Has anyone fished Bone Valley north of Hazel? My buddy and I are thinking about in for a weekend trip. We are planning on getting to the Smokies middle of next week. Will the fishing be good this early in the season or should we stay in lower elevation? We've hiked the Smokies since high school and try to get down there at least once a year. This will be my friends first try at flyfishing so I would like to be able to get a handful of fish on the line to make sure he falls in love with his fly rod like I did the first time I hooked into a Smoky trout.
I haven't fished Bone Valley, I hope to sometime in May if a backcountry trip to Hazel Creek goes as planned. The key to successful fishing right now is water temperature, most people agree that the action doesn't begin to heat up until the water temp. reaches at least 50 degrees F for at least several days. When this happens the first spring hatches begin, Blue Quills, and Quill Gordons. I could be wrong, but I don't think that a headwater stream like Bone Valley will reach 50 degrees by the time of your trip. I would focus on the lower elevations streams on your visit, for example; Abrams Creek, the lower stretches of the Little River all the way up to the Elkmont campground, the Middle Prong of the Little River. I would keep track of fishing reports on the board and read Byron's Fishing Report every day before you arrive to get an idea whats happening with the water temps and any spring hatches that may be occurring. Hope this helps.
Man is everyone planning on doing this trip??? I'm going up there the last weekend in may for the first time (on bone valley that is). I've heard that the fishing there is good, but this is just heresay. Definitely let us know how you do if you go up there.
I hear the fishing on Bone Valley is good as well, I have also heard that snakes, bears, Bigfoot and the ghost of Horace Kephart can be very dangerous. Only the strongest and bravest should attempt a fishing excursion to this region of the Park.
Sorry, but I had to try some of the scare tactics I have seen used on some message boards, LOL.
For what it's worth. I have heard from a handful of local fishermen who has fished these mountains for many years that Yes! Hazel is good but not necessarily any better than say Deep Creek, Abrams, Little River etc. It has the potential as well as the others. It is probably the most legendary stream and also one of the most publicized streams. It is "toted" as the ultimate back country trip. I would like to do it as much for the scenery as the history of the area. I'm hoping to be there mid May. I also feel that the stream would have enough room for all of us. The only problem would be if a huge group from an organization or business are there at the same time as you. We all know that any time we go to the park it will be somewhat a shared experience, unless you do the less publicized streams.
Can't wait until May and yes I do agree with Neal. The water temps are not favorable yet. It might be alright on Lower Little River but as soon as you hit a somewhat higher elevation you will see lower temps. This upcoming weekend is calling for lows in the 20's again. Not good in my opinion.
Bone Valley, I have camped where Bone Valley joins Hazel, never fished very far up BV because Hazel is so pretty and much larger. I would bet the water will be a little cold this early, you might check to see if there has been snow within the last week in the high country, if so the stream could be in the 30's and real slow. I don't worry about the water hitting 50 degrees though, 40 really seems to turn them off in the Smokys but 45 is usually pretty good, particularly if you get some sun on the water. Take some parachute Adams, Quill Gordons, BWO's if you go. Hazel is beautiful, I have been up there five times but it has been too long, probably 6 or 7 years. The last time I went was late April and we hit the same weekend as the Atlanta TU'ers were up there. 40 plus people, a real downer. Caught some fish all the same until a gulley washer came through and muddied the stream. Take some beatles, they may save the day if the rain comes, fish them right against the bank. I don't think I have ever cleaned a fish from Hazel that didn't have a beatle in it, and usually a large one.
I spent the better part of a week on Hazel in 1997, it was OK, but I can park beside the road and find better solitude and fishing just as good, IMHO. Never traveled so far to be with so many other anglers. Place was a Zoo.
I have fished Bone Valley twice. I once did it on a long day trip (I was in decent shape back then) and the other time my group camped out at the Bone Valley Campsite. I fished up to the cabin there both times. As I recall, that is where the stream forks into tributaries.
Fishing was good, but not spectacular. I caught some nice numbers of rainbows and browns from 6" up to around 10 1/2" with an occassional small speck thrown in for variety.
I don't think I would spend more than one day on the stream, unless you are just having spectacular fishing. I would also try hitting Hazel a mile or so above the Bone Valley confluence. On my last trip, we hiked and fished up Hazel past the Calhoun campsite. At Calhoun, there were a group of horsemen there that brought in electric generators and were indulging in ice cream! That cracked me up.
Try to get to the BV campsite for a few days each year, usually in the fall. Is a truly magical place, and there are a lot of places to fish on Hazel, Cold Spring, and Bone Valley itself. Water is not very big, and in places is but inches wide and deep. Probably better in the spring. Lots of trout, but most in the 6" to 10" range, although there are some pools with browns. Tight spots, I usually use a 7'9' 3 wt in there. Well worth a day if you are on Hazel, and will support two fly fishers if you space yourselves out. I usually end up missing a lot of strikes there because of too much slack line, and not keeping the line off the water enough. Oh, and the fish are smaller and harder to hook, but does not mean they will not strike. Good luck. Skip Watson
I'm not sure I'd make another trip to Hazel... if I couldn't fish Bone Valley. It's just purty. My avitar is a picture of the cabin at the end of the trail.
One additional point other than those already made - it is a small stream and the trail only follows the stream for a mile. If you're not out early, you could find yourself fishing behind someone.
Back to indianafly's original post - IMHO next week is too early. Byron's reporting a water temp of 45 on Little River. I fished Deep Creek on the NC side on Monday and it measured mid-40's also. I would consider this to be a major trip and I don't think I'd invest in a $50 boat ride plus a 5 mile hike (or a really long hike) for what may be a marginal return. BV's only about 500 more feet in elevation, but that may be just enough to make a difference.
Maker's Mark and Bone Valley branch - mmmm... good. Ice cream at Calhoun - that's just wrong!