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.
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.
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!