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Rainbow Warrior
12-30-2010, 11:37 AM
Hey everyone. I have been getting an itch to try fly fishing in the Smokies. I have fished a few small streams that I have found In the Nantahala National Forest, but I'm sure they can't compare to the Smokies. The trip I am planning would be either 2 or 3 nights and would take place in late March/early April. I would have my Dad and another friend with me. I have been having a few different ideas running through my head about this trip. The two main places I was thinking about are Hazel Creek and Eagle Creek. I have a boat that we could ride over in. The problem with this is leaving the boat. What do most people do when they leave their boat? Do they leave it? I am worried about the boat and the stuff in the boat getting stolen. For Eagle Creek, I was thinking about packing into site 89. I think this is an easier mile hike. The thing I am most after is solitude along with good fishing. If I decide to do a 3-nighter, I would like to go further up to site 96. Do you guys have any recommendations on which is better? Also, I have read up on fishing Eagle Creek. They say it is a small to medium sized stream.

The next place I was thnking about was Hazel creek. The main problem, again, is leaving the boat. I also read that the sites here were closed last year due to bear activity. Will this still be the case in late March/early April? I was thinking about taking the 4.7 mile hike up to site 85 if it isn't closed. I have heard the fishing in the stream can be great with proper water levels. I also saw some pictures of some nice browns that came out of there. I assume I would be fishing the spring patterns like quill gordons and some caddis as well as other attractor drys/nymphs.

My back up plan would be to go to forney creek. We would be dropped off at the end of lakeview road and hike 4.1 Miles to site 71. I have seen that this is not the biggest of streams, but can fish well.

Overall I think my first choice would be Eagle, but if it is still closed I would like to do Hazel. Which, for you guys, would be better in late March/early April? I was wondering if you guys had any tips on what to bring and what not to bring. I have never done a trip like this. Any input on whether the sites I have chosen are good or bad would be greatly appreciated. Another thing I have found out is that you have to reserve the sites and get a backcountry permit. Where could I get this and how much would it cost? Finally, I guess, would be how do these creeks fish?
Thank you for any input.
Garrett

Knothead
12-30-2010, 12:06 PM
RW, I was thinking the same thing- hook up with some folks that are familiar with the park. I'll probably put out a request for some company later. SWMBO probably won't let me go by myself, although I'm comfortable with it myself.
As for the creeks, there are several guides to fishing in the park. I have Don Kirkland's book; there are others. Check with Little River Outfitters in Townsend. They should have some in stock.

Speckleman5
12-30-2010, 12:22 PM
You should do a search for Eagle and Hazel. I'm sure there is a ton of information spread out over dozens of past threads. As far as your backcountry permit it is free and can be obtained at any of the ranger stations or visitors centers such as Sugarlands or Cherokee.

David Knapp
12-30-2010, 12:46 PM
Here is some information on backpacking in the park (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/backcountry-camping.htm)...you need to call the Backcountry Office to reserve any sites that require a reservation...

Mac
12-30-2010, 05:17 PM
Rainbow Warrior,

Like stated above there are quite a few threads on Hazel. Personally i am not as familiar with Eagle.

Someone else on this site might also be able to provide the Web link that shows what sites are closed due to bear activities. I think Sam Mcdonald and others have posted this link in some of the other threads. :confused:

From my personal experience for a early spring trip to Hazel I would wait until the first Week of April to the Third week of April. I think two springs ago I went the first week of April at Campsite 82 and woke up to snow on the ground. :cool:

Also my experience has been for early April I have had to go to some of the further up in altitude campsites 83 or 82 to get where the water was not to high. This time a year you can have a lot of spring rain runoff that can make the lower parts of Hazel pretty tough.

Keep researching, planning and talking with other fisherman and you will end up with one of your favorite trips of a lifetime. :biggrin:

Rainbow Warrior
12-30-2010, 10:05 PM
Thanks guys for the info. I will search this forum and see what google has to offer. I guess I will have to call one of the ranger districts to find out if the sites are still closed. Mac, thats a good point with the spring rain. I hadn't thought of it. That would be interesting to wake up with snow as well! I guess it is just one of those deals where I will have to wait and check the weather forecasts/previous rain totals. I doubt I will be able to make it to the higher altitude sites. I am just starting to get serious with backpacking. I have done a few trips with some buddies of mine. We are 15. I think we will probably start with a couple smaller 2-3 night trips before making a bigger one. My Dad would also be going with us. He doesn't have any experience as well. I guess I will have to wait and see! Thanks for the replies guys.
Garrett
BTW- PA, that link was very helpful. Thanks for posting it.

