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Old 08-10-2010, 02:47 PM
MBB MBB is offline
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Default Access to Smokies Streams through Cherokee Reservation

Does anyone know if there is a problem accessing streams in the Smokies through the Cherokee Indian reservation? There are several streams that I would like to try, but the best access is through the reservation. To compound the problem, fishing in all of these streams seem to be restricted to Members of the Cherokee tribe on the reservation.

Would there be a problem hiking upstream even if I wasn't fishing? I thought about buying a permit just to act in good faith even though I was not going to fish Enterprise Waters.
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:07 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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MBB--Interesting problem and one I have pondered a bit. You don't mention which streams you have in mind but the most obvious ones are the Park portions of Bunches Creek and Raven Fork. Since I never fish the Reservation waters I'm not sure if the "open to the public with permits" fishing on either goes all the way to the Park line, but a look at the free map Tribal fisheries provides would tell you. There are some streams on the Reservation set aside solely for tribal members, and I tend to think that Raven Fork at the point where it adjoins the Park is one of them. I know that is the case with Straight Fork from its juncture with Raven Fork to the Park line.

You might want to try to talk to Robert Blankenship or the fellow who heads the Tribal Fisheries program (can't recall his name off the top of my head) and see what they say. Frankly, I'd also worry a bit about leaving a vehicle in the two places I mention above.

Finally, if you do figure out a way to get into Raven Fork at the Park boundary, be aware of the fact that you are entering really remote and rugged country. You will be in "The Gorges" in fairly short order, and there is no place anywhere in the Park which is tougher going. I definitely wouldn't advise doing it by yourself, and unless you are reasonably fit and a lot more "catty" than this 68-year-old, don't do it at all. There are places--lots of them--where the only real way to progress upstream is to swim. The banks on either side are that steep and some of the pools are over your head.
Hope this helps a bit, and if you pursue it, I'd love to know what you learn. There is, I might add, another way into Bunches Creek (although the way back out isn't exactly easy).
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:13 PM
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duckypaddler duckypaddler is offline
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Default You will most likely have problems

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Originally Posted by MBB View Post
Does anyone know if there is a problem accessing streams in the Smokies through the Cherokee Indian reservation? There are several streams that I would like to try, but the best access is through the reservation. To compound the problem, fishing in all of these streams seem to be restricted to Members of the Cherokee tribe on the reservation.

Would there be a problem hiking upstream even if I wasn't fishing? I thought about buying a permit just to act in good faith even though I was not going to fish Enterprise Waters.
Like you said you will be on waters restricted to Cherokee Indians (not public. Local who married an Indian even can't fish there himself, and his kids can't either unless she is present - they are pretty strict about this) until you get unto the park so even with a permit you would be in the wrong. Maybe if you weren't rigged up & ran into the right person, you might be Ok, but I wouldn't chance it. Unless you have landowner permission to access, or want to risk being in streambed and getting all your gear confiscated, and a hefty ticket I wouldn't do it. Plus this is all small potatoes compared to the locals at the trailer park at the mouth of one of these fine streams. Step out of the streambed there and you "really" might get shot. And I promise I'm not blowing smoke up your #$@, really be careful
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Old 08-10-2010, 04:22 PM
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duckypaddler duckypaddler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Casada View Post
MBB--Interesting problem and one I have pondered a bit. You don't mention which streams you have in mind but the most obvious ones are the Park portions of Bunches Creek and Raven Fork. Since I never fish the Reservation waters I'm not sure if the "open to the public with permits" fishing on either goes all the way to the Park line, but a look at the free map Tribal fisheries provides would tell you. There are some streams on the Reservation set aside solely for tribal members, and I tend to think that Raven Fork at the point where it adjoins the Park is one of them. I know that is the case with Straight Fork from its juncture with Raven Fork to the Park line.

You might want to try to talk to Robert Blankenship or the fellow who heads the Tribal Fisheries program (can't recall his name off the top of my head) and see what they say. Frankly, I'd also worry a bit about leaving a vehicle in the two places I mention above.

