Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report
No doubt most of you have heard a huge winter blast is on its way to the Smoky Mountains. For several days the meteorologists have frantically changed forecasts and snowfall predictions to the point its hard to believe any of it. One thing is for certain we’re getting snow, and plenty of it!
Fly Fishing in Snow
Fly Fishing in the Snow around the Smoky Mountains is about the most peaceful activity that you can do. There’s just something about the cleansing white of winter that refreshes your soul and calms the spirit. More often than not you will have the streams and rivers all to yourself and the fishing is actually quite good. Fish are active even when it snows. We typically see some great dry fly fishing while snow is falling. Ive often entertained several notions as to why this is, but to save myself from embarrassment, I shall keep those notions inside my head. Lord knows most of what I think comes straight out of my mouth, good or bad! Lol! Fact remains however when its snowing throw a dry fly or two. Griffith Gnats, and black parachutes work excellent.
Great Smoky Mountains
The Park Service will close the road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee tonight at 10:00pm in precaution of the impending forecast. Although I’m not happy about that especially when there isn’t any sign of snow yet, I do understand that safety comes first. There are areas where you can get to and fish when the roads are all closed up. It just requires a little walking and planning ahead.
On the NC side of the park near Cherokee you can get inside the park as far as Smokemont Campground. That leaves you with plenty of water to fish that has roadside access along the Oconaluftee river. You also have Bradley Fork which is a very fun place to fly fish with miles of water and some great hiking too. You also have Straight Fork where the gate is closed this time of year, but offers some excellent fishing if you’re willing to walk a bit. Deep Creek near Bryson City is excellent and offers easier access with unmatched scenery in the snow. A short hike will have you into some great fishing and cool waterfalls with miles upon miles of water to fish. The farther you hike the less people you will see. Indian Creek is also accessed from Deep Creek and offers good fishing although not much casting room. Twenty Mile is often forgotten in most circles but offers some good access, and great fishing when park roads are closed. Id venture to bet that you wont see another soul down there either. Of course if you have a boat, Hazel Creek is awesome when it snows! You wont see other people and the fishing is pretty solid. When its snowing will be about the only time you will ever have Hazel Creek all to yourself.
The Tennessee side of the Smokies are a little trickier to get around in when roads are closed. Typically the gate at Sugarlands Visitor Center will be first place to close. This leaves you with some options however. You have the Sugarland Valley Trail that parallels the West Prong of the Little Pigeon for several miles. This lower stretch fishes excellent in the winter months and offers some great solitude with plenty of eager Rainbows to catch. If you’re lucky the road from Sugarlands to Townsend will be open and you can hit the Little River. I personally love to fish the lower end of the Little River in winter. The lure of big wild Browns keeps me awake at night. These almost mythical creatures are tough to stalk and catch, but with some snow falling it puts them off guard just enough to make a mistake! The gate at Greenbrier is usually the last place to close. Even if it does, you can walk up the road and get to plenty of great fishing where you probably have the river to yourself. For those willing to drive a bit you can get into Big Creek fairly easy. Big Creek is sort of remote and off the beaten path for the masses. Big Creek doesn’t see much in the way of fishing pressure and access is pretty good when parks roads close. You certainly wont be close to cell signal in case something happens so fish with a friend and be careful.
No matter what this weekends forecast ends up being, and what actually happens. Until I see Jim Cantore on my doorstep, I’m not going to worry about it. I think I’ll go fishing!
See you on the water