David Knapp
12-31-2010, 12:01 AM
BTW- PA, that link was very helpful. Thanks for posting it.

No problem! About the sites being closed, you won't be able to find out until basically right before your trip. Here is another link (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm) that can be helpful as well... Down towards the bottom is a section that has both bear warnings as well as closures for backcountry sites in the Park. I'm not positive how well they keep it updated but I think its fairly accurate. Of course, a last minute call just before your trip would definitely be wise...:cool:

flyman
12-31-2010, 12:05 AM
Eagle and Forney creek both have some good fishing, and nowhere near the pressure that Hazel does now days. Most people don't have any problem with leaving boats at the lower sites on either creek. I wouldn't leave any electronics that can be easily remove, but I haven't heard of anyone having much of a problem in years.

Might be a bit early to worry about what sites are closed, they are constantly changing and just about everything should be open in early spring. I would make a base camp and take day trips out of them the first couple of trips. You can spend more time fishing and exploring than hiking and breaking down and setting up camps. That way you can see campsites along the creeks, and see which parts of the creeks you like the best.

Rainbow Warrior
12-31-2010, 10:32 AM
That's what I figured. I am sterting to lean towards site 89 on Eagle Creek. It's looks to be probably 1.5 miles in and is by or at the place where Ekaneetlee Creek comes into Eagle Creek. It could be fun to explore. Flyman, I agree with you. Site 89 isn't too much hiking and would be a good base camp. I also am leaning towards Eagle because it shouldn't be as crowded. I will be there during the weekdays too which should help. One thing I can't determine by the map is whether or not the site is on the trail or it is off the trail a little bit.
Thanks for your responses.
Garrett

Oldman
01-01-2011, 12:09 PM
If you go to Eagle you might as well wear you wading boots on the hike in because you will be crossing the creek 3 times before you get to 89. Last May I was at 89 and 2 guys came in from Wilmington NC. One of them wore his brand new hightop insulated boots. They came in from the dam. Needless to say he stayed in camp for 3 days nursing blisters and rode back on the ferry to Fontana Marina. Let him borrow $25 for the ride back and then drove him to his car on the other side of the dam to wait on his partner. That guy was the least prepared fellow I have ever seen in the woods. If yall got any question you can email me at edmondselectric@bellsouth.net.

old tom
01-02-2011, 09:08 AM
Since you're able to go during the week, I wouldn't rule out Hazel. It has been my experience that you won't run into large numbers of other fishermen then - maybe two other groups. There's 8 miles of fishing between the lake and Calhoun plus several feeder streams that should be explored. Now weekends are another story, particularly if one of the outfitters has a group up there, there could be 50+ people on the creek. Eagle may fish just as well, but it should be a rite of passage to make at least one trip to Hazel. It's an easy hike to Sugar Fork or Bone Valley and both make good base camps for day trips.

I'd definitely wait until later in the spring. You'll have a better chance of warmer weather, the days will be longer and the fishing will be better.

Crockett
01-02-2011, 01:21 PM
oldman I feel for that unprepared guy that hike on the Lakeshore trail from the Dam to Eagle creek is a slog. Like much or the Lakeshore trail it is finger ridge after finger ridge a very long 5 miles.

RW you didn't say what kind of boat you have but if it is a canoe or kayak you won't have any problem leaving it near cs 90. When I have been there I always see lots of canoes and kayaks around. Of course you want to pull it well off the water and if you wanted you could even stash it in the woods or pad lock it to a tree as long as you remembered where it was at but probably no need to do that.

