Day hike help!
I've been a reader of this forum for sometime, never posted though. I love all the fishing reports/journals of trips into the backcountry. I've been to the SMNP numberous times but it is usually in the winter time and have never had great fishing luck.
I have a 1st time opportunity to fish the park the middle of next week and was hoping for some helpful advice. I'm not here asking for secret spots or anything, just some advice to make my short 2 days of fishing enjoyable.
I'm planning on camping at Elkmont, and day hiking up the little river. I don't have the right equipment to hike into the back country such as light weight tent, cooking equipment, etc. that's why I can only do day hikes for this trip. I've poured thru 3 books about fishing the smokies(plan on picking up Jim Casada's book when I stop by LRO), my back issues of Eastern Fly Fishing magazine trying to plan for this short but much anticipated trip. Was wondering if anyone can help me out with a few questions I've been unable to answer:
1) I was planning on showing up at Elkmont campground on Tuesday, May 4th, in the late afternoon. From what I can gather, there is no way to reserve a campsite this early in the year. Does the campground usually have tent sites available this time of year during the week?
2) For day hikes, would a different spike camp such as Cataloochee be better instead of Elkmont?
3) Will it be warm enough the 1st week of May to wet wade(I'm in central Ohio) or should I just plan on backpacking in my waders and boots?
4) Does anyone here have a CCW, do you carry in the park for security? (ps. I've never seen a thread on here or heard anything that would suggest there is anything to worry about in the park, just asking.)
I was planning on hitting the little river 1st day. Hiking upstream and start fishing around Husky Branch and work my way up to Fish Camp Prong.
5) Is this doable on a day hike???
Any suggestions would be great, I love the area and can't wait to spend some time down there. Once I show up on Tuesday, I've got Wednesday and Thursday to fish. Then I have to be in Charlotte NC Friday afternoon. Was hoping to hit a couple of streams close to the road around Asheville NC during the day.
Thanks in advance,
1. You should have no problem finding a tent site during the middle of the week at this time of year. After school let's out will be a different story.
2. Both Elkmont and Cataloochee are great and you can not go wrong either way.
3. If the weather warms up a tad and stays that way you will probably be fine wet wading. That said, I haven't yet taken the plunge yet this year. I'm never in the water much. Last Saturday, in waders, I was a little warm while walking in but on Wednesday it was much more comfortable.
4. I do have a CC. You have nothing to worry about as far a security goes. You can't shoot the snakes or ticks.
5. Both of those options will require a pretty good hike and you will be skipping over a lot of really great water to get there.
Hope this helps. Feel free to email if you have any other questions.
I'd say shoot for Elkmont you should have no problem at all I was there today and they have opened up another area there were plenty of sites.
As far as the gun no need leave it at home.
I would bring the waders you can fish longer and more comfortable with them.
No sense in wasting a day away hiking there is plenty of great water to fish right through the campground.
There is some nice water that can be reached easy just up Little River Trail. enjoy your trip.
A few answers...
Drew, here are my opinions (for what they are worth...).
1) Mid-week, early in May you won't have a problem getting a site in Elkmont
2) I have never fished Cataloochee, but from what most folks say it can be unpredictable. I think LR at and above Elkmont is a great bet...
3) I wet waded in the rain for 3 hours yesterday with no problems. Whatever your preference is, you could do either, at this point...but its not too cold...
4) I'll let others comment on that one...
5) This is a fair amount of water to try and cover in one day, but it is doable and is a great section of the stream. If you hike fairly fast you can be to Husky Branch in about 40 minutes...you'll need to look away as you hike up the trail because there is a LOT of nice water along the way...but the farther you hike the dumber the fish...and the fewer fishermen you will see...so I say do it!...
A couple pieces of advice to maximize your catching...the fish are skittish in the Park, so stay as hidden as possible, limit your false casts, don't cast shadows and don't waste your time. Pick the spots that look most fishy and cast there a few times and if you get no rises, move on...If you don't get any strikes in 15-20 minutes, change your fly, but remember that presentation (and drag - or lack thereof) are more important than anything else to fish in the backcountry.
When you arrive on Tuesday, setup camp and go fishing...late afternoons and evenings are some of the best times to fish in the Park...Since you are already at Elkmont, go over Newfound Gap and fish up Deep Creek for awhile before driving to Charlotte on Friday...You didn't say where you were coming from or what type of license you will purchase, but if you purchase a TN license you can fish the NC side of the Park as well (but not outside it)...If you purchase an NC license you could fish around Asheville and the TN side of the Park...
And welcome to the Forum!
I want to thank all who have posted, it really gives me a leg up on my trip and it's nice to post on a forum for the 1st time and not get any hate.
After my trip I post a report, if anyone is in the area stop and say hi. I drive a 4 door 2006 tan tacoma with a matching bed cap. DU & TU stickers on the rear.
I'll echo all of the previous comments, Esp. PeteCz but also comment that the WATER TEMP is more important than the air. I'd still stay "lower" and fish just above Elkmont, I like the water up higher but its still spring. Start out nymphing in Mornings and watch for bugs on the water. I was there two weeks ago, even with QG's on top, the trout wanted a QG wet fly (emerger).
Wet wading is a personal perference. I used to more but found my feet ache and I get clumsy if not careful. Definitely wear felt soles!!
Watch out for snakes- they are there even though you probably won't see them! As far as carrying a weapon, I defer to bear spray. I had a ranger in Wyoming tell it works on Buffalo, Moose, People and Bear. I've had two incidents with being approached by bear up there, neither one required using spray.
Tight line and enjoy
Love Elkmont....all depends on how much you want to hike before giving in to temptation...it's 3.7 miles to Fish Camp Prong and the hike is not bad...always quicker coming out...best fishing now is later in the day so hiking a little more may be beneficial and you can hit some of the spots you passed up on the way out....I have always wet waded up there because you are not in the water all the time...some people I fish with will pack in their waders and fishing boots and change when they get ready to fish...I hike in wearing my boots and a pair of nylon fishing pants...more you pack in the more you have to carry out...campground does present good fishing....after you set up camp cross over the bridge and hike down to the lower end of the campground and fish back up.
Hey Drew, shoot me an e-mail if ya want I will be up around Elkmont that Tuesday or Wednesday...... pending decent weather I'll gladly stop by and say hi.
Fish Camp Prong is some of the worst looking water I've ever seen in the Park. You definitely don't want to fish there! ;)
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