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
13. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Fly Fishing Big Creek
Big Creek is fairly easy to access but it's located in the north end of the park in an
area that's generally not as crowded as many other areas of the park. It isn't close
to a major town and I would guess that's the main reason. It's just off the Interstate
I - 40 and easy to get too. Big Creek flows into the Pigeon River just outside of the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The stream has a rather steep decline. The entire creek consist mostly of fast,
pocket water but it does have some long runs, riffles and pools. It provides a perfect
habitat for rainbow trout. Its headwaters are also a very good brook trout
destination. In fact, you can find brook trout in Big Creek itself not too far upstream
and some rather large ones at that.
If you compared it to the other streams in the park, you would probably call it a
large stream. It's easy to get to in its lower sections and not so easy to get to in
many of its upper sections. This area is a popular horseback riding area but few fly
anglers use them for fishing purposes although a few do.
There's a campground right inside the entrance to the park at Big Creek. If you
want to start fishing there, don't get on the main Benton MacKaye trail on the
opposite side of the creek. It runs high above the stream. If you chose to fish
upstream wading, you will have a difficult time in places. There are some very deep
pools and huge boulders to negotiate in some areas. There's a fairly good trail, Big
Creek Trail, that runs along the creek on the campground side. You can access it
at the upper end of the campground.
As mentioned in our stream section, this stream isn't very popular among fly anglers
but it isn't because you cannot catch plenty of rainbows there. We have fished this
creek at least a dozen times and have never failed to catch over a dozen trout and
it is usually many more. This is an article I wrote just after I started this website. This
is number 908 of the daily articles I have written and this article was number 3. It
relays how you can spend time hiking when you could be catching trout.
Big Creek is made up of several tributary streams. Since they begin at high
elevations, some of them are very good brook trout streams. Mouse Creek is one of
the lower elevation streams, or the first one of any size headed upstream on Big
Creek. A short distance of it has rainbow trout.
Swallow Fork is one of, if not the largest of the tributary streams to Big Creek. It can
be accessed from the Swallow Fork Trail that intersects the Big Creek Trail about
five miles upstream of the campground. The trail follows the stream for about two
miles. Swallow Fork has both rainbow and brook trout. John Mack Creek is a very
small tributary stream of the Swallow Fork. McGinty Creek is another very small
stream that flows into Swallow Fork. Both of these have populations of brook trout.
Campsite # 36, Lower Walnut Campsite and #37, Upper Walnut Campsite are both
in the area near Swallow Fork. This would be the ideal place to camp and fish for
Big Creek's brook trout.
Gunter Fork Creek is the next small tributary upstream on Big Creek. Rainbows and
brook trout can be found in the lower section of the stream. Brook trout will be the
only species found in the uppermost parts of this stream. It flows into Big Creek
about six miles upstream of the campground. Gunter Fork Trail follows the stream.
Yellow Creek is a very small stream that enter Big Creek about nine miles upstream
of the Big Creek Campground in the headwaters. It can be accessed from the
Yellow Creek Trail. It has plenty of brookies. Deer Creek is another very small
tributary that has a population of brook trout. It enters Big Creek about a half mile
above the Yellow Creek junction. It has no formal trail that follows it. Sinking Creek,
Nettle Branch, Little Nettle Branch and Slide Branch may also have brook trout. I'm
not sure if these, as well as many other tiny streams such as Low Gap Branch, have
brook trout or not. The only way to know for certain, is to go there and toss a
Perfect Fly to them.
Big Creek is an overlooked brook trout fishing stream by many anglers. It's also a
fine rainbow trout stream. It's just inside North Carolina at the Tennessee/ North
Carolina line not far from I-40. You should give it a try. I think you'll like it.