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HuskerFlyFisher 03-14-2014 06:48 PM

Report from today at Big Creek!
I’ve always wondered about Big Creek. Having a cabin on the eastern side of the Smokies, I woke up today with the intent of exploring this stream. Since we have had a cold snap in the Smokies, I decided to wait until around noon today – until things warmed up – to get onto the water.

I drove on I-40 from Cosby to the Waterville Electric Generator, and headed right from there. I was immediately struck by the beauty of this tumbling stream. The boulders are many and massive. As I approached the picnic area, there were only a handful of cars as this most picturesque of places.

I started fishing right next to the picnic area and hiked up likely three quarters of a mile.

Some observations:

1. Big Creek is steep and treacherous. I was fishing alone and won’t do it again on this watershed: You can hurt yourself on Big Creek, and you need someone with you to fish this stream.

2. You will do lots of rock-hopping. There are portions of the stream where you really have to do so planning as to how exactly that you intend to move up the stream. Sometimes you are absolutely forced to cross fast water in order to keep moving. You will also be climbing over and crawling under dead wood.

3. There are many runs, riffles, and most of all, deep plunge pools. This stream is more of a cascade than anything else. The water is moving very fast. I kept thinking I would reach a slow portion but never did.

As for the fishing, I scanned the waters before I fished and while there were insect hatches, there were no trout feeding on the top. So, I outfitted with a dropper rig, running a nymph about 20 inches below the dry.

I fished for 3.5 hours and never managed even a strike until 335, when I finally got a strike and landed a 5 inch trout. I tried different bug combinations, but for whatever reason the fish weren’t cooperating.

Big Creek reminds me of a girl I pursued in high school. She was beautiful in all the right places, and I made all the right moves and spent lots of money on the date, but she didn’t put out. :rolleyes:

Big Creek appears to be a great trout stream, but I got a whole lot of nothing, and trust me, every pool you fish in this watershed, you are going to earn it on your journey to it.

Getting a good drift is very, very difficult because the water is so fast.

There are many streams in the Smokies I have yet to fish, but so far, Big Creek I would rate as the most difficult. I am sure there are fish in there and good days are to be had, but it’s difficult nonetheless, due to the fact that it is steep and treacherous.

I feel fortunate that I sit here in my cabin without so much as a bruise, but breaking an arm, wrist, leg, or dislocating your hip ain’t out of the question when you venture up to Big Creek!

g022271 03-15-2014 12:44 AM

Husker, I've fished Big Creek 3 times and have caught a total of 6 fish there and those came on the last 2 trips. Your analysis regarding the difficulty is accurate. It's a tough stream to get access to and to fish ...But you may want to give it another chance and go up the trail and fish the Midnight hole and a couple of other pools there about 1 3/4 miles toward Lower Walnut Bottoms. The water there is accessible and there are fish there for sure; to fish this pool , you have to be able to wade more than i am able to. But these pools are where I have caught the fish on Big Creek.

P.S. BE sure and go early the later in the year you go due to swimmers..

Don Kirk 03-15-2014 08:07 AM

Sounds like Big Creek...
If fishing were as productive at Big Creek as the stream is scenic, wouldn't that be dandy. Years ago I fished there a lot. I've had a few good days there, but more poor to mediocre days than about anywhere else in the park. I have theorized that the high gradient and low fertility prevent a lot in the way of trout foods from prospering here. In those days fishing got a bit better a couple miles upstream. I am not sure now if it is as true as it was then, but once you get a mile or two up the trail, you have the creek to yourself.

WRN 03-15-2014 10:41 AM

Big Creek Fishing
I you get on the trail at the campground and go upstream at around one mile the trail and creek level off together. The going gets a little safer! Like the other members said I think the catching also gets better.

duckypaddler 03-15-2014 11:07 PM

Thanks for the report:biggrin:

That section you fished the Kayaker's call "Action Alley" that tend to put a beating on many a good boater.

I think you assessment of the lower might be somewhat accurate, but if you willing to hike in past Walnut Bottoms you'd change your tune;)

I always thought the way the stream lays with all the perfectly rounded over rocks and being so open makes it even harder for one to hide from the trout.

g022271 03-16-2014 01:07 AM

Ducky, I've camped quite a few times at Lower Walnut Bottoms in my pre-flyfishing days and now I wonder if it would be worth it to camp there this Spring to fish around that area.If my memory serves me right , I think there is quite a bit of water right there pretty near to the campsites .


duckypaddler 03-16-2014 08:43 AM


Originally Posted by g022271 (Post 109969)
Ducky, I've camped quite a few times at Lower Walnut Bottoms in my pre-flyfishing days and now I wonder if it would be worth it to camp there this Spring to fish around that area.If my memory serves me right , I think there is quite a bit of water right there pretty near to the campsites .


Swallow Fork, Gunter Fork, Big Creek proper, and if your really ambitious you may make it all the way to yellow creek.:biggrin:

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