While I generally feel like I know the Smokies pretty well, there are still several places in the Park I haven't fished. Okay, there are a lot of places I haven't fished. After all, with hundreds of miles of fishable water, the problem is one of time and accessibility. The more accessible water is what I normally fish because I am usually low on time. One place that takes a bit of effort to get to is Big Creek.
I chose the "miles of gravel road" route for my recent exploration. Having only passed that entrance of the Smokies once before, I was in for a treat. The stream reminded me a lot of other Smokies streams like the Middle Prong of Little River or perhaps even Little River proper above Elkmont, but what a wonderful little stream! No, I didn't catch any monsters or for that matter even all that many fish, but fishing a new stream is always a great experience. Each pocket, pool, and run provides the little surprises that always come with discovery.
One large pool had a deep section off to the side with a gentle current running through. The surprising lack of conflicting currents meant that the cast was actually pretty straight forward. The trout were obviously holding just under the surface and were rising consistently. My third cast resulted in a fish. In another pool, I surprised myself by setting the hook. The dry had slowly sunk and I'm still not sure if I actually saw the fish or perhaps subconsciously my brain registered the swirl that was the fish taking right in the heavy current. Either way, when I set the hook the fish was as surprised as I was. Of course, these little surprises happen on my home waters as well, but there it lacks that new feeling.
Most surprising of all perhaps were the large pools. Having never been there but always hoping to see it, I climbed out of the gorge right where the stream tumbles out, climbing straight up the side of what felt an awful lot like a cliff, and hit the trail upstream to the Midnight Hole. It was as beautiful as the pictures I had seen and even larger than I realized. My last fishing memory for the day was made on this pool.
Trout are everywhere in that pool, but were relatively tough to fool. It wasn't until I noticed some rises against the far bank that things began to work out. Checking for trees behind me, I was soon casting the big orange Elk Hair Caddis to the boulders across from me. A nice trout ate and I managed to keep it on throughout the fight.
As much as I enjoyed fishing at Big Creek, I was actually on my way over to Cataloochee for 2 nights of camping and with luck would make it over there before dark to fish a little more. Soon I was hustling back down the trail, but already knew that I would be back again, even if it is a little out of the way.
FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 5/22/2017
Fishing is good to excellent across the area. The Caney Fork River continues to shine on both high and low water. In the Smokies, strong hatches have been keeping fish looking up.
Yesterday, Blue-winged Olives hatched for hours during the light rain and drizzle. Fish were looking up but also took nymphs well. Streamers were moving some quality fish as well. The summer hatches are well under way now. Expect Golden and Little Yellow stoneflies and Isonychia (Slate Drake) mayflies. Light Cahills and Sulfurs have been around as well.
The Caney Fork River continues to fish anywhere from good to great on high water streamer floats. Anyone who wants to target trout with streamers will find this to be exciting fishing. Low water is becoming more and more likely, and if that trend continues we will see some great low water floats. The fish are hungry and we are going into some of the best fishing months on this fine tailwater.
Cumberland Plateau smallmouth streams are rounding into fine shape now. Rain will bump flows up again, but in between the fish are hungry and willing to hammer a fly! Musky floats are about over for the year unless we get more rain.