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Steve Bryson

  • Company Website

Guide at a Glance

  • Company

    Tellico Angler

  • Locations

    Reliance, Tellico Plains, Tennessee, United States

  • Activities


  • Guiding Experience

    12 years

  • Languages


  • Favorite Trip

    Hiwassee River Float Trip

Guide Bio

Get To Know Fishing Guide Steve Bryson

Steve Bryson has been fishing for about 35 years and guiding fishing tours since 2005 with his company, Tellico Angler, in East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and North Georgia. He can give you tips on what to look for in a fly and how to fish the ever-changing tailwaters in the area, as well as showing you his favourite spot, the Hiwassee River, the first river managed in the Tennessee Scenic River program for conservation.
How did you get into being a fishing guide? How did you make the transition to becoming a fishing guide?

I started working at a fly shop in 2005, part time, and it just evolved from that. I left the fly shop and continued on my own and got my Forest Service permits to guide in the US Forest Service’s property – and that’s when I started my guide service business.

The knowledge base that I had at the fly shop, and seeing the demand, made me realise that I wanted to work as a fishing guide. It was a good part-time job on the side and pretty good money so I just started doing that and everything evolved into owning my own business and continuing on for the last 10 years.

I started fishing when I was a kid. Most kids around here fish, some of them stick with it, some don’t. My dad took me fishing and it just stuck with me and I’ve done it my whole life. As a matter of fact, I’m just coming back from fishing on my own now, so I fish either on my own or as a job, and I still get enjoyment out of it.

What does a typical tour day look like for you?

I meet the clients at a pre-determined location, usually early in the morning. We’ll meet and drive to the fishing location together and if it’s a drift boat trip, then we’ll put the boat in and float downstream to the take-out and to their vehicle. If it’s a wading trip, then we’ll just go along the river, wade fishing as we go, for either a half day or a full day – however long a time they have purchased. A half day would go to about 2 pm and a full day to about 6 pm.

Have you got a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?

Most of it’s fly fishing. As far as the instructional side of things, I find a lot of my clients are wanting instruction throughout the day so some of it is instructional, some of it is letting them fish on their own as I row the boat – or pretty much whatever they’re looking to do. I let them determine the route that they’re wanting to take, and I just fall in and help them however I can.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part would be teaching people, enhancing their skills in fly fishing or just seeing the enjoyment that they get from fishing if they’re new to it.

What’s a secret or tip to catching a fish with fly fishing?

Probably just to get a good drag-free drift on the fly and to keep the flies moving naturally on the water.

What’s the key to a good day of fishing?

A good day is just having clients that are easy going, we get along well, obviously catching fish, and just having a good time whether we’re catching fish or not. Just a low key, enjoyable day.

What is your favourite spot and why?

The Hiwassee River is my favourite spot because it’s good fishing and it’s one of my only float trips that I do in a boat, and I enjoy that. It’s actually the States’ first scenic river designation.

Do your tie your own flies? What’s the key to a good fly or what should people look out for when buying a fly?

I tie a lot of them, not all of them. People need to look to make sure the fly is a good indication of what they’re trying to imitate, meaning the proportions of the fly are true to the way the natural flies are, and anything else from size and colour. The key to it is to keep everything as natural as possible.

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?

I would say bad weather days. I don’t like fishing on really windy days because it just makes everything harder, especially if you have people that are relatively new to fishing. It’s hard for them to cast and hard for them to fish in the strong wind.

As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain to our readers what the benefits of hiring a guide are?

We’re familiar with the local waters, we fish them all the time so we’re up to speed on what the fish are eating, how to catch them at a specific time. For instance, the tailwaters, the dam controlled rivers, we know the release schedules and when we can safely fish. Overall, the benefits are the guide just knowing the area and being familiar with how to catch a fish.

Tell us something about fishing in Tennessee that only a guide would know?

I would say how to fish the different tailwaters – how the water generation schedules affect the fishing and how the fish react to the rising and lowering of the waters.

In your view, what makes a good tour guide?

I think 80% of it is personality and 20% is just pure fishing knowledge. No matter if you’re the best fisherman in the world, if people don’t want to be around you, you’re not going to have a good time.

If you liked this, you might also enjoy Fly Fishermen, Prepare To Be Dissed.


Steve Bryson is our Owner and Head Guide. He enjoys fishing the small streams and tailwaters of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and North Georgia. He has logged many hours stalking wild trout and chasing smallmouth bass with a fly rod.

Steve has been a guide since 2005. He is a licensed U.S. Forest Service Guide Permit Holder, Certified Flight Paramedic, and CPR certified. His credentials alone assure you will be well taken care of while on your tour. He personally books all of our guided trips and teaches our fly fishing classes. He is excited to share his experiences with you, by taking you to the fishing hot spots and giving you the best opportunity to catch a fish. He will show you some of the most beautiful locations in all of East Tennessee, some of which are postcard-worthy.

Steve looks forward to getting to know you and helping you achieve your fishing dreams.

Tellico Angler

Steve Bryson is the owner and operator of Tellico Angler, a professional outfitter and guide service based in Tellico Plains, TN. We are located in the heart of some of the best fishing that East TN has to offer. We specialize in guiding fishermen for trout, smallmouth and striper. We are a fly fishing guide service, but we realize that not everyone is interested in this type of fishing. Therefore, we also offer all of our trip options to those that prefer using spin fishing equipment. Either way is fine with us, we just want you to enjoy your special day on the water.

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