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 the Oconaluftee River - Upper Section
This article covers the upper section of the Oconaluftee River from its beginning at
Beech Flats Prong and Kephart Prong downstream to the confluence of Bradley
Fork. This is one of the best trout streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This section of the Oconaluftee River isn't very large. In fact, it's rather small to be
called a river. Don't let that fool you though. It has some very big brown trout in it as
well as plenty of nice rainbow trout. Its upper part is a little on the steep side with
plenty of fast water plunges and small, but deep pools. The lower you get the more
the stream declination decreases. You will find some long runs, riffles and pools on
the middle and lower part of this section of the river. It also gets wider the lower the
decline gets. You have plenty of casting room on the lower section. Again, by lower
part, I mean down to Bradley Fork. There's still plenty of river below that but I am
not covering it in this section.
You will find a few very small branches that runs into the Oconaluftee River in this
section. None are worth mentioning in my opinion other than Collins Creek. It can be
accessed from the Collins Creek Picnic Area just off Highway #441. The stream
runs under the highway into the river. Collins Creek contains brown and rainbow
trout. It is very small with only a few places I can find that provides any casting room.
Most of the stream requires some serious work to get through the bushes. We have
caught a few nice trout out of these small pools though. It did surprise us at the fish
that were present.
The Oconaluftee River is nothing short of great throughout its length in this section.
As mentioned, it has a variety of water but more importantly, a lot of cover for the
brown trout. There are plenty of roots, logs, limbs, boulder crevices and undercut
banks along the stream. There are some deep holes where you wouldn't think there
would be. The bottom of the stream is up and down. You have to watch your step.
This situation provides excellent habitat for brown trout, so we shouldn't complain
about its rough terrain. There are a few long sections of riffles that are completely
different but even they have lots of small, but deep little pockets that hold a lot of
There are several accesses along Highway #441 where you can park and fish the
stream. It is rough getting around the banks in most places and you have to fish
most of it by wading the stream. The solid lines of trees provide plenty of shade and
helps keep the water cool, but it makes it difficult to cast in many areas.
We follow the hatches and/or most plentiful food available when selecting flies. It
works far better than attractors and generic patterns. We always catch plenty of
trout. We have had some great days on this river. There's one section, not much
over two-hundred yards long, that we have caught as many as a few dozen trout
from on more than one occasion. That's a lot of trout for a short section of stream. It
is usually a mixture of rainbows and browns but more rainbows than browns. Parts
of this section of the Oconaluftee provides just about as good of trout fishing as
your are going to find anywhere in the Smokies. You also have the potential of
catching a large brown. There are others streams just as good but this one certainly
ranks high in our book.