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View Full Version : Emory/Little Emory/Obed for smallmouth?


Stana Claus
07-24-2010, 12:41 PM
Before I head out prospecting on empty water, does anybody here have any experience they'd like to share regarding wadeable smallmouth fishing in the Morgan County area? I was thinking about maybe the Emory upstream of Oakdale and around Nemo bridge, or the Crooked Fork below Potters Falls. I know a lot of the creeks in that area are run by whitewater kayakers when the water levels are up, but how do they fish?

Bfish
07-24-2010, 05:41 PM
Emory upstream of Oakdale might be a little big still for wading.

At Nemo it should be about right.

Crooked Fork has suffered in the past from sewage discharge (at 27 crossing), not sure of habitat there either as it is pretty much bedrock.

Might want to consider Devils Breakfast Table on Daddy's and also Obed Junction area too.

waterwolf
07-24-2010, 10:10 PM
I have a lot of experience in that part of the world, both floating and wading. When it comes to wading, it is tough even on the Obed and Clear Creek, not to mention the emory. Everything will be wadeable then you will get to a 500 yard long 10 foot deep hole with house sized rocks. Getting out and walking through the woods is a risky bet, the rhododendron is dense, and the venomous snake population is off the charts. So caution is highly advised.

Floating any of those rivers is another option, however, extreme caution has to be used. I am lucky to be alive today after a thunderstorm caused the river to rise 6 feet while we were floating. The boat we were in got pinned under a giant under cut rock with only my head sticking out. I wisely stayed in the boat and eventually the current swelled and spun the boat out, or I would have been dead. Do not ever float those rivers when it has rained in the last few days, or is forecasted to rain at all on that day. Floating is also trying as the rapids become super low and portaging is a must, which leads back to snakes and rhododendron hells.

Beautiful places, but certainly as rugged and remote as it gets.

Stana Claus
07-25-2010, 11:38 AM
Thanks for the input Bfish and waterwolf. I was just thinking that all of the things that make a creek interesting for whitewater paddlers at high water ought to make good holding areas for smallies at lower water levels. Of course, as waterwolf points out, getting to some of those places could be a challenge. Still, it might be interesting to check out some of the local paddling guidebooks and go exploring a time or two. When it's not raining nor forecast to be any time soon, that is.

waterwolf
07-25-2010, 10:37 PM
Thanks for the input Bfish and waterwolf. I was just thinking that all of the things that make a creek interesting for whitewater paddlers at high water ought to make good holding areas for smallies at lower water levels. Of course, as waterwolf points out, getting to some of those places could be a challenge. Still, it might be interesting to check out some of the local paddling guidebooks and go exploring a time or two. When it's not raining nor forecast to be any time soon, that is.
That drainage is as gourgeous as any piece of river in this state, and maybe the southeast. It really is stunning, and the fishing can be really good on the Emory end below Nemo. I have caught some really big bass down there over the years, and not so many in the Obed/Clear Creek. The Sunfish are neat as well, usually I wouldn't give a bream a passing glance, but the ones in those streams are spectacular.

Worth the trip just be careful, and prepared when you go.

DBKSTONE2
07-29-2010, 02:25 PM
I have lived in this area all my life and I want to caution you about Obed. I made a post about a trip on the Obed my brother and I made 3 or 4 years ago in July/Aug. You need to do a search on this forum for the full story in a previous post. To sum it up we waded a 2 1/2 mile stretch from Jet or Barnett bridge to Lilly bridge. we alloted 3 1/2-4 hours for the trip. We started at 9:00 in the morning but were unable to get back until 1:00 am. The problem is that you can not get off that river bed until you hit one of the bridges. You are down in a gorge and unless you can repel up 30-100+ ft cliffs and walk through an untamed wilderness for 10-20 miles to the nearest road.

Part of the problem is that the gorge does not allow for cell signal or GPS signals to pass through. My brother and I have two different brands of GPS units and both are good quality. It doesn't matter if you can't get 3 sats to track. The other possibility is that the park map is wrong.

