The Big Picture
I define “frontcountry” as any destination that is roadside or a very short distance from the vehicle. The biggest advantages to frontcountry fishing are ease of access and flexibility. More time will be spent on the water and we have the ability to move to multiple destinations. Most frontcountry destinations can be accessed within 30-minutes of Townsend or Gatlinburg. Most all half-day trips are frontcountry trips.
Type of Fishing
As mentioned above, frontcountry trips do allow the possibility for multiple destinations, whether they are on one river or multiple rivers. At the right time of year, you could spend the morning fishing low elevation streams for rainbows and browns and the afternoon in the high country fishing for brookies! I also tend to recommend frontcountry destinations during questionable weather – if the big river blows out due to heavy rain we can easily migrate to smaller water.
Access and Physical Demands
While frontcountry destinations are a little quicker and easier to get to, they are still very much Smoky Mountain streams. Access often involves going up or down moderately steep banks and stream bottoms are strewn with large rocks that can sometimes be slippery. If we will be by a road or within a fifteen minute walk from the car, I consider it frontcountry.
Best Times to Go
There can be fantastic fishing right by the road and many of these destinations have enough of a wooded “buffer” to put the sight of passing cars out of sight and out of mind. But inevitably, with easier access often comes more people and greater fishing pressure. Your frontcountry fishing experience will be far better if you try to avoid booking these trips at times of peak tourism.
What to Bring
I provide water and soft drinks on all guided trips, and full day trips also include a tasty streamside lunch. While it may vary slightly based on destination, rods in the 7 ½’ – 8 ½’ range for 3-5 weight lines are usually the best bet. Warmer months permit us to wet wade, wearing just felt sole boots and pants/shorts that you don’t mind getting wet. Full waders are preferred for colder months. Typically, “wet wading season” is from early May through early October.