View Full Version : Sam's Creek 05/24/08

05-24-2008, 10:09 PM
My wife told me late last night that I needed to go fishing today (hate it when that happens). So, I decided to try my hand at Sam's Creek. Not knowing where the unmarked, unmaintained but reasonably easy to follow trail was that Pete and Sdetoro59 took, I decided to go up Thunderhead to the mouth of Sam's Creek and go up from there.

When I took the dunking in LR last week heading to Mannis, my cheapo digital camera took a bath as well. While, after a few days, the mechanics seem to be working again, it became apparent after I got up to Sam's Creek that it wasn't really fully healed - apparently the shutter is a bit slow. But I took a few shots anyway - forgive the quality. Below is the confluence of Sam's Creek (to the left) and Thunderhead (to the right) - you can see that they still haven't taken down the two No Fishing signs on Sam's to the left. It was a leap of faith to go ahead and fish in spite of the signs.
I got to Sam's about 9:30 this morning after giving in to temptation and casting a few times in Thunderhead (got a small rainbow as a reward for my temptation). I started up Sam's and before long found out why Sam's made a good brookie nursery. There are a couple of nice waterfalls and assorted cascades that seal off the upper ranges of the creek. I spent a good bit of time bushwacking around stream obstacles and managed one small brookie before 11:00.

About that time, I broke my tippet and lost my trusty Yellow PA. So I switched to a 6x tippet, put on an EHC and the sun came out. Now, I'm not sure which of those things or a combination of factors made a difference but I ended up hooking 7 brookies and bringing 5 to hand over the next two hours. Man do those little buggers put up a fight!

At about 1:15, I lost my EHC and decided it was time to head back down. I had seen a small trail just off the west side of the creek so I exited the creek, headed down the trail and it took jsut about 15-20 minutes to get back to Thunderhead. I would highly recommend as a good exit.

All in all, I had a great time on Sam's Creek. It is a beautiful creek and, once all the planets aligned, the fish were willing. I look forward to going back up there to get a little higher up on the creek next time (assuming I can find the unmarked, unmaintained, but reasonably easy to follow trail). For the adventurous soul, I would recommend going up from Thunderhead at least once just to see how pretty the lower part is including the falls and cascades. The whole time I was there, I saw no other fisherpersons. It is remote enough that it's probably best to go with a buddy. There was one fellow coming in a little after 2:00 as I was coming out of the Thunderhead trail - if you're a message board guy, I'd be interested in whether you found the creek and how you did.

05-24-2008, 10:20 PM
Thanks for the nice report, and glad to hear that there was a little more activity than what Pete had.
If your wife could call my wife and teach her how to say "Honey, you need to go fishing today" I would give you a great deal on some new kitchen cabinets or invite you over for some great barbeque, anything... you name it.

05-24-2008, 10:23 PM
Believe me, FFJ, it doesn't happen often. I wouldn't press my luck by asking her to call your wife - she might never do it again.

05-24-2008, 11:02 PM
Good to see that sams creek was fishing good for you. Ill have to give it another try early this comming week. When i went on opening day i was alone and got caught in a t-storm after catching a few close to the mouth. It was pouring rain and the haze was so thick in spots i couldnt see 20 feet in front of me. So needless to say i quit while i was ahead and went home since i didnt know the area that well.

05-25-2008, 12:29 AM
Charlie, I'm glad your wife came to her senses and kicked you out of the house...I wish I could get mine to do the same:biggrin:

Glad you had a good time. Its amazing how perspectives dictate whether we feel like we had a good day or not. We both caught 5 brookies in about 2 hours (one day apart). I was disappointed because I thought there should be more fish and you enjoyed it because its a gorgeous stream. I like your perspective better. I'll give it another shot in the next week or so.

As far as getting to the stream the "easy" way: The Deafeat Ridge Manyway is a path that is no longer maintained by the NPS, but is still found on some topo maps. Here is a look at it (dotted line):


As you can see, the trail takes you away from Thunderhead Prong and the confluence of Sams Creek. You have to rock hop twice (once across Long Branch and then Thunderhead Prong - a much wetter crossing than Long Branch). When you reach the switchback on the trail there is a fainter path that keeps going straight and then on to Sams Creek. The smaller trail that leaves the Manway at the switchback, then works down toward and also follows the stream. The trail follows a dry creekbed in a few spots and eventually crosses over to the other side of the stream. I have heard from a few folks now, that the best fishing is going to be at least a mile up the stream.

If you were at the confluence of Sams Creek, you were off the Manway and the first 1/2 mile of the stream is tough to work through. Especially if you are trying to fish every pocket. Your best bet is to stick to the trail until you are at the switchback.

05-25-2008, 12:33 AM
Thanks for the information. I am going to be in Townsend next week, and I am looking at a map of the area you are describing. I am a little lost. Can you provide a little more detail about where you went? Is this the upper end of the Middle Prong of the LR? Thanks in advance!


05-25-2008, 01:50 AM
Yes it is, or rather it is one of the ends...if you drive up the road at Tremont, along side Middle Prong, all the way to the end at the parking area for the trailhead, you have reached the junction of Thunderhead Prong (on the right), and Lynn Camp Prong, which join to form the Middle Prong. Sams Creek is a tributary of Thunderhead Prong.

05-25-2008, 03:05 PM

This looks like the trail that I took down from Sams Creek. I could hear Sams Creek all the way down to the trail (through a dry creek bed at times) till I got to the point where the sound of Thunderhead Prong took over. I went down a bank to Thunderhead and there was an orange marker in the tree across the stream. I went up the other side but lost the trail going back the other way somehow. Looks like, coming from the other side, the trail that follows Thunderhead to the metal bridge, crosses over and then leaves the stream. I took that trail out for some distance beyond the bridge but, not knowing where it would lead, went back to Thunderhead where I went upstream to the base of Sams Creek.

BTW, the Volvo is kind of sad looking over there, even more so with the tree gone.

05-25-2008, 07:45 PM
Charlie, we're taking donations for a decent burial for the Volvo:smile:. I found a wrecker in town that is going to give us $50 for it. Walker keeps getting the car in the news for some reason. The last line of the story is incorrect, there is no insurance money coming to help offset the replacement. Not sure where they got there information... http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/may/24/storm-destroys-grad-to-bes-car/

Regarding Sams Creek: The trails up that way are sometimes hard to follow. It sounds like you found the right trail on the way out. Were you not surprised at how much foot traffic the path along the creek had (and how broken in it is for a stream that was supposed to be closed for 5 years)? It looks more worn down than any along MPLR (other than the road, of course...:biggrin:)

Went to Road Prong today (will post a report later) to compare the two streams, and in my opinion, there is no comparison. They are both very different, but RP has a lot more water flowing through it (and I think a lot more fish...). My son (the one in the story above) caught his first fish on a fly today (6 brookies actually) on RP. He was really excited about it. He asked before we started if I would get him a fishing hat like mine if he finally started catching fish. I told him that if he caught 3, we would get one...looks like he's getting a hat....

05-25-2008, 08:08 PM
I used to hike up Sam's creek 4 times a year with the Acid deposition team. John Switsow, Jim Parks, myself and anyone else we could con into carrying a bag of bottles, a conductivity tester and a tape measure about 1 1/2 hours up the trail to the confluence of Sams and Starkey creeks for our readings. We even had a new back country Ranger (Ranger Rooney)join us for the hike one time.I think he wanted to make sure we weren't really going up to fish!. We pulled several samples there and back down the trail. The stream is pretty tight up there but a short rod and a few dries are all you need for equipment along with a small pack with a first aid kit and water. you cross the stream several times and at times seems no more than a rabbit trail. There is an open area that is full of wildflowers and ramps before you get to the old backcountry campsite before the confluense. I can't wait to get back up there again myself. How about it John?

05-27-2008, 09:16 AM
Glad to hear your son upgraded to a Jeep (wrangler hopefully)!

05-27-2008, 09:57 AM
Glad to hear your son upgraded to a Jeep (wrangler hopefully)!

Jeep yes, Wrangler no...at nearly $4/gallon and a whole lot extra for insurance, we opted for a boring Grand Cherokee Laredo...

I used to have a Wrangler when I was your age...I still miss it!

05-29-2008, 04:22 PM
Another interesting thing I once discovered up around Sams Creek was a fenced in area,never could figure out what it was till I read Chris Camuto's book about the red wolf project.They would pen them up and feed them dead deer hoping to get them acclimated to the area.It did not work,the wolves kept showing up in towns.I miss em they made cool night music.:frown:

Rog 1
05-29-2008, 05:00 PM
Someone recorded the wolves in Cades Cove and used this as a backdrop on some mood music that was advertised as easy listening....my Dad brought one of these CDs home from a summer in the mountains and when my 2 year old son heard the howling in the background he became visibly upset and asked that the music be turned off....must have touched a little bit of genetic history somewhere.....the wolves were born and raised on a barrier island off the Florida gulf coast before being transplanted into the park.

05-29-2008, 05:30 PM
Them wolves must have had some culture shock issues after growing up in Florida,then being put in the mountains.:biggrin: Coyotes(which I have read that all eastern ones have interbred with red wolves and are different than there western cousins:confused: )now provide nocturnes.I have seen coyotes way up near Indian Flats Prong,and even saw one eating from a mcdonalds bag in the gravel pulloff at Hatchers cut near Walland.They have successfully colonized Blount county,I think it is great.Plus coyote stories help keep out the halfbacks.;)

05-29-2008, 05:50 PM
Just wait...Coyotes can breed with a stinkin Lhasa Opso (sp?). They will be everywhere. If you see one, you can bet there are 20 more you don't see. IMO they should be shot on site.

Rog 1
05-30-2008, 10:30 AM
Last coyote I saw in the park was between Elkmont and the Sugarlands...it was heading up the side of the road toward a couple of wild turkeys that were feeding on the shoulder....watched the big fellow amble up the road and veer off into the woods....just wonder if Thanksgiving came early for him.

05-30-2008, 11:57 AM
I've seen several coyotes in the park over the years. When we were there in March, we saw one up by the visitor center in Cades Cove.

I'm not sure about mixing with red wolves, but I have heard most Eastern Coyotes are really Coydogs having cross bred with feral dogs and other strays.

I have seen much larger coyotes in the East than I have out West.


Brian Griffing
06-01-2008, 10:42 AM
I saw a jet black coyote two years ago while deer hunting near Walland. I hadn't thought about it, but I guess it could have had some dog mixed in for the color.
Anyway, as far as bigger coyotes in the east go, I saw the biggest coyotes I have ever seen while stationed at Camp Pendleton in southern California. Those old boys got huge coming into urban areas and eating trash, small dogs, cats, and everything else they could get their mouths around. I saw one in my headlights at night that I thought was a loose German Shepherd, until I saw him start running. Now, I'm not saying he was as big as a german shepherd, but he was big enough to cause some confusion at a distance of 50 yards.

06-01-2008, 11:49 AM
I've had a couple of coyotes come into my yard after my dog, had to run 'em off, and can't let the dog out alone anymore. And Gil Lackey from Nashville got a stealth cam shot of one in his back yard. Sucker's are all over.