We did not prepare to be on the river for 15 hours. No food, 1 bottle of water, and no flash light. If you want to be scared for your safety set yourself in the middle of an unknown river gorge with the last glimmer of day light snuffing out. Its not about what's in the dark but how you are going to continue to walk out in terrain that you could barely stand on in the middle of the day. Not to mention the drop offs and boulder hopping. There were two times in the night that I just came to a complete stop when I was in the process of stepping down from what I thought was a 12 inch ledge and It turned out to be 4 ft the first time and over six feet the second. Why my "spidy sense" kicked in I leave only to divine intervention. With only a sliver of moon light to see by your depth perception is way off when dealing with a river bottom terrain that is all the same color. If had not stopped to check I would have broke a leg or died from a head injury.

The Obed this time of year has little water so you are walking a lot between pockets of water. I say walking but really it is a lot of falling and picking yourself up. the silt in the still pools is slicker than snot on a glass door nob. If I fell once I fell 500 times. ZERO exaggeration. It got so bad after dark that we crawled huge portions of the river pools with flat rock bottoms.

Needless to say, you burn a lot of calories and expend massive amounts of water. When we got out of that river and the dry heaves subsided long enough for us to drive home, my brother and I weighed because we had a very sneaky suspicion the dehydration was severe. I lost 13.75 lbs and he had lost 11.00lbs from 9:00AM that morning.

Something really funny to my brother and I about the trip happened just as it got dark. My brother is not a fan of darkness and snakes. We had plenty of both at 9:30PM on the Obed. My brother looked at me in a panic when the dark closed in and said "What about the snakes?" I looked at him and before I could answer my belly growled so loud that a deaf bear could hear it. I said "Jbird I hope we do find one 'cause I'm gonna eat the SOB!". We both laughed until it hurt but his panic subsided. I guess you had to be there to appreciate it.:rolleyes:

How we got off that river without breaking a leg or something worse is nothing short of a miracle. Needless to say, I had a conversation with the man above about how thankful I was to get home.

I will tell you couple of things. I would recommend parking your vehicle and walking up and then turn around and walk back. If you spend 3 hours up then you know 3 hours back. I know it sounds so simple that its stupid but I wish I had done that. THE FISHING IS BEYOND FANTASTIC. The Red Eye/ War Mouths in these pools are concentrated because of the low water. We were running double nymph rigs and the NORM was two fish a cast. We would take turns making fun of the other who did not get a double. I would lay cash money on a bet on whether we filled the bed of a Toyota pickup. We stopped counting at about the 400 apiece mark.

Take a flashlight, food, and water. NEVER GO ALONE. Be prepared to fall(a lot!). The terrain is brutal! Bring a sack full of size 8 dbkstone flies in yellow.

waterwolf
07-29-2010, 03:19 PM
I think any of us who have traversed that watershed have some hellish story to tell. It is not for the faint of heart, and when I go back now I carry enough food/water and some basic camping essentials to survive the night in relative comfort. I guess there is a reason no one messes with it, it's too mean and unforgiving.

MickT
07-29-2010, 04:47 PM
Like others have said, absolutely beautiful area, but absolutely rugged. This is ROUGH wading. Do not attempt this area without felt boots. You will be miserable. With felts, it's only mildly uncomfortable. I nearly broke my thumb in a fall out there a couple years ago. The fish are eager and it gets little pressure, especially now with very low water. Did I mention it is a beautiful river? I hear that some of the smaller tribs have redeye bass in them, too.

Rodonthefly
07-30-2010, 08:43 AM
Do you get to the obed by going threw Morgan County, or by going down towards crossville? Anytime anyone wants a 2nd person to fish with, i'll tag along.

waterwolf
07-30-2010, 09:03 AM
Do you get to the obed by going threw Morgan County, or by going down towards crossville? Anytime anyone wants a 2nd person to fish with, i'll tag along.
Either way, for you it would be faster to go through Wartburg via Oak Ridge.

Rodonthefly
07-30-2010, 10:02 AM
looks like this is about a 45 min drive for me. not bad at all. So hows the camping there, would it be a good place to take the fam or should i just plan on making a day trip?

How big the smallies run

DBKSTONE2
07-30-2010, 10:50 AM
Wartburg has the river welcome center. You can get some maps there. There are several bridge/parking areas nearby.

waterwolf
07-30-2010, 10:04 PM
looks like this is about a 45 min drive for me. not bad at all. So hows the camping there, would it be a good place to take the fam or should i just plan on making a day trip?

