10/05/10
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 Straight Fork Creek
The Straight Fork is one of the most overlooked streams in the park yet it's a
beautiful stream that is probably fished as little as any trout stream in the park of its
size and accessibility. The stream flows into the Raven Fork not far outside of the
park's boundaries near Cherokee North Carolina. The fact most anglers ignore it is
just fine with those few anglers that do fish it because its a very good trout stream
all the way from its exit from the park to its headwaters. It contains all three species,
or rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout. A few miles upstream from the
entrance, in an area near the bridge, it's possible to catch all three species.

Not only does the Straight Fork have plenty of trout, it also has some very nice size
brown and rainbow trout. One of the largest rainbows I have caught in the park
came from the Straight Fork. It measured over thirteen inches. Angie caught a
sixteen inch brown trout on a cold winter day there a few years ago. We have
spotted and/or spooked some much larger than that.

It does take some out of the way traveling time to get to the stream unless you live
in Cherokee. You can reach the stream from the Blue Ridge Parkway but most
anglers travel through the Big Cove Valley of the Cherokee Indian Nation. The road
basically follows the Raven Fork from town to the entrance to the park.

I would call the Straight Fork a medium size stream in comparison to other streams
in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The lower section has a medium to
low grade. There are some long runs and riffles and the water flows moderately in
most areas. The upper part, near the end of the road access, has a steeper
gradient. It consist mostly of fast moving pocket water with a few plunges.

About five miles of this stream is accessible from the Straight Fork Road. It enters
the park right beside the Cherokee Fish Hatchery. Above the bridge where the
Straight Fork passes beneath the road, you have to hike upstream or wade your
way upstream.  It doesn't have a road or trail to access its headwaters. The trout
above the bridge are mostly brook trout. As mentioned above, in and around the
bridge area it's possible to catch all three species. In the headwaters, the Straight
Fork is fed by several very small tributaries.

You can also access the Straight Fork from the Balsam Mountain Road. Is
accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's actually the same road as the Straight
Fork Road. The road circles around the mountain and becomes the straight Fork
Road.

The Straight Fork is not heavily fished. In fact, it's fished very little considering its
size, beauty and easy access. Much of the stream offers adequate room for
casting. Some of it is tightly enclosed in tree limbs and brush, but for the most part it
is easy to fish for a stream of its size. You can fish upstream inside the stream bed
fairly easy. Wading isn't difficult in most places.

The Straight Fork has a few tributary streams but they are all small. Hyatt Creek is a
very small brook trout tributary stream that is difficult to fish due to the tightly
enclosed canopy of rhododendron. The stream is accessible from the Hyatt Ridge
trail.

Balsam Corner Creek is another small brook trout tributary stream. It too, is very
difficult to fish because of the thick stream cover.

To put it bluntly, the Straight Fork is a great small trout stream in all respects and
deserves much more attention than it gets from anglers.

We have caught as many trout from the Straight Fork (per number of trips) as any
stream in the park. I don't want to count the times we have fished it from our video
log, but I know it is at least over twenty-five or thirty times during the last ten years.
We have never fished it without catching a few trout and we have had four or five
days that Angie and I together, fishing only one at a time, have caught well over
fifty. Those were all browns and rainbows, not brook trout. The brook trout waters
are difficult to fish and we usually prefer other places. We have caught plenty near
the bridge area but not upstream very far. It gets very tight and difficult to fish.

I don't think this stream is any better than many others in the park, but I do think it is
at least as good as those its size. It always produces and the fish average just as
large as most other streams of its size. It has never disappointed us. We have
never seen it crowded. In fact, the most anglers we have ever seen fishing it along
the road is three others. It isn't a stream everyone should break their necks to get
to but it is one everyone should try at least once.   

Copyright 2010