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Old 10-31-2011, 10:46 AM
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Talking Left Fork of Deep Creek beat us up, stole our lunch money, and broke my rod

Well it was time to knock a stream off Freddieís bucket list and with the awesome reputation of this gem of a stream, amongst perfect conditions surely it would be a fantastic day, or so we thought. Freddie and I had made an attempt in late October 2009, but never made it to the stream that day after following some bad advice in a popular fishing guide. However, this time, we were armed with much better beta which also included a good out, well relatively speaking, and we were determined to give it a go.

I woke up with my stomach not feeling the best, and almost called Freddie to cancel, but with a high of 75, I knew I might not get another chance like this in years so I decided to push on through. As I drove to Freddieís house I had to take 275, because there was an accident on 640, and was running late. Freddie was ready to go and he offered to drive. We headed through Pigeon Forge and easily made it to the bypass and were soon in the park. After following G-pa for several miles up the mountainside, we were finally able to pass and we pushed right up the mountain. We were soon high atop the Deep Creek Trailhead, ready for an awesome daytrip. The peak colors up top have passed a few weeks ago, but the views around 3000í we very nice. As we dropped down the switchbacks, I recalled our last trip hiking out with a full backpack, running a fever with strep throat, a little dizzy at times, and hoped todayís hike out would be much easier. We made it down to Poke Patch in a little over an hour and a half, and rigged up for our day.



Freddie was pretty much set to go just changing out his tennis shoes for his wading boots. I, on the other hand, packed all my regular fishing stuff in my daypack, and needed a few minutes to gear up. Freddie through a few casts in Deep Creek proper, and while getting a strike, didnít manage to land anything. We quickly headed up Fork Ridge trail to Deep Creek Gap.



This time we did not follow the ďrough , virtually indiscernible fishermanís trail going to the rightĒ, which led us to several hours of crawling through rhodo, but instead dropped off heading straight down bearing the opposite direction into a less steep draw.



At first the forest was open, but quickly turned to a battle with the rhodo beast at the bottom. After climbing our way through, we were soon rewarded with the lovely openness of the Left Fork. It was a little smaller than I imagined it to be, and was the perfect size stream in my opinion.



It was really starting to warm up, and I could see sun on the water ahead. Hopefully there would be a beautiful spawning Brown waiting on me. I figured it might be slow fishing, especially at first, but the fishing was extremely slow. Water temp was 52, sun was shining, bugs were hatching, but the fish didnít like what we have to offer. We even contemplated hiking out at one point, but after a look at the GPS, it was at a place where the trail pulled far away from the creek, and with super thick rhodo we quickly concluded hiking out there was not a good option, and relied on the good beta from the tree huggers. We did each land a handful of fish, but considering the price of admission to this place hardly seemed worth it.



We didnít even get to catch a Brown that day, or even spook one for that matter, which was a bit disappointing. Once it became apparent that the fishing wasnít getting much better we just walked upstream hitting the bigger pools. We came up what may have been the remnants of a splash dam, but this was also over a mile away from the description I have read, so maybe there is a better one upstream. I wasnít sure if it was one for sure, but you could see a notch carved out in the tree, that convinced me.



We soon found a piece of green rope that looked like it couldnít have been there long (maybe a bear hang for some campers?) that we took down. Then at the spot I (before I got the good beta) thought we wanted to hike out on I saw a piece of flagging. It was simply marking to go right at the island, but I first thought it was someone elseís out and after looking at the super thick rhodo there, it didnít have me eager to hike out there so we continued upstream. We finally hit the prominent bend below Keg Drive, and started searching for our way out. While the rhodo was decently thick at the bend, it was a little better a few hundred yards up, and soon opened up to doghobble in the flats.



While that was nice and open, it soon led us to the steep mountainside that we would have to crawl up. While up until this trip I have had no problem hiking in and out in my wading boots. Today with a fresh coat of fallen leaves, it was slicker than (your word choice here)! You know itís bad when youíre looking forward to hitting a thicket of mountain laurel simply because you will have better hand holds and that you are on an adventure.