How big the smallies run
Rod, I would not take your family anywhere near there, it is an extremely rough area, and please use extreme caution for all the reasons listed in this topic. It is not the Little Pigeon, CLinch, or Holston. That place means business and can leave a lasting impression.

Rodonthefly
07-30-2010, 11:35 PM
Wolf, when you want to go? I'll follow your advice and leave the fam at the house. Is the river just rough or are the poeple? I have heard of some big bronze backs comming out of the Emory above Harriman. I'm game anytime. this woul be a good after work trip for me.

DBKSTONE2
08-02-2010, 04:02 PM
Wolf, when you want to go? I'll follow your advice and leave the fam at the house. Is the river just rough or are the poeple? I have heard of some big bronze backs comming out of the Emory above Harriman. I'm game anytime. this woul be a good after work trip for me.

People?? Once your down there you would be lucky to see another person much less one that would be rude to you. If I were to make a safety comparison I would say the Clinch would be the equivalent of Dollywood and the Obed would be the Tenderloin district on the bad side of Chicago. Not a place to be unless your a bug or snake.:biggrin:

Jswitow
08-03-2010, 05:04 PM
I am wondering if you would recommend an access point, one to walk into, and back out of?
And what about a float..... if sure the water is not up, or coming up, and no rain forecast!
Thanks,
I'd like to do this too. Even know a guy who grew up in that area, he fishes and has no interest!
What weight rod do you like up there? I usually like a 9' 6wt for smallies, but that may be overkill.
Thanks,
John

woodman
08-03-2010, 07:32 PM
I have fished the Emory/ Obed with some success. It is a tough area compared to the reward. Easiest access for me is at Nemo bidge in Wartburg. At low water , pretty good wading oppurtunities. Be careful where you step- rocks and snakes. You can canoe from Nemo to Oakdale in a day. Portage Nemo rapid where you put in and rapid at Camp Austin ( river right) Start early. If you are looking for another plateau opportunity go to Big South Fork. You can access river at Station camp - have a nice picnic and explore arches close by. The shellcrackers and redeye are abundant here. If you have a canoe , put in at Yamacraw bridge (sp) and paddle upsteam . River is pretty much at lake level. Many rocky shores to get out and fish. I have caught smallmouth, spots, and shellcrackers on this section. Good luck and stay safe.

duckypaddler
08-03-2010, 08:35 PM
Before I head out prospecting on empty water, does anybody here have any experience they'd like to share regarding wadeable smallmouth fishing in the Morgan County area? I was thinking about maybe the Emory upstream of Oakdale and around Nemo bridge, or the Crooked Fork below Potters Falls. I know a lot of the creeks in that area are run by whitewater kayakers when the water levels are up, but how do they fish?

I really don't think there are any more poisonous snakes there than anywhere else in the mountains, although there are a ton of non-venomous snakes that have a similar pattern to a copperhead (buy no big triangle head) that small like a skunk if you grab them. Although the ticks on the plateau are another story:eek: I would follow others advice on Crooked Fork. I'm involved in a water restoration project there and there is acid mine dischange, and unless everything in now online at the new plant still some sewage issues. For an easy fish I would start at Lily Bridge on Clear Creek. Take the climbers trail from the top of the parking lot about 1/4 to 1/3 mile down stream. This takes you into the gorge and if your fine with rock hopping I would go down another 200 yards and fish up from there back to the bridge and take steps right back to car. I have fished several times while kayaking and have always had eager fish. The scenery here is alone worth the price of admission. Also check out Nemo and fish from there. I wouldn't advise Barnett to Jett (5mi flat), and only do Jett to Lily if you have a full day.