Finally, if you do figure out a way to get into Raven Fork at the Park boundary, be aware of the fact that you are entering really remote and rugged country. You will be in "The Gorges" in fairly short order, and there is no place anywhere in the Park which is tougher going. I definitely wouldn't advise doing it by yourself, and unless you are reasonably fit and a lot more "catty" than this 68-year-old, don't do it at all. There are places--lots of them--where the only real way to progress upstream is to swim. The banks on either side are that steep and some of the pools are over your head.
Hope this helps a bit, and if you pursue it, I'd love to know what you learn. There is, I might add, another way into Bunches Creek (although the way back out isn't exactly easy).
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
If you are going to the "gorges" bring a rope I guarantee you will need a buddy to climb on his shoulders so that you can get up the streambed, and a rope to pull your buddy up. A fellow I fish with has a funny story about his first time there and really being under prepared. Luckily a strong belt was worn by one and got them up stream. After many hours they got through the "gorge" and arrived at the campsite. While I think they initially intended to hike back downstream, my buddy said he didn't care how long it was and hiked the trail as well as 5 to 6 miles of road in the dark. He said it was spooky and there were some mean dogs. YMMV. Just be careful and go with someone who is fit. Have someone to drop you off and park at Hyatt Ridge trailhead with other car. Like Jim said - This is the most rugged place in the Park. And like my previous post said. Watch yourself on access
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:11 AM
MBB MBB is offline
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Thanks for the information guys. The primary stream is Bunches, though I am also interested in Stillwell Creek. I have heard before that going up through Raven Fork gorge was unadvisable so that wasn't in my plans.

Jim, do you know another way to Bunches other than the upper trail that takes you to Flat Creek? I have heard there is a way from the Masonic monument, but never tried to see if there was a manway there or not. I will thank you ahead of time for your help.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:18 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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MBB--The route you mention is the one I had in mind. As for the alternative one you mention (not known to me), my suggestion would be to wait until late fall (after the leaves are down) and maybe try a bushwhacking expedition if you are good with a GPS and comfortable in such approaches. I'll try to ask my brother, Don, who has hiked every maintained trail in the Park and a lot which aren't maintained, about this. He may have some thoughts, and if so, I'll post them.
Jim Casada
P. S. Your decision on Raven Fork is an eminently sensible one.
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:27 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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MBB--As I suspected would be the case, my brother was able to give me detailed thoughts on accessing upper Bunches Creek. It's a fairly long e-mail and I can't figure out how to cut-and-paste it here. If you will e-mail me directly (jimcasada@comporium.net) I'll forward it to you. No doubt you'll be able to figure out the technical details of posting it. I'm marginally literate (at best) when it comes to computers.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:44 PM
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Jim, came across your post reference your brothers email on Bunches Creek. Ronnie Parris and I are planning to do this trip and camp for waters not fished. Would you be kind enough to provide the email and any guidance for this trip.
Heading Bryson way this weekend to get 10 doz. Royal Stimulators that have just been tied for this years fishing by a local friend that Ronnie played H.S. Football with
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:08 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Breck--I'm not clear whether you want my e-mail, that of my brother, Don, or that for Ronnie Parris. Just let me know (my e-mail is jimcasada@comporium.net) and I'll try to help out.
Who is the fly tier?
Jim Casada
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:01 AM
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T.E.Shuler T.E.Shuler is offline
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There are three local tiers in Bryson City who sell flies. James Conner, Richard Bowers, and Robert Shuler. The fly tier is probably Richard Bowers. He just lives a bit farther up the road from Ronnie, and I think they are about the same age. I see Richard most days, he still ties some of the best Smokies patterns I've seen. James still ties every day, and Robert stopped a couple years back because of his arthritis. I don't sell any that I tie. It takes the fun out of it for me.

Getting into Raven Fork can be done a couple ways. The guys who kayak the gorge section have made freinds with the Cherokee man who owns the land on the lower end you have to cross to get access to the stream. I don't remember his name right off. He's a pretty decent guy, and is in one of the new kayaking films produced this past year. If you go to Boater Talk, and American Whitewater, you maybe able to get some "beta" on raven Fork and contact info for the land owner there. Most folks start on Straight Fork below Round Bottom and cross the ridge to Raven. Its a nice little hike.
Before you guys go, and I know Ronnie ia aware of this, but watch the weather closely. If we get rain, the gorges get nasty very fast. More flash floods happen there than any other area. Many of the old timers here call that area "the water bowls", and the stories of flooding and drownings are many, eerie, and probably true. I've witnessed first hand three of these floods in as many years. I would hate to be in the gorges if it happened as it would be fatal.
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Last edited by T.E.Shuler; 01-17-2012 at 05:23 AM..
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