Continued in next post
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:50 AM
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Smile Continued


We slowly worked our way up the almost 500 vertical feet, and it seemed like you would slip with almost every step. Towards the top I busted out the GPS to find out how much further it was. When I told Freddie we were only 80 feet away, he was hoping I wasnít talking vertical feet, but was glad to be mostly up the slope. My rod was also fine at this point. The laurel was thick towards the top and you would just push your body through dead branches making a path as you went. I was relieved to see the trail as was Freddie



Must pay in blood!



Unfortunately my fishing rod didnít fare as well as one of the pieces had snapped off. We then walked a mile or so on Fork Ridge back to Poke patch where we rested and chatted with two hikers that were camping there for the night. After 10 minutes we geared up and headed the 4 miles back up the mountain to the car. We made it from Poke patch to the trailhead in an hour and 40 minutes, which I thought was spectacular time, and we didnít even need to pull out the flashlights that I thought might be needed. While it was a great day in the Smokies, and a wonderful place to visit, the fishing was extremely slow, and we didnít see let alone catch any spawning Browns. Maybe we were too early for the spawn, maybe the otters ate all the Browns, maybe we just had an off day, or maybe it was one of the other thousands of factors that form these complex ecosystems. While Iím not sure of the reason, Freddie said it was two trips in one for him (His first and last). Well that is until we have better beta that the fishing here still is really good. So with this stream being so remote, I encourage others who have experience here to speak up and let us know if the lure is legend or reality. Could this be another place Browns are starting to dissappear?

In the past few days there has been much discussion about guidebooks, and accurate information. While I have stayed out of the discussion I will chime in here. Apparently, I was one of the final reasons Mr. Casada no longer posts here. While at many times his posts would make me roll my eyes, or simply cause me to stop reading, other times I would find myself completely agreeing with him. I am sorry for being part of the reason he no longer posts here. While I never got to read his farewell post before it was pulled by Paula, I was told from another forum member that I upset him with a comment I made about how I didnít think he had been to the upper Left Fork in some time, or was relying on Bobby Kilbyís notes. In hindsight, I see how he took this as being an attack on his home water, and maybe I was just a little bitter about wasting a half day and several hours crawling through rhodo after following his direction. I apologize for my comment since it obviously upset him. I would also like to say that every hiking and fishing guide and even the USGS topos in the Smokies are sometimes wrong. While I am a proponent of accurate information, I would still recommend Jim guidebook to anyone, and really love the historical perspective, and itís loaded with great pictures. We stopped by Corkyís for some food on the way home. As we waited for dinner I picked 4 good thorns out of my head, and discussed maybe doing some tail water fishing next week.

Even more pics (All taken by Freddie Ė Thanks!) at:
http://www.duckypaddler.com/left-fork-of-deep-creek.html
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:03 AM
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NDuncan NDuncan is offline
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Looks a like sweet place! I've been wanting to do that trip for a while, maybe next year.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:26 AM
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An absolute entertaining report with pictures.

Thanks for sharing

Last edited by Mac; 10-31-2011 at 05:35 PM..
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:25 PM
Crockett Crockett is offline
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Nice dp did you see Tsali rock?
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Last edited by Crockett; 10-31-2011 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:35 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Duckypaddler--First of all, I will acknowledge I was upset by your post about Left Fork, because I've fished there countless times in my life and feel I know the area as well as any in the remote backcountry of the Park. Second, this is my first post in many months, and it comes because Byron convinced me to return and your apology helped in that regard. Apology duly accepted, and I appreciate your kind words about my book.

