Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 07/20/15
We are back to having to deal with the kind of weather forecast that makes me proud
of our National Weather Service and all the advances in technology. We have come
a long way. In essence, today, we can expect it might rain but on the other hand, it
might not rain. There is a 50% chance it might rain and a 50% chance in might not.
Since we are dealing with hot air temperatures and fishing in the higher elevations is
popular at this time of the year, I will provide a little more information on some of the
park's brook trout streams. Here are three to get started with.
Some of you may not know that LeConte Creek that flows along Cherokee Orchard
Road just outside the city limits of Gatlinburg has brook trout. In fact, I think it was the
first stream that the park fishery people restored with native brook trout.
It's very easy to access and probably quite fragile in the sense that it could easily be
over-fished. If you do fish it, please keep that in mind. It can be accessed from the
Rainbow Falls Trail.
Road Prong (Tributary of West Prong of Little Pigeon River)
Road Prong is one of the best brook trout streams in the park that's fairly easily to
access. It can be reached from the same popular trail that leads to the Chimney
Tops. When I say, easy to access, I'm only referring to getting to the stream. I'm not
referring to fishing it once you are there. That is an entirely different thing.
The Chimney Tops trail leads to the Road Prong Trail. It is about a mile from the
highway #441 Chimney Tops trailhead. There are points where the trail cross the
creek just about the entire length of Road Prong, and that's where most anglers
access the stream. In most places, the creek is very difficult to reach from the trail.
The trail is high above the stream in many areas, and about impossible to reach in
most places except at the trail crossings.
This isn't exactly a very small stream. If the water is at a normal level or higher, it's
tough to wade, and must be done within the stream. It requires a lot of boulder
climbing. The upper sections are generally steeper and even tougher to maneuver
but there's plenty of beautiful brook trout in the stream for those willing to go to a little
extra effort. Most people that fish this stream fish it from the first two or three points
where the trails cross the stream. Few venture farther than the first mile or two
upstream of its beginning.
The 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 think the Raven Fork is the best
brook trout stream in the Smokies. Now, don't get this wrong, because they all have
other places they consider their favorite personal choice to fish, but it isn't because
they don't think the Raven Fork has more, larger brook trout than any stream in the
park. It's for other reasons.
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 access to get to keep most anglers away from it.
Even when you get to the stream, access is 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 an almost impossible to access 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 all told me that 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 it is almost
impossible to get down to the creek and when you do, 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 that have tried it, it's getting back out that the problem.
The reason I was so inquisitive about it was I tried to find an easier way to fish it than
via the Hyatt Ridge Trail. From what I can determine, an easier access just 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
Creeks. Travel up the gravel 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 a lot of fish.
Fishing through and around the deep pools isn't easy. Climbing over the huge
boulders and though the thick undergrowth isn't easy. If the water is a little high,
forget wading the stream. You probably won't be able to do that, 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 about 90% of the brook trout in the stream doesn't see a fly the entire season
and that's a full calendar year in the Smokies.
Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)
Today, there's a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after
noon. It will be partly sunny with a high near 89. Light west wind will range from 5 to
Tuesday, showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly after 2pm. It will be partly
sunny with a high near 86. West wind will be 5 to 10 mph. The chance of precipitation
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data: Click
to links to see updates:
Little River: Rate: 159 cfs at 1.72 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 291 cfs at 1.50 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 50 cfs at 2.29 ft (good wading conditions up to 125 with
extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River: It is back at a good level to fish.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
They are back in good condition.
Current Recommended Streams:
Any of the streams above about the 2500 foot elevation. It is going to be hot again
today. This is summertime.
Recommended Trout Flies:
Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
Cinnamon Caddis: (mostly Abrams but a few in all of the streams) 16/18
Green Sedges (Caddis): 14/16
larva (green rock worms)
Slate Drakes: 10/12
Little Yellow Stoneflies: 14
Little Green Stoneflies: 16
Light Cahills: 14/16
Cream Cahills: 14/16
Inch Worms: Hook size : 10/12/14
Green/Tan/Orange Hoppers: 10/12
Black Carpenter Ants: 16/18
Japanese Beetles: 16/14
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
Keep in mind, the strategies I am recommending is for the maximum odds
of catching numbers of fish. Many prefer or favor a dry fly and by all means there
isn't anything wrong with that. It's just a fact that if nothing is hatching at the time, it
reduces your odds of success. You can still probably hook some trout, just not as
many as if you fish subsurface. Of course, this is also based on using good
techniques and the right flies. Some guys don't know how to fish below the surface.
If you fished the day or two before and know where something is hatching, fish the
nymph or larva stage of it. If you haven't fished the day or two before, until I spotted
something hatching, I would fish the Slate Drake nymph. They are big swimming
nymphs that are easily caught and eaten by trout and are still hatching. If you spot
something else hatching (coming off the water), it will most likely be Light or Cream
Cahills. Change to the appropriate emerger, dun or adult imitations of the insect.
When the Slate Drakes, Light or Cream Cahills are hatching, there will be a spinner
fall late in the day. Often, you can catch more trout fishing the spinner fall quicker
than you can during the hatch. Change to the spinner imitation of the mayfly.
Little Yellow and Little Green stoneflies are hatching, but of course, these hatches
take place during the evenings. Both species of stoneflies crawl out of the water to
hatch. Fishing a Little Green Stonefly nymph or Little Yellow Stonefly nymph, very
late in the afternoon near sunset should produce. If you see the stoneflies depositing
their eggs on the surface of the water, switch to the adult imitation of the stonefly.
As mentioned above, Light and Cream Cahills are hatching. Look for them in the
faster water areas. They will get caught up in the fast water runs and riffles.
Tips for Beginners:
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
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