, some beautiful rivers, and native trout sporting spawning colors.

Damon Bungard is the product manager at Jackson Kayak and the brand manager for Orion Coolers


At more than half a million acres, GSMNP offers plenty of great hikes and trout streams.

Damon hikes up a steep freestone stream.

This is 2-weight territory.

A beautiful native trout displays a wided range of colors.

A snug campsite in the rocks served as home base.

Floating lines only. . .

Another set of white-tipped fins comes to hand.

Hiking up these streams requires good balance and stamina. Less wading than rock-hopping.

7 thoughts on “Photos: A Solo Brook-Trout Journey in GSMNP”

  1. Maybe remove that last photo of the trail signs. I know this stream very well and it is an extraordinary place but does not need pressure from such a high profile posting. Without the trail signs it could be any of the great streams in GSMNP, but with that sign anyone can figure it out. Please help protect those very special places Orvis.

      1. Thanks Phil!
        Much appreciated, feel free to delete my comment if you want. I tried to find a way to email you directly but failed on that endeavor.

        Nice write up. Takes me back to some great times in GSMNP!

  2. That sign didn’t blow any cover in that streams protection. Almost every trickle of water that runs through those mountains hold fish…my gosh.

  3. I just don’t get it. Orvis is THE VOICE of flyfishing. Orvis post fishing reports on many of the greatest fishing places in America. These are not secrets. Orvis provides fishing information and one person does not like its removed. I personally would have preferred to see the signs. Nobody can make everybody happy. Not even Orvis.
    I would like to rewrite Jays post if i may…

    Please add more photos to your website like the last one with the signs. See, i don’t know this stream very well, as a matter of fact i don’t know it at all. I have never even been in the GSMNP before and i have a 4 day trip planned there (i seriously do) in December. And at just over 500,000 acres its a bit intimidating to say the least. 4 days is no where close to enough time so i need all the help i can get. I am gonna do my best to find an extraordinary little creek in the upper elevations for the mighty brook trout and i would greatly appreciate any help you could give. If anybody can help me i am sure its Orvis. Thanks for your time and consideration and thanks for everything you guys do at Orvis for the way of life so many of us love. The life of a fly fisherman.

    1. Jimmy call the shops and ask the locals and you will get within striking distance, you’ll get maps and fly recommendations, too. Brookings Anglers in Cashiers NC is a good place to begin. Wonderful shop and staff (and town – ask about the BBQ just down the street).

  4. I prefer it without the signs as well. Some of my best memories in western NC are obsessing over maps, burning gas, losing flies, eating BBQ, gulping coffee, getting skunked, and meeting rattlesnakes guarding the best brook trout stream I have ever found, and having the best day of fishing I’ve ever experienced. Getting there is half the fun, and you won’t be completely happy to have followed another man’s path. I understand everyone has been everywhere before me, but I do like to FEEL like I am finding something no one else has found from time to time.

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