08/16/13

Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
Hatching:
1.     Slate Drakes
2.     Little Yellow Stoneflies (Summer Stones)
3.     Needle Stoneflies
4.     Mahogany Duns
5.     Little Yellow Quills
Most available - Other types of food:
6.     Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
7.      Inch Worms
8.     Grasshoppers
9.     Ants
10.   Beetles
11.   Craneflies
10.   Beetles



More Brook Trout Streams #5
Raven Fork
Of all the serious anglers that fish the Smokies that I have had the privilege to talk
to, there's one thing they all seem to agree on. They will all tell you they think the
Raven Fork is the best brook trout stream in the Smokies. Now don't get this wrong,
they all have other places they consider their personal choice to fish but it's not
because they don't think the Raven Fork has more, larger brook trout than any
stream in the park. It's for other reasons. I know that one reason the "plenty of big
brook trout story" is true is the fact the Raven Fork is the largest pure brook trout
stream in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There's just more water and more
food for the brook trout. It's also very well protected and by that I mean it's difficult
enough to get to keep most anglers away from it. Even when the anglers that do
fish it get there, they are limited to basically only one general area and that's the
one and only point a trail crosses the stream. Below that point is considered one of
the roughest, most difficult to access areas in the park. The stream flows through a
canyon or gorge.

I have talked to some local Cherokee residents that have lived near the stream
where it exits the park their entire life. They have all told me at one point or
another, they have ventured into the gorge and they all seem rather happy they
did. They will quickly tell you the reason why they're glad they "climbed" into the
gorge is that they know not to ever go back there again. Seriously, there are some
ways to get there by crossing private property but I'm told it's of little or no value
because you cannot get down to the creek without a huge effort and when you do
get to the stream you cannot transverse it and maneuver around well enough to
fish it other than at the particular point you reach it. According to the ones I have
talked to, it's getting back out that the problem.

The reason I was so inquisitive about it was that I have tried to find an easier way to
fish it than via the Hyatt Ridge Trail. From what I can determine, it doesn't exist. To
get there you need to enter the park on the Straight Fork Creek gravel road. The
entrance is just above the confluence of Raven Fork and Straight Fork Creek. Travel
up the road to the Hyatt Ridge Trailhead.

Now, here's the easy part. Walk 1.9 miles up the mountain to the Enloe Creek Trail.
Then walk down the mountain to the Raven Fork, a distance of about a mile. There
you'll find a bridge across the Raven Fork and campsite #47. You can venture
though the campsite and up an angler made trial for a short ways and fish but
there's not a trail that follows the Raven Fork. You have to fish up or downstream
and of course, fishing downstream usually spooks the fish. Fishing through and
around the deep pools isn't easy. Climbing over the huge boulders and though the
thick undergrowth isn't easy either. If the water is a little high, forget wading the
stream. You probably won't be able to, at least not safely. It's best fished under low
water conditions. In other words, fishing the Raven Fork isn't easy even when
you're there. My guess is that 90% of the water in the stream isn't fished during an
entire season and that's a full calendar year in the Smokies.

Craig Landcaster sums it up best in his article I included in our Headwater Series
about five years ago.

Raven Fork
by: Craig Lancaster
September 7, 2008

Many books have written about the rugged nature of Ravens Fork and  
every word is well deserved. From the hike in to the in stream wading,
Ravens Fork is one of the most rugged and hazardous places in the park.

The shortest and best way to access Ravens Fork is Hyatt Ridge Trail,  
which is off of Straight Fork Road. The trail starts out at an  
elevation of around 2000' before making the relatively short, but  
grueling ascend to the top of the ridge, which tops out at 4700'. This
1.9 mile hike offers you several stream crossings and a fairly wide  
trail that is littered with rocks, which can make footing troublesome  
at times. Once you are at the top of the ridge, you will join up with  
the Enloe Creek Trail to make the much easier 0.9 mile hike downhill  
to the river and campsite #47. This leg of the hike is much easier, at
least on the way in, although it is narrower and is not wide enough  
for two people.

Ravens Fork is unique in many aspects, one being that there is only  
one access point directly to the river: the trail crossing at campsite
#47. This campsite offers the perfect place to explore this watershed  
and give your legs a rest at night. The hike in and out can be done in
one day, however much time is needed to truly explore what this  
watershed has to offer. The campsite is rather small, although it is  
nice and flat and offers two fire rings. Although this area does not  
receive many visitors, reservations are required from the park service
to stay here.

The fishing in Ravens Fork is complicated by the rugged nature of the  
stream, however, it's also one of the better streams in the park. This
area was largely spared by logging operations in the early 1900's, so  
this offers an angler a glimpse into what fishing may have been like  
before that time. Right around the campsite, the stream is littered  
with giant boulders, deep plunge pools, and swift currents that an  
angler must navigate in order to fish upstream. Due to the steep  
gradient in this section, extreme care must be taken when wading.  
About 3/4 of a mile upstream from the campsite, the stream flattens  
out a bit until the confluence of Jones Creek at 1 mile upstream. From
here on out, the stream becomes a sampling of extremely rough water  
and sections that are easier to wade. Remember that all steps must be  
re-traced in stream so leave yourself ample time to get back to camp  
if you choose to do this trip.

The area below the campsite downstream to it's conjunction to Enloe  
Creek is almost impossible to fish seeing as how there are no access  
points and it is placed firmly in a gorge. I can not recommend fishing
this section as I see no safe point to access the stream down in this  
gorge.

Almost all of the fish you will catch while fishing this watershed  
will be native Southern Appalachian brook trout. There are a few  
rainbows left to surprise an angler from a stocking operation before  
the park service owned the land. During this time, it was estimated  
that 2,500 rainbows were stocked, however it appears that they were  
not able to sustain themselves and the brook trout did not lose any  
ground to them. The average size is good for a brook trout stream,  
with a 7" native being the average fish with enough bigger fish to  
keep an angler happy. The nature of this stream ensures that larger  
brook trout do exist and fish in the 8"-10" are caught fairly common,  
although there are most certainly fish larger than this in the stream.

Ravens Fork offers some of the finest Southern Appalachian brook trout
fishing in the park as well as in the Southeast. The hike in is not  
for the faint of heart and is only matched by the watershed's in  
stream wading, which more often than not can be described as one part  
wading and two parts rock climbing. This watershed demands that an  
angler be somewhat physically fit to properly enjoy it's wonders, but  
anglers that do make this journey will find a world that appears to be
untouched and is graced with unimaginable beauty and fishing to match.
                                
Article Copyright 2008 Craig Lancaster
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily
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