Jim Casada
01-02-2011, 05:37 PM
Rainbow Warrior--One consideration one or two response have touched on, although not in detail, involves the closure of backcountry campsites for bear activity. All Hazel Creek sites except Calhoun (which is a LONG way from the tyrailhead) have been closed all fall and continue closed. The Park has some problems with bears which they are going to have to address. There are some solutions, and I just can't see fishermen and others blithely accepting ongoing closure of lots of campsites. Incidentally, while bears in the Smokies don't hibernate permanently in the winter, they are by no means intensely active this time of year. I've addressed this problem in considerable detail in a column which will appear in The Tuckasegee Reader (www.Tuckreader.com (http://www.Tuckreader.com)) later this week. My take isn't very kind to the Park, and I hope some of you will read it and offer input. I'm open to criticism but hopefully it will be based on facts, not emotions.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Rainbow Warrior
01-04-2011, 04:31 PM
oldman I feel for that unprepared guy that hike on the Lakeshore trail from the Dam to Eagle creek is a slog. Like much or the Lakeshore trail it is finger ridge after finger ridge a very long 5 miles.

RW you didn't say what kind of boat you have but if it is a canoe or kayak you won't have any problem leaving it near cs 90. When I have been there I always see lots of canoes and kayaks around. Of course you want to pull it well off the water and if you wanted you could even stash it in the woods or pad lock it to a tree as long as you remembered where it was at but probably no need to do that.

The boat would be a almost brand new hyde drift boat we got last year. Ithas a motor. I am not sure we really want to leave it. We do have a few kayaks we could use. Do you guys know how long of a paddle it is? I am startin to like the kayak idea more and more.

Crockett
01-04-2011, 04:51 PM
It takes about an hour I think to paddle across but can be tricky if the winds are up. If you are paddling to Hazel then the best place to launch from is a campground that is directly across from the embayment but I can't remember the name of it maybe someone else knows. Yeah I don't blame you not wanting to leave the drift boat.

old tom
01-05-2011, 07:52 AM
That launch site for paddling would be a USFS site called Cable Cove. Access it from Hwy 28N. And I think it may be more like a 2 hour paddle.

highpockets
01-05-2011, 05:18 PM
I grew up fishing and hiking around Hazel if anyone has a specific question?


Things I remember:

1. The water temp is always COLD, even in summer.
2. The higher you climb (obviously) the less people you see. There are people that have "hazel carts" that they built specifically for walking in a large amount of gear. They're two-wheeled carts like a deer hauler. Sometimes, mind you just sometimes, these people all strike out for high ground, and during the weekdays leave the lower water all alone.
3. If the bears are a problem that's new because I've never seen or had a problem with one up there. We had LOTS of problems with pigs; especially at night.
4. Chester (former ferry driver) was always good about info on how many folk were up in there. Not sure if he's still doing it.


Me and another fellow saved a guys life up there one night. He came stumbling through camp in the dark, soaking wet and completely disoriented. He had been walking for two days and started at, wait for it, Clingmans Dome where he got turned around in the snow. he could not talk and was completely hypothermic. We climbed the nearest ridge and called 911. They had been searching for him. We met up with a search team taking him out the next morning. Even dem little mountains cun kill ya boys!

Crockett
01-05-2011, 05:25 PM
Does Chester sport a black beard if so he is still around.

highpockets
01-05-2011, 06:21 PM
Yes he did. ;-)

Knothead
01-05-2011, 08:44 PM
Jim, which edition is the article in? I would like to read it.

Mac
01-06-2011, 12:45 PM
Jim, which edition is the article in? I would like to read it.


I think this is it

http://www.tuckreader.com/bear-trouble-in-smokies/

Crockett
01-06-2011, 02:24 PM
I think this is it

http://www.tuckreader.com/bear-trouble-in-smokies/

Hehe I loved the article and laughed out loud here! I left a comment on the story Jim.

NDuncan
01-06-2011, 05:26 PM
They totally need to start spanking the bears again.

Knothead
01-06-2011, 07:29 PM
Thanks for the link. Outstanding article! Jim mentions the olden days when many of the park rangers were from the local area. Is it now that we have an influx of people outside of east Tennessee and don't have the connection with the land and the people? I have never had my licens checked in the 8 or 10 years that I have been fishing the park. I recall a reliable person that told me that problem bears were trapped and transportes to the bear refuge in Polk County which is just 20 miles east of where I live. Again, Jim, thanks for an insightful article. Maybe someone in the USFS will read it, comprehend what is said and act accordingly.
BTW, can't we spank some tourists sometimes?:biggrin: I have seen some who need it.

