09/24/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Mahogany Duns
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Little Yellow Quills
7.    Ants
8.    Inchworms
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Hellgrammite
12.  Craneflies
13.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)

Fly Fishing Abrams Creek - Above Mill Creek Confluence
In the area above its confluence with Mill Creek, Abrams Creek is a spring creek.
Most all of its water comes from underground. It appears at least some of the water
comes from Anthony Creek which comes in Cades Cove at its uppermost part at the
Campground and Picnic Area. This is really the beginning of Abrams Creek. I would
guess much of Abram's water comes from rainwater draining into the valley from the
mountains that surround Cades Cove. Most all of this water also appears to run
underground once it reaches the valley floor.

If you search the area of the stream above and below the bridge where Cades Cove
Loop Road passes over it near the end of the loop you will find many small springs
bubbling out of the ground around the stream. If you watch the bottom of the stream
closely, you can also see plenty of evidence of the underground water coming into
the creek itself.

I have read where this water passes through limestone under the valley floor but I'm
not certain how well that is documented. I feel confident it does. I do know the water
in the upper part of Abrams has a very high pH compared to other streams in the
park. I would assume the water that drains through the fields where crops are grown
in the cove also influences the pH of the water. Whatever the reason, the water has
a very good chemistry for aquatic insect life.

The stream has numerous species of caddisflies and some mayflies that doesn't
exist in other streams of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Net spinning
caddisflies are plentiful. There's various species of the Cinnamon Sedges. Little
Sister Caddis are also present. So are some species of free living caddisflies that
aren't that plentiful in other sections of the park. Mayflies such as some of the big
Drakes, including the Eastern Green Drake, also inhibit the stream.

The large supply of aquatic insects provides food for a good population of trout. If
you approach the stream as you normally would any other stream in the park, I
doubt that you would see any of them. The water stays clear and the trout stay well
hidden, or more appropriately, out of sight. They are very easy to spook. Catching
them requires techniques completely different from those normally required in the
park.

There are a few riffles in the spring creek portion of the creek. Where the water flow
increases and the surface becomes broken it is much easier to catch trout provided
any are in the riffles feeding. Since all of the water stays cool and well oxygenated
even during the summer, the trout don't frequent the riffles like they do in the
freestone streams. You will need to catch them from the smooth water and that isn't
easy. I can't possible cover the techniques of fishing spring creeks in a short article
but I can tell you that you will need to slowly slip up behind anything possible and
watch the water carefully. When you spot a trout, the next move is to figure out how
you can present a fly to it without spooking it. Sometimes crawling up close to the
bank and casting from your knees helps stay below the angle of the trout's window
of vision. It usually takes much longer cast than most anglers are used to making in
the Smokies. It also takes longer leaders and tippets.

We have done best sight casting to them when we have found one eating on the
surface simply because it is easier to approach them without being seen. When
they are eating nymphs and larvae on the bottom, it is very difficult to get a fly to
them without being seen. Its slow fishing but it is a lot of fun and provides a lot of
satisfaction when you do catch them. The biggest difficulty comes from not having
much room to cast. Some Pennsylvania spring creeks and most Western spring
creeks are in open areas where you have room to cast. In the thick woods from the
bridge at the loop road to the walkway bridge at Abrams Falls Trail, it is difficult. In
the section of the stream above the bridge on the Loop Road, bushes along the
banks make it just about impossible. It is also just about impossible to wade without
spooking them all.

Angie has taken a couple of large rainbows in this section, both near or just over 12
inches. If you enjoy a challenge, you should give it a try. We haven't fished this
section during a large hatch and that would be the best shot you would have. It
causes the trout to lose a lot of their normal caution. Most anglers want to fish below
the trail bridge where it's much easier to fool the trout. We usually find ourselves
doing the same thing. That will be coming up soon.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh