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bmc
01-29-2009, 12:56 AM
Hi all, I'm planning a trip to the park in mid-March and have a few questions. We are trying to decide between Eagle and Forney. I have been to both once-- Eagle in May with high water, warm temps and great fishing; Forney last March with low water, sub-freezing temps and very slow fishing. (Click here (http://flickr.com/photos/bmcase/sets/72157605837620619/show/) for a short slideshow of Forney pics.) Any pros or cons for the two creeks at this time of year would be appreciated. Is Forney better close to the mouth or is the fishing still good further up the creek? The only "luck" we had last time was at the mouth; but I attribute that more to the weather and low water.

Also, with respect to Eagle, does anyone know if it would be possible to launch a canoe from here (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&ll=35.45235,-83.789206&spn=0.0337,0.077248&t=p&z=14&msid=101274608364825170824.000461975232bcd3e6808)? Is overnight parking allowed close by? I know I can use Fontana Village marina or Cable Cove as a put-in; but this site seems the closest.

Thanks in advance...

chad2102
01-29-2009, 09:09 PM
Hi all, I'm planning a trip to the park in mid-March and have a few questions. We are trying to decide between Eagle and Forney. I have been to both once-- Eagle in May with high water, warm temps and great fishing; Forney last March with low water, sub-freezing temps and very slow fishing. (Click here (http://flickr.com/photos/bmcase/sets/72157605837620619/show/) for a short slideshow of Forney pics.) Any pros or cons for the two creeks at this time of year would be appreciated. Is Forney better close to the mouth or is the fishing still good further up the creek? The only "luck" we had last time was at the mouth; but I attribute that more to the weather and low water.

Also, with respect to Eagle, does anyone know if it would be possible to launch a canoe from here (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&ll=35.45235,-83.789206&spn=0.0337,0.077248&t=p&z=14&msid=101274608364825170824.000461975232bcd3e6808)? Is overnight parking allowed close by? I know I can use Fontana Village marina or Cable Cove as a put-in; but this site seems the closest.

Thanks in advance... you can put in at cable cove to go across

BlueRaiderFan
01-29-2009, 09:12 PM
Wow...I have no idea, but I'd like to go there...

bmc
01-30-2009, 05:55 PM
Just from looking at the map, and no first-hand experience, I would think that Fontana Marina would be better for Eagle while Cable Cove would be better for Hazel. I just noticed the possible canoe put-in on a little road ending at the lake that I linked to; and was wondering about it. After checking the map in "satellite" view, I have my doubts that this will be our best spot to launch. Our paddle across Fontana last time involved 38 mph winds and horizontal snow and freezing rain-- not the best canoeing conditions-- so I just want to have the shortest route possible, in case we face similar weather. I think we're leaning towards going back to Forney anyway. Hopefully we'll have warmer weather and better fishing. We didn't go above CS71 last time; and I'd like to hike to at least Huggins this time.

old tom
01-30-2009, 07:52 PM
I'm fairly familiar with that area and I've been watching your post as I was curious too. Then the light bulb came on. Don't take this to the bank, but I believe what you're looking at as a possible lauch site is a little spur trail that goes thru a picnic area and down to an AT shelter known as the Fontana Hilton. There's no official launch site there. The backward "c" at the start of the trail is a parking lot. It is a paved trail, downhill all the way to the lake, so I suppose you could park in that lot and portage your canoe down to the lake.

As for fishing, either stream will be iffy that early in the season. You could catch cold and snow, like you did last time. Or you could catch an early spring weekend. If solitude is what you're looking for, Eagle is probably your best bet since Forney is a fairly easy 3.5 or 4 mile hike from Bryson City.

bmc
01-31-2009, 04:46 PM
Yeah, that spot is definitely not an "official" put-in. I think we can find somewhere around the parking area like you suggested. It's been awhile since I've been to the dam; and last time we hiked in to Eagle on the Lakeshore Trail. I'm torn on our destination and can't decide. The majority of our group is in favor of paddling somewhere and hiking some over backpacking the entire trip, so Fontana came to mind.

I've never been to Hazel (the flyfishing bug is relatively new-- only 2 fishing trips in the park) and it seems like the least likely Fontana stream to find solitude. Plus, I think I would like my first time at Hazel to be about 6 weeks after the March trip. Perhaps I should not write off Hazel so quickly. Blasphemy, I know!

