10/16/10
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 the West Prong of Little Pigeon River - Tributary Streams
The first tributary stream of the West Prong of Little Pigeon River as you head
upstream in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Fighting Creek. Few anglers
are even aware it exist. It's a very small stream but large enough to fish although it
is tough to fish in most places.. It enters the West Prong near the park's Sugarland
Visitors Center area. It has a population of small rainbow trout. This stream is visible
not far from the Sugarland Visitors Center at the point the Little River Road crosses
it and a few places beyond that point. The largest part is below there and can be
access by turning right headed into the park just past the bridge at Sugarland
Vistors Center. This road leads back to an area of homes and the stream.

The Walkers Camp Prong and Road Prong of the Little Pigeon River flow together
just above the Road Prong (Chimney Tops Trail) bridge to form the main stream of
the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The following part isn't one of the
tributaries, but since I'm discussing the trail I can mention that if you go down the
trail from the parking area at Chimney Tops (Road Prong) Trailhead, you will see a
bush-wacked trail of sort before you get to the bridge. It leads down to the Little
Pigeon River about two hundred yards below the bridge. You can fish upstream to
the bridge and catch rainbows and brook trout. It's only a short distance, but well
worth the effort to fish.

Walkers Camp Prong is a small stream that's very easy to access from highway
#441 in many locations. It contains brook trout and rainbow trout. I was told when
we first started fishing the park (about twelve years ago) the rainbows are all small
in Walkers Camp Prong and that's true but we had a very interesting occurrence
there. Angie was fishing the stream just above a bridge beyond the tunnel and I was
staying up on the road to video her trip upstream. A guide and his girl friend from
Nashville was also in the parking lot and asked me some questions about the brook
trout. They intended to fish for them the next day but neither of them had ever
caught a brook trout. The three of us watched as I explained if they would just wait a
minute or two, they would see Angie catch one. In less than a minute she hooked a
trout but not a brook trout. It was a rainbow that measured exactly twelve inches. I
video taped the entire deal and later showed the video to Ian Rutter, a local guide.
He couldn't quite believe it and even stated he thought someone may have put the
rainbow in the creek. By the way, she caught about six brook trout in that stretch of
water while the Nashville folks watched. I always thought the rainbow was just a
fluke or something that was very rare until three years ago. At the same pool she
caught the big rainbow, I caught one that touched eleven inches. Most of the
rainbows are about four or five inches long. Both of these rainbows, caught years
apart, were just two occurrences that doesn't fit the ordinary situation. Naturally, we
have tried it many other times during the last few years in the same little pool
without catching any other large ones.

One little trick (probably a bad word for it because everyone else may use the same
trick) of ours in fishing Walkers Camp Prong is to fish the places that look bad or
impossible to get too. We always hook several brook trout doing that but it takes a
lot of work and even crawling in some places. This is a heavily fished stream
because it is the easiest to access brook trout stream in the park. We still catch a
lot of brooks along with even more small rainbows each time we fish it. There are a
few miles of the stream that borders the road. We also like the places the stream
leaves sight of the road. We just fish upstream and crawl/push/and pull our way
back to the road through the thick undergrowth and bushes. Because the Little
Pigeon River follows along the busiest road in the park, many anglers think it's
fished heavily. In sharp contrast, some areas of the stream are so tough to get too
they are ignored by many anglers. Everything considered, there is rarely a problem
finding room to fish the main stream. Walkers Camp does get a lot of pressure.

This stream does have a low pH but it doesn't seem to bother the brook trout or the
clinger mayflies and clinger stoneflies that exist there. Contrary to what you may
have read (something probably copied from one book to the next) is that it has few
insects due to the low pH level. That isn't really all that true. Per square foot/yard of
bottom, it has about as many insects as any of the streams in the park. It's full of
Little Yellow mayflies
(hebe, juno, other) species, Little Needlefly nymphs, Cream
Cahills and some Light Cahills. It also has Little Blue Winged Olives (four different
species none of which are
baetis). It does have few caddisflies and what is there eat
other insects (midges) mostly, certainly not algae. We have examined many
samples from kick nets over the years. I guess many writers and anglers think the
population of trout in the stream eat hair and feathers. Maybe they think they eat all
terrestrials. If anything, it has fewer terrestrials than most streams in the park due to
the elevation. You can put a drift net in the stream (we have done it several times)
and strain the water for hours without catching the first terrestrial insect. If the trout
relied on them to survive, they would all be dead within a month

Something else I should mention about any brook trout in the Smokies is that while
it's true you can catch them on a variety of attractor flies, you can still catch far
more if you use an imitation of the most prevalent food in the stream at the time you
are fishing. It doesn't have to have a hatch occurring. Just use what should be the
next insect to hatch. The times varies but the order insects hatch in doesn't change.
Doing this will sometimes double or even triple your catch. Also, one other thing I
want to mention is that the brook trout will also take larger than normal flies;
however, fishing a larger than normal fly will provide you only one thing for sure and
that is less fish. The only exception may be those guys who have a difficult time
seeing their fly. They may well hook more on a larger fly but done correctly, the
smaller flies will consistently out produce the large ones. When conditions are right,
meaning the water levels are okay and the temperature is okay, you should be able
to catch and release twenty or thirty trout in Walkers Camp Prong in two to four
hours of fishing. If you can't, you need to examine the way you are fishing.

Alum Cave Creek is a small tributary of Walkers Camp Prong. It enters Walkers
Camp at highway #441 and is accessible from the Alum Cave Trail. The stream
contains small brook trout and small rainbow trout. I see little reason to fish it with all
the Walkers Camp and Road Prong water available. It's very small and certainly not
any better.

Road Prong is the other main tributary of the West Fork of the Little Pigeon River. It
contains some very nice brook trout. It's accessible from the bridge area at the
Chimney Tops (Road Prong) trail as well as several other places farther upstream
on Road Prong Trail. The trail follows the stream for almost three miles. It ends at
the Appalachian Trail at Clingmans Dome Road. It contains mostly brook trout and
some rainbow trout. You can also access it from the top side, of course but we
prefer the lower end.

When the trail first starts, the stream isn't very accessible. Access is better farther
upstream. This middle to upper area is generally the best water to fish. You have to
be careful to select the right areas to climb back out of the stream once you are in it
fishing upstream for a good ways. It's very difficult in many places. The bridges
generally provide the best points to access and get out of Road Prong.

If you start fishing at the foot bridge, you will find it has some deep pools and huge
boulders that must be avoided. You can jump, climb and crawl over most of the
boulders but otherwise you will have to crawl through the Rhododendron to
continue upstream. We have done it several times but it is fairly rough going same
as with most of the entire West Prong of Little Pigeon River. You are much better off
to head on farther upstream on the Road Prong trail.

All things considered, headwaters of the West Prong of Little Pigeon River -
Walkers Camp Prong and Road Prong, offer some of the best brook trout fishing in
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's the most accessible brook trout water for
sure. This concludes our series of articles on the streams of the park. We have
received many compliments and we thank all of you for them and for reading our
daily post.

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