Now, let's turn to the matter of accessing (and leaving) Left Fork. I was some concerned about what you said about being misled that I just went back and carefully re-read my material on Left Fork, along with re-reading yours, and I am a little mystified about why you felt I misled you. Maybe you meant about the quality of the fishing as opposed to the geography. As for the former, using the Deep Creek Gap access is unquestionably the best way to get to the middle section of the stream. You can hear the creek from the Gap, and if you pay attention going down (and this is best done right where the trail from Poke Patch comes out to the Fork Ridge Trail) it is possible to get there without having trouble with rhododendron hells or much of anything other than maybe a log jam or two from fallen hemlocks.

It sounds to me that where you ran into trouble was not so much getting to the creek but rather getting from it back to the Fork Ridge Trail. I didn't mislead you in that regard, but I will readily admit that I should have said something about the best way out. It definitely isn't trying to scale the ridge from where you stop fishing back to the trail. Instead, it is much easier to retrace one's footsteps down the stream and return to the trail at the same place you dropped off at Deep Creek Gap. This is where Left Fork is closest to the trail, and it's much easier to hike up here than to bushwhack upstream. I know, because I've made the same "mistake" you did, not once but twice over the years, in thinking I could just do a bit of climbing at that would be that. If I ever revise the book I'll definitely say "retrace your footsteps." Also, it could probably be suggested with some justice that getting bitten by the same dog twice wasn't one of my more intelligent moments. About all I can say is that I remembered old-time hunters such as Mark Cathey and Sam Hunnicutt talking about egress around Keg Drive Branch and I let that inveigle me into terrain better suited to a billy goat that a human (and that goat better be prepared to eat lots of laurel on the way uphill).

If you felt you were misled because of my description of the fishing, that's another matter entirely. For reasons I don't pretend to understand, and other fishermen who spend a lot of time in the stream completely agree with me, Deep Creek has declined appreciably in recent years--it is especially noticeable in the last five or six. I've noticed it most in the lower regions but the situation prevails everywhere. I participated in a Park stream survey on the lower end of Deep Creek for two days back in August, and Matt Kulp sent me the results just last week. They pretty much mirror findings from a 1985 survey, but I know that for me fishing is infinitely less productive. Other locals such as Jim Estes and Jim Mills echo my thoughts on this. Maybe I've lost much of whatever ability I ever had, but given the fact I don't seem to have trouble elsewhere, that really isn't likely the case. All I know is that it is troubling and that I'm not the only one who has noticed the decline. I do find it strange you had no brown trout action, because browns are definitely a major part of the Deep Creek picture, from the mouth of the creek upstream.

I realize this won't extract any thorns or repair any rod tips, but hopefully if will provide something by way of an explanation.
Jim Casada
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:48 PM
Crockett Crockett is offline
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Welcome back Jim I am very glad to see you back on here. Maybe you are human and not always right but I usually learn something from your posts. It's interesting that the numbers were the same as the 1985 survey there. Are the numbers the same when broken down by species also? What about Indian Creek I know you fish it fairly often has it also declined in your opinion?
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:59 PM
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Mr. Cascada

i have to reply and express that i am extremely pleased to have your input on this forum again.
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:02 PM
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Great report,

I had been missing your posts Mr. Casada, I am glad you are back.

Adam, I fished Indian Creek three weeks ago both above and below the new site 46. I worked really hard fishing it on Saturday and caught only one tiny (albeit beautiful) 'bow. I raced down the trail Sunday morning ahead of the group I was with and caught several fish in Lower Deep Creek in less than an hour.. In my limited experience, the fishing on Lower Deep Creek, (whether worse now or not) is far better than Indian Creek, your mileage may vary.. However if fishing isn't a sole priority, or you still want to give Indian Creek a try; campsite 46 is LOADED with nice firewood logs which can be hard to come by when camping in the Winter.. I'm not certain if the wood is left from when they created the site 2 years ago or what; but there are nice stacked woodpiles all over the area. The bad thing about 46 is that it is very hard to find level ground, but that won't be an issue for hangers..
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:56 PM
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Glad to read your posts again Jim. I also am an old History teacher. I enjoy the Historical aspects almost as much as the fishing.
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