Use these stream guages.
Clear Creek
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/tn/nwis/uv/?site_no=03539778&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060

Emory
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/tn/nwis/uv/?site_no=03540500&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060

Daddy's
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/tn/nwis/uv/?site_no=03539600&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060

Remember these strams dry up to lakes in the summer and are much different than the freestone streams of the Smokies

Under 200 cfs good for anglers

And if you take a boat, and I wouldn't unless you know how to properly steer around strainers and nasty undercuts that will eat you for lunch, by all means be careful and don't become a statistic. Although if you are wading and willing to swim should be no worse than the Smokies:smile:

Stana Claus
08-03-2010, 09:52 PM
Hey, duckypaddler, thanks for the info. I may have to give Clear Creek at Lilly Bridge a try. I was passing through the area today (hauling books from Crossville up to Huntsville) and the Gorge looked awesome.

Question - According to the maps I have, it's about a mile from Nemo Bridge upstream to where the Obed joins the Emory. Is that stretch wadeable at low water levels, and is it worth fishing? Or would you recommend fishing downstream from Nemo toward Oakdale?

waterwolf
08-03-2010, 10:38 PM
I have traveled all over this part of the state and no where I have ever been has the numbers of venomous snakes that the plateau does, and the dry hot weather draws their prey towards the water. I do not think I ever went my father (herpetologist) that we didn't see several copperheads each trip over there. The difference between water snakes and copperheads is striking if you know what to look for, and both are extremely common.

To all who are intrigued by the Emory, Obed, and Clear Creek. There are much much much better rivers to haunt for smallmouth in this part of the state, without the issues which surround the plateau rivers.

I have unlimited fishing time basically, and I rarely if ever go there anymore. I fished those rivers a bunch when I didn't know how good the rest of our warmwater fisheries were.

David Knapp
08-03-2010, 11:15 PM
I have unlimited fishing time basically, and I rarely if ever go there anymore. I fished those rivers a bunch when I didn't know how good the rest of our warmwater fisheries were.

Man, that is great! Wish I could say the same...someday I guess...

Oh, and have to agree about the snakes. There seem to be a lot more around here there I have seen in most anywhere else in east Tennessee... Two out of the three copperheads I have stepped over in my life were somewhere on the plateau. The rocky gorgeos are particularly "infested"...

Stana Claus
08-04-2010, 07:13 AM
To all who are intrigued by the Emory, Obed, and Clear Creek. There are much much much better rivers to haunt for smallmouth in this part of the state, without the issues which surround the plateau rivers.

To help explain my interest in those rivers, let me share a little story my Granddad told me a long time ago. When he was a young man he was working on a road-building crew. They had dug a big pit to get some fill dirt for the road bed one week and then a big rainstorm blew up over the weekend and filled the pit with water. When they came back to work Monday morning, there was an old man sitting on a bucket with a fishing line out in the pit. They told him there weren't any fish in that pond, that they had just dug it the previous week. His reply was, "I know. I live in that house right over there and watched you dig it. But I wanted to go fishing this morning, and this was SO convenient!"

I live in Kingston and work in Harriman. If it's worthwhile, fishing the Emory or somewhere in that area for a couple of hours in the evening after work would be plenty convenient, and a great way to unwind. But I'd still like to catch some fish.

waterwolf
08-04-2010, 09:03 AM
I can completely understand where you are coming from, and my point was more directed to the folks who live here in Knoxville. That given the same distances, much better can be found for the same amount of travel.

Stana Claus
08-04-2010, 11:00 AM
Hey, waterwolf, I do appreciate all the info you provided and didn't want you to think I was totally ignoring your advice or something. I now have a pretty good idea of the rigors involved with making a serious attempt at fishing the gorge, and it's probably a lot more than I want to take on in an afternoon. I will most likely be checking out some of the water within easy wading distance of the various access points, if for no other reason than to be able to say I did. And when I do, I'll be doing so with a much better idea of what to expect. So, thanks. SC

DBKSTONE2
08-04-2010, 11:49 AM
"Ducky" said the Jett to Lilly is a full day. If you attempt that with someone you need to keep CONSTANT check on your time and pace. It is A LOT farther than you realize and you will be moving really slow trying to traverse the rock ledges and boulders. If you do this then you need to start at daylight and be prepared to not come out until close to dark (Assuming your doing this in summer with the longer days). Keep a good pace and don't wear out a single hole. In August you can forget about "floating" you will carry your belly boat or canoe 90% of the time. Spring is another story.

