View Full Version : Cherokee "Fly Only Section on Raven Fork"
06-20-2010, 05:20 PM
I've got a question for anyone with recent experience from Cherokee. I have fished this section of water three times. Two times last year March and April. One time previously this year in the month of March. Yesterday on a camping trip in the area, I was thinking about hitting it late in the evening. I fished some park waters during the day and at about 6 pm I decided to check out the trophy section. I rigged up and climbed down to one of my usual holes. I immediately noticed that the water felt luke warm. I took out my trusted old thermometer and let is sit for a couple of minutes. I was in disbelief when I noticed that the temp read 70. I immediately made the decision that it wasn't for me. I don't want to ride a high horse or anything but I was concerned. I noticed at least a half a dozen other anglers in the area and if they caught anything it would be mostly lethal to the fish. This would be fine if you could keep the fish. Considering the need for small flies and 6 x tippet with long exhausting battles. I am sure that not much was caught in that kind of water temp but still. Is this really a good thing? I'm not trying to make an argument but since we can't catch and kill on this section it left me with some disturbing thoughts. Maybe they need to make it catch and kill during the hottest part of the year. Any regulars on here with some input. As for me, I won't be trying it again until I know the water is at a more trout friendly temp. I went up on Bunches instead. I was on the tribal lands and used my $7 dollar daily. This brings me two some more questions. On this stretch of river I caught several rainbows that looked like wild fish along with one larger stocker bow. Then a couple of small pale looking brookies. Do they stock fingerling brookies? I also had a somewhat larger brown come up twice and give me a refusal. I decided then, that he won and I went back to camp.
06-20-2010, 09:48 PM
Hans, I Don't know how far up Bunches you were, but the natives make their way down quite a bit from the park reaches. I have caught several below the last concrete bridge before it goes back up the mountain to Big Witch Gap.
06-20-2010, 09:56 PM
Hans--There are lots of wild rainbows in both Bunches Creek and Soco Creek, and the former is home to plenty of mountain trout in its upper reaches. Some filter down to reservation waters.
I've caught some nice wild bows at the lower end of the trophy water...where you'd think they'd be...mid-river slow pockets, undercut banks, behind fallen tree limbs, etc. Not the places obvious to every flyfisher, but the places obvious to those of us used to chasing wild fish.
If you were to kill one accidentally, I'm sure the crawfish and/or snakes, otters, etc. wouldn't mind it. ( And Cherokee will stock more.)
PS - saw a flyline review you did on Cabela's, sweede! Ordered because of it! Thanks!
06-21-2010, 10:04 AM
Well the fact that they keep stocking and we keep fishing and releasing in that kind of water temp is the problem for me. I guess it's not really much of a sport for me to exhaust fish in that kind of water and not be able to keep them. I think they should close it when it gets above 70 or something. As for everyone else , I don't fault anyone if they keep fishing. The tribe has the right to do what they want to do on their land. I'm just not going to participate again until the water cools down.
Owl, as for the fly line comment, thanks.
The specs I caught most definitely looked like the northern strain stockers that I have seen in local tailwaters. They didn't look like the wild fish at all. The rainbows yes, but not the specs.
swede, no problem. We apparently just hold the fish in varying degrees of esteem. For me, it makes a difference that they are hatched by man and raised for the sole purpose of our sport, and not stream-borne trout. A small one, but a difference nonetheless.
As for fishing there, I'm not planning on fishing it again until fall either. Too many people in the Cherokee area in general and too hot for me this year to really enjoy being out there in a low-land stream.
06-21-2010, 07:21 PM
I tell you what though, I camped about 40 minutes away at Balsam Mountain Campground. It was 58 low at night and never got to 80 during the day. Too bad the drive is a haul.
Ohhh, yeah....I know. The other day it was 76 at Newfound Gap/state line, and 92 in Cherokee! eeeekkk! :)
06-22-2010, 10:08 AM
I spent last week camping in Elkmont and fishing both sides of the hump....something wrong about fishing knee deep in a trout stream with sweat running off your nose...but still better than work.
06-22-2010, 10:43 PM
Hey, guys, I wish you wouldn't talk about cool temperatures. Yesterday,
Chattanooga hit a heat index of 101! Not much different in the rest of SE Tennessee. BTW, looking forward to fishing the park in cooler weather this fall. Hans, thanks for the temp report.
06-22-2010, 11:37 PM
A few weeks of 90 degree plus temperatures will do it. I'm like you Hans, I'd much rather throw the towel in and fish somewhere else. Too much stress on the trout. Looking at the long range forecasts (I'm a weather geek besides being a trout bum) it looks like cooler weather may be on the way towards the end of the month and into July. Cross your fingers.
