Thanks Phoneman. Just got back from the weekend camping trip. Cataloochee is absolutely beautiful. We were fishing with elk roaming all around us. My buddy completed a slam on Saturday with a 9.5 inch bow and an amazing 7.5" brookie, and a few small browns. I had a brown on that was close to 10", and when I bent over to net it, it flipped over and out popped the hook. I am already making my plans to go back there the last weekend in Sept. I went with four other people, and all of us had our licenses checked at random locations and times. It makes me feel good that they really are trying to keep the system healthy. We had numerous people ask us about fishing in there and how easy it would be to use live bait.
All in all, it was a good weekend. The water temps down in the valley are still a little high, and the fish were not very active down low. We all used a green weenie at some point, but no fish came on it. No hatches of significant size could be seen coming off. About 90% of the fish caught we taken on a BHPT.
I could not believe how isolated this area was. I took exit 451 and had to drive the 16 mile gravel road, and only passed one car the whole way. As I was leaving yesterday, I went out via exit 20 in NC, and only passed three cars the entire drive. It is good to have a place where one can camp and fish and actually be at peace doing so. I forsee many more trips to Cataloochee. Wonderful streams, plentiful trout, elk roaming freely, and the peacefulness that I commonly relate to the Smokies. I would compare it to Cades Cove without the traffic and only about 10% of the crowd.
Note to anyone going to Cataloochee: If you choose to take exit 451 allow for about one hour of travel time from the interstate. If you choose to take exit 20 the driving time is about 30 minutes, however the gravel portion is narrower and in much worse condition due to the campers and RV's making the journey up the mountain.