Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that parking passes for shuttle transportation to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont will be distributed this year via a lottery system. Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited to shuttle-service during the eight days of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the critical two-week mating period.
Back in the days when I pretty much lived on the creeks of the park, it was not unusual to make a half dozen fishing trips there and not see a soul. You were more likely to run up on skinner dippers than you were another fly fisherman. Things have really changed since 1970. Fishing pressure is greater than at any time in the past.
In those days I do not believe anyone guided, at least not on the Tennessee side of the park. STM is in the early stages of creating a fly fishing guide page. We started with North Carolina It’s tough to do a head count as some guide businesses there are one-man operations, but most are not. Some guide businesses have up to a couple dozen guide. My best guess is there is as many as 500 guides headquartered east of Stateline Ridge.
We at STM are all about enjoying fly fishing in the GSMNP, but I personally shutter at the thought of the popularity of these streams necessitating some like a lottery like is in effect for seeing the fireflies. Backcountry campsites have long needed to be reserved. During the Vietnam War my lottery number was a very uncool “21.” I wonder what my odds of being drawn to get access to Abrams Creek’s Horseshoe, say on Memorial Day?