06-23-2010, 10:56 AM
I wish more people employed your ethics. Once a stream has reached the upper 60's fish are starting to be stressed, 70+ for more than a couple hours a day can be deadly. Fish early and late, and carry a thermometer.
06-23-2010, 02:28 PM
I try to do what I feel it's the right thing to do. I know it can be seen as putting a human face on a fish or thinking that a fish is a higher form of a living thing. It's actually more to it than that for me. It's just not sporstmanlike and to exhaust and play with the fish and then just release it to it's own demise. I just don't get anything out of that. I do however understand that for some people this is not a problem. I guess whatever your personal thing is, keep doing it as long as it is legal.
I think it would be ok to fish under those circumstances but mandatory kill should be the norm. Then when you got your limit you have to stop fishing. This would be more ethical in my opinion. Since the fish will mostly not make it during extreme warm water temps, at least with mandatory kill someone could get some use out of it. It's just a personal thing. I'm not that tore up about it, I'll just have a personal code I go by.
one more cast
06-23-2010, 05:11 PM
Not to hijack the thread but, if the weather cools a little next week, and a camper spot is available at River Valley Campground for a few days, I was thinking of fishing Straight Fork and the Oconoluftee above Smokemont somewhere. Never fished either of these places. Will water temperature be an issue at these two locations next week?
06-23-2010, 07:15 PM
Good News, water temp will not be an issue on Straight Fork, shouldn't be an issue on the luftee either if you stay above Smokemont turn off. Lower down a couple of miles can be iffy on the luftee.
Just remember, Straight Fork is only open inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
one more cast
06-23-2010, 08:57 PM
Thanks for the water temp info Hans.
I assume you mean I'll have to be off the Reservation before I fish Straight Fork. Is there a sign when leaving the Reservation and entering the Park on Straight Fork Road?
06-23-2010, 09:03 PM
ONe More Cast--There is only a short stretch of Straight Fork on the Res. Once you pass the tribal fish hatchery you will see, immediately, a sign marking the Park boundary. From there upstream you are good to go. For several miles the road closely parallels the stream before crossing the "million dollar bridge" as the road heads towrds Heintooga Overlook. At that point it becomes one way and upstream of the bridge there is no trail on Straight Fork. There is an old logging railroad grade but it is badly overgrown. The stream is also difficult in many spots above the bridge thanks to down hemlocks. Set against those negatives is fine fishing for specks. The stream may also be the easiest place on either side of the Park to catch a Smoky Mountain Slam.
06-23-2010, 09:23 PM
There is a sign and a gate right past the hatchery. I like to fish it where it leaves the road for a short ways before the bridge. It has some fall to it in that area and the water will be better oxygenated, and probably will hold a few more fish than the lower section right by the road.
Jim I remember that low water concrete bridge, I always felt that was an accident waiting to happen.:eek: Here is what a Million bucks looks like.
one more cast
06-23-2010, 09:51 PM
Thank you for the information on Straight Fork. I have read your postings on other subjects on this board. I need to read your book.
My apologies. Now the board can return to the polite water temp and fish stress ethics discussion that I so rudely interrupted.
06-23-2010, 09:54 PM
Jim pretty much summed it up, yes what I meant is the fact that Straight Fork outside the park is for tribal members only. No fishing license sold to the public. Like Jim said, you have plenty of water inside the park to play with.
06-24-2010, 07:04 AM
Flyman--Thanks for the photo. I don't know tht the bridge actually cost a million bucks, but that's what locals always call it. The old low-water concrete crossing may indeed have been an accident waiting to happen in high water, but it was better than the simple ford which preceded it.
Thoughts of Straight Fork bring to mind the old-time name for one of its feeders (I don't think you'll find it on modern maps). It was Kaiser Creek, now known, if memory serves, as Balsam Corner Creek. Anyway, the name Kaiser Creek came from the comment of a logger when the entire Straight Fork watershed was being logged. When they got into the steep, rugged terrain of the feeder, he said: "This is as rough as the old German Kaiser." Keep in mind that this was shortly after the conclusion of World War I.
Incidentally, call it Kaiser Creek or something else, the place is and long has been a grand destination for specks
P. S. There's a photo of Straight Fork in my book shortly after the logging took place. The landscape is devastated. Even when I was a boy the area at Round Bottom, now graced by mature trees, was open fields and a prime place to pick wild strawberries. Give nature a half century and she can heal grievous wounds.
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