JayB
01-06-2011, 08:56 PM
They totally need to start spanking the bears again.

I believe this is a practice that originated in China.;)

GrouseMan77
01-06-2011, 09:38 PM
As much as I'm in the park I've only encountered a hand full of rangers. I know that they work hard and are stretched pretty thin. They are never around when I see someone being an idiot...and there have been more than a few instances. I bet they have to go through some outlandish protocol when they do have a problem bear. I'd be all for the bolder bears taking a shot from one of those bean bag guns or a taser.

501
01-06-2011, 10:41 PM
Jim, thanks for the informative article. I agree with most of it although I'm not personally prepared to take up bear spanking at this time! I believe it is "the tip of the iceberg" and that the problem is much deeper than it appears.
My rather broad question is what actually constitutes a bear problem by park service definition? Is it based on sightings, confrontations or what? To my knowledge reasons for closures are seldom given to the public. They just seem
to occur for extended periods with no explanation or accountability. As a back country traveler for 25 years plus I have questioned park personel about this and recieved only general responses. Most have only a vague idea why and never any thoughts as to when a closure might be lifted.
In my back country travels I have only encountered Rangers twice. The bears live there and call it home. They are always going to be there (hopefully) and the park service should concentrate more on human/bear compatibility. Guidelines should be publicly established on closures. Ranger patrols should be more frequent to ensure that bear country camping rules are enforced. After all, don't most bear problems begin with human problems?
Finally, if a closure should occur, it's status should be continually rechecked to confirm its validity and necessity. Merely closing an area on momentary information for long periods is just the easy way out and irresponsible of our
park service to the people it serves.

Lee

Jim Casada
01-07-2011, 05:31 PM
Thanks to all of you who commented on my piece in the Tuckasegee Reader. I fear, as one of you said, that we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg. Rangers almost totally confine their activities to the front country, and it seems each of you, like me, sees precious little in the way of an official presence away from the roads. I do know there is a bit of undercover stuff from time to time, but as more than one of you suggested, it would really help to know the protocols connected with bears (and other problems). If the situation persists I will make a formal request for those protocols in the spring, and if I don't get them, there's always an option to take the Freedom of Information route. For now, I'd just like for the Park to pay some attention to backcountry issues.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

spotlight
01-09-2011, 11:17 PM
Well I hope this don't make anyone mad but here is my opinion. I think much of the problem lies within the retards who use these backcountry sites. On several occasions I have found abandoned coolers at sites as well as beer cans, bottles etc, I have found beenie weenie and vieanna sausage cans tossed in fire pits. I have found cotton clothes and underwear "YUCK" left behind.

The fire ring is NOT A TRASH PIT! LNT stands for "Leave no trace" if you carry it in CARRY IT OUT! I have done some trail maintenance with park officials and one told me, they at times close sites because of overuse. Here's how it works someone hikes into a backcountry site and finds trash everywhere and in disgust tells the NPS they had a bear encounter. Again this is my rant and only speculation. Then the park closes that site? Maybe they do it to keep all the trees from being cut down for firewood? yep I seen people doing that too.

I have seen those beast of animals that people ride tied up at campsites in the backcountry right where backpackers cook dinner and eat. THANK YOU! OK so there is a point to this rant WE ALL NEED TO DO "OUR" PART TO KEEP "OUR" PARK BEAUTIFUL.

If you see someone trashing the park call em out on it, then quietly pick up their trash and hopefully the tard will get the hint. I have seen beer cans along Little River, trash, fishing line wadded up along the bank and I'm pretty sure backpackers didn't leave that there. Bears are a problem in the park but I think people are more the problem then the bears if you leave trash or food laying out a hungry bear will come and check it out. Keep your backcountry clean, don't burn trash PACK IT OUT.

I love the GSMNP and I don't agree with everything park officials do but we must understand every action causes a reaction. If you wanna appreciate the park more, get involved with the NPS and do some volunteer work for a day it will help you better appreciate "your park"

David Knapp
01-09-2011, 11:28 PM
Well I hope this don't make anyone mad but here is my opinion. I think much of the problem lies within the retards who use these backcountry sites. On several occasions I have found abandoned coolers at sites as well as beer cans, bottles etc, I have found beenie weenie and vieanna sausage cans tossed in fire pits. I have found cotton clothes and unerwear YUCK left behind.