I am leaning towards Forney over Eagle only in that CS74 was alot less muddy and "horsey" than CS90 at Eagle; and I could potentially drive to the top a day ahead of my friends paddling across and hike down from Clingman's Dome. They can bring my extra gear across with them. (This is only relevant if we stay at the mouth-- CS89 on Eagle is nice and CS71 on Forney-- but staying at the mouth affords us any luxury that will fit in a canoe.) I've never caught a brookie and and would prefer to hike down to them and not up to them judging from the elevation profile. But with so many unseen places in the Smokies, I am hesitant to go back to the same spot I last visited (not that I could be too hesitant about returning to any spot in GSMNP).

There were quite a few fairly large groups of touristy hikers with dogs coming in from the Tunnel last year at Forney; so I could see where we might have Eagle more to ourselves. When we were at Eagle in May several years ago there were a dozen or so flyfishermen as far up as CS89 with another group of 8 or so at that campsite. We only saw one person, a backpacker, above there. The riffles had lots of 3 to 5 inch rainbows and I noticed more and more deep, slow runs. I tried nymphing in several with no luck and switched back to dries with a nymph dropper. I caught several more rainbows, some 6 to 8 inches, on the dries before the first cast at a new run-- very stealthily approached-- led to a nice little 10 inch brown on the nymph. That was the largest "landed" fish of the trip. I couldn't have asked for a better first flyfishing trip to the Smokies. I have to keep reminding myself of the differences between March and May.

old tom
01-31-2009, 07:12 PM
Ahhh. The problems we must endure. So many places and so little time. The best thing you've got going for you is there is no wrong answer.

PeteCz
01-31-2009, 09:15 PM
Ahhh. The problems we must endure. So many places and so little time. The best thing you've got going for you is there is no wrong answer.

BMC, OT is correct, there is no wrong answer. Even if you go back to the exact same spot at the same time of year, you can bet it will be a completely different experience. Thats why some of us keep going back to the same streams time and time again. Each time feels like a new experience (until you've done it about 30 times in a row...then you might want to give it a rest for awhile and find a new spot:smile:)

Of the three streams you mentioned, Eagle may have the most solitude, but it has a reputation of having the smallest fish (everything is relative, so take that with a grain of salt). Since you went to Forney last time, why not give Hazel a try this time. If the fishing is slow, you can at least scout out spots you would want to hit when you come back in May. BTW, Hazel will be somewhat crowded in May (again...relative). It has a reputation, and May is PrimeTime. You may want to go to Hazel now and then to Forney in May...

bmc
02-01-2009, 04:25 PM
Yeah, it's definitely one of life's better dilemmas.

I suggested Hazel; but some in our group are worried that it would be the most crowded due to reputation. All the press, and pictures of people pushing huge pushcarts full of gear up what looks like an unpaved road, makes me leery. I do think this time of year would be less crowded than May; but I'm not sure I can sell it to them. I would like to hike Hazel just for the history of the area; and think I would enjoy it even when the fishing is slow. Perhaps I could make a "navigational error" and just go to Hazel.

We have several weeks to decide; and hopefully some deciding factor will emerge. As was stated earlier, there is no wrong decision. I'm still waiting on the weather forecasts before I will lean too far towards one or another. I think my dog will be the only one unhappy with our decision.

old tom
02-01-2009, 05:45 PM
Don't write off Hazel for a mid-March trip. A lot of the big crowds come from outfitters taking a large group up there for a long weekend. And most of those happen from late April thru Memorial Day weekend. I've never been in March, but my sense is that it would not be too crowded. I understand it's about a 2 hour paddle from Cable Cove. And since your group likes to hike, go on up 8 miles to Calhoun (#82). You'll be within an easy day hike to brookie territory.

bmc
02-09-2009, 08:55 PM
Ok, thanks for the advice / input. We are going to wait to see what the weather looks like before making a final decision; and I'll give a report and post some pictures of wherever we end up. I did just find out the Cable Cove campground will still be closed at this time. The closest campground I'm familiar with is Horse Cove in Joyce Kilmer. Are there any closer? How much would camping in a"closed" campground be frowned upon?