waterwolf
08-04-2010, 01:52 PM
Hey, waterwolf, I do appreciate all the info you provided and didn't want you to think I was totally ignoring your advice or something. I now have a pretty good idea of the rigors involved with making a serious attempt at fishing the gorge, and it's probably a lot more than I want to take on in an afternoon. I will most likely be checking out some of the water within easy wading distance of the various access points, if for no other reason than to be able to say I did. And when I do, I'll be doing so with a much better idea of what to expect. So, thanks. SC
You can pretty easily get upstream of Nemo, and wade for a decent ways before it gets stupidly deep. I have waded some around Lily as well, and it was pretty good. The deeper holes are best navigated by carrying a small ski belt (life jacket of sorts) and swimming them. The banks are ferocious.

Jswitow
08-04-2010, 05:09 PM
Thanks for the info everyone. Wolf, you are certainly right about better quality fisheries close by.
Took a side trip up to Hot Springs today, any decent access floats on the French Broad up that way?...... The Nolichucky or Pigeon for that matter? I know someone's Yukon or Tahoe ended up in Del Rio after being stolen years ago, burnt to a crisp. That may well be something to consider as well.
Thanks,
John

waterwolf
08-04-2010, 10:17 PM
Thanks for the info everyone. Wolf, you are certainly right about better quality fisheries close by.
Took a side trip up to Hot Springs today, any decent access floats on the French Broad up that way?...... The Nolichucky or Pigeon for that matter? I know someone's Yukon or Tahoe ended up in Del Rio after being stolen years ago, burnt to a crisp. That may well be something to consider as well.
Thanks,
John
I parked that Tahoe and when we returned it was gone along with my wallet and keys, along with a ton of $$$$ invested in gear which was inside.

The Pigeon is pretty good, weird water flows, tough wading, and shallow as ****. It is a tough float in any craft from my experiences.

The Chucky is probably the best freestone river we have here, and has a ton of fishable/floatable water.

My luck on the French Broad is terrible. I have never caught it fishing right, or the bass there are smarter then me and my tactics.

There is tales from a small river near McMinnville, which is totally off the map and rarely if ever fished best I can tell......starts with a C.....I think....;)

Bfish
08-05-2010, 09:06 AM
rarely if ever fished best I can tell......starts with a ......I think...

Loads of spotted bass, very few smallmouth.:biggrin:

waterwolf
08-05-2010, 10:10 PM
Loads of spotted bass, very few smallmouth.:biggrin:
:biggrin::rolleyes::biggrin:

duckypaddler
08-08-2010, 03:36 PM
Hey, duckypaddler, thanks for the info. I may have to give Clear Creek at Lilly Bridge a try. I was passing through the area today (hauling books from Crossville up to Huntsville) and the Gorge looked awesome.

Question - According to the maps I have, it's about a mile from Nemo Bridge upstream to where the Obed joins the Emory. Is that stretch wadeable at low water levels, and is it worth fishing? Or would you recommend fishing downstream from Nemo toward Oakdale?

There are many spots where it is very wide and I could see causing problems, but again I have never done that. If you have a 4x4 you may want to take the trail past the railroad tunnel to the campsite (last gravel road on R if headed to Nemo before you make the R into Nemo parking lot) where the Obed meets the Emory. The Emory upstream from here is low volume and might be good and definately not too big.

duckypaddler
08-08-2010, 03:41 PM
"Ducky" said the Jett to Lilly is a full day. If you attempt that with someone you need to keep CONSTANT check on your time and pace. It is A LOT farther than you realize and you will be moving really slow trying to traverse the rock ledges and boulders. If you do this then you need to start at daylight and be prepared to not come out until close to dark (Assuming your doing this in summer with the longer days). Keep a good pace and don't wear out a single hole. In August you can forget about "floating" you will carry your belly boat or canoe 90% of the time. Spring is another story.

I can easily spend 4 hours on a 1/2 mile of creek, so in theory you could have 20 hours of fishing if you wanted. Although even if your at the furthest point in, it only 1.25 miles out. Alot better than if you were lower in the gorge, or up the Obed. Be careful parking at Barnett & Obed junction if you fish other spots as they are hot spots for locals with nothing good to do but vandelize and steal. Nemo & Lily are safer, but you can have problems anywhere