My tent was destroyed by a bear two years ago because of this very problem. You hit the nail on the head. People want to leave their trash in the backcountry, a bear comes and digs it up, gets frustrated because there was nothing to eat, sits on a tent (literally, the Park has recorded video of bears doing this, seemingly for the entertainment only), and the site is closed for the next month. The bear didn't want anything in the tent, it just sat on it for fun I guess... Pack it in, pack it OUT!!! Until we can keep morons from entering the backcountry and doing this, we will have problem bears.

Jim Casada
01-10-2011, 08:50 AM
Plateau Angler and Spotlight--I wholeheartedly agree that slobs (and it seems that a prepondereance, although by no means all, of them ride horseback to campsites), are a significant problem. The flip side of that, and it goes back to my argument about the lack of presence of rangers in the backcountry, is that if they were checked occasionally and written citations which resulted in hefty fines, much of this would cease. I know enough about n'er-do-well locals to appreciate the fact that when a ranger does his job the word gets out in a hurry.

Just ask about the name Bud Cantrell on the N. C. side. I'll guarantee there are plenty of folks who remember him. Incidentally, he hurt his career, big-time, by writing up a bunch of political bigwigs who broke some regulations. The fact that it hurt his career, to me, speaks all the worst things about the Park mindset. I hope this kind of thing is gone, but I doubt it.

Finally, I totally agree that it's up to those of us who cherish to Park to do (and say) our piece. In that regard, I've written so many letters over the years to Park bureaucrats regarding horse usage that I've felt like giving up. I get a standard response to the effect it's traditional, they are Park users too, etc. In truth they are ignoring major damage done by horses (they absolutely eat up trails in steeper slope situations, soon turning them to ditches, leave campsites smelly, the corn they bring in to feed them draws bears, I don't think their fecal matters ever gets buried the way that of any conscientious camper does, etc.

Come to think of it though, horses give me another subject to write on in the series I'm doing for the Tuck Reader on problems in paradise. This week's piece, scheduled to apear Thursday, will be on otters. I know some of you think I've got a bee in my bonnet on them and that they are largely a non-issue, but visit the Tuck Reader and I might give you some reasons to reconsider.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

spotlight
01-10-2011, 07:29 PM
I asked a ranger one time at the new #21 Husky Gap why they couldn't just do some of the things that needed to be done. He was former Gatlinburg police officer. His answer was well when I was in the police department we just did those things that needed to be done, but now that he worked for the government things were different. He said first they would have to launch a study to determine what needed to be done I stopped him there and said say no more, I totally understand.

David Knapp
01-10-2011, 11:51 PM
Jim,

I agree that horses destroy trails, but the site I had trouble at was not a horse camp... I think a lot of the problem is with easily accessible sites. Horses simply make lots of sites easily accessible...

David Knapp

fearnofishbob
01-11-2011, 10:03 PM
Rainbow, I startd backpacking the Smokys in 1959, I've been on most all of them. I have had boats & motors stolen on Hazel, I been flooded out on Hazel in '03 when the second bridge got washed out. We were camped at Sugar Fork and watched it rain for 32 straight hours and we had to evacuate camp and just barley made it out before the bridge went !
My favorite by far would either be Forney or Deep Creek. Forney can be hiked to or by boat. If you really want to go to Eagle the marina at the dam will ferry you over for $50.00/ head round trip. You tell them when you want to go in and come out..
If you don't mind the hike I'd go to The Bryson Place on Deep Creek ( don't know the site number) There is some absolutely great fishing on the head waters of this creek.. Forney Creek can be accessed from the "Road to Nowhere" ..........give me a call and I'll help you all I can...........Bob............828-627-6692

Rainbow Warrior
01-11-2011, 11:05 PM
Bob, thanks for the info...It must have been pretty wild as well when hazel flooded! I will probably give you a call sometime closer to the trip. I like your idea about forney creek. I was starting to lean towards it. As for everyone else, thanks for your replies! Jim that article was very interesting. I am already starting to wish it was already april! haha, but I know there will be some good fishing between then and now. Tight lines...
Garrett