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Old 10-29-2007, 08:03 PM
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Default Backcountry Fishing Report, Campsite #47

Hello all, made it back late last night from a late season brookie trip deep into the backcountry of the smokies. Before i get started with the fishing report, i feel compelled to give this public service announcement:

The hike to the campsite, while not terribly long, is a grueling one. It's a very manageable 1.9 miles to the top of the ridge and then about another mile down to the campsite, however there is about a 1500' elevation change from the parking area to the top of the ridge. The hike is straight uphill and is relentless, there are no flat areas to catch a break, no switchbacks, nothing but one giant pull uphill. My partner in crime said that it was worse than the famed deep creek hike down from 441! From here on out, i have named the 1.9 mile hike up to the top of hyatt ridge "the devil's staircase." Also, i can't see this river as being manageable with the water levels normal to high. The only way to navigate is through the streambed as there is absolutely no trail access and there were several areas where we couldn't get around even with the water this low.

Now that i've bored you, i'll fill you in on the fishing. After the tough hike we set up camp and made it out on the water about 12 on saturday. Justin started out with a royal wulff while i tried a smbsh. Justin immediately pulled ahead quickly as the brookies seemed to flock to his dry with reckless abandon, i however was having no such luck. I quickly realized that i needed a change so after a short run with an ehc, i tied on a royal stimulator with a tellico dropper and immediately started to hook into fish on every hole and run. The fish had some absolutely beautiful spawning colors on them! We continued to work our way upstream picking up fish left and right. All were brookies until i managed a tiny rainbow, which was a surprise actually. Only one more rainbow was to be caught this trip and that was a beautiful 13" fish that succumbed to the tellico. He made a couple nice leaps out of the water before coming to hand and caused alot of excitement because at first i thought it was a brook! Not that i'm complaining for catching a 13" rainbow, but i nearly jumped out of my waders when i first saw him thrashing around under water and i just knew i had a trophy brook trout! The rest of the day was filled with great fishing and with the right cast and presentation, fish were coming to hand at an alarming rate.

We called it a day about 4 30 and headed back to camp so that we would have plenty of time to cook supper and get all our chores done. After relaxing a bit and meeting our campmate, a hearty soul who had hiked 19 miles from mt. sterling in one day, we set out for bed rather early a little tired but anticipating the day ahead.

Daylight broke about 7 30 and we were awoken to some chilly temperatures, but a beautiful fall morning. A nice hot breakfast was just what the doctor ordered and we headed downstream and ended up fishing a tributary to raven's fork, enloe creek. Fishing had definitely taken a downward turn from the day before as we struggled quite a bit to start the day off. I had been getting several strikes off the blackbird but they were very quick and jerky like the fish were extremely small and weren't grabbing the whole hook. Justin finally managed to land a couple before we decided to head back and fish around camp. We fished here for a short while, maybe an hour, and managed to pick up a few fish but our time was up and we had to get going to give us plenty of time to hike out and make the long drive home. Boy, although the mile hike up to the top of the ridge was tough, it was much easier coming back down the devil's staircase!

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. The fishing did not disappoint and the weather was picture perfect, you couldn't ask for better fall conditions. We didn't manage to catch or even see one of those trophy brook trout that i have heard rumors about coming from that stream, but i can guarantee that, with the way the river is, there are definitely some in there. Can't wait for another backcountry excursion, which may come real soon. I must say, though, that after eating oatmeal and meal replacement bars the whole trip, the first stop i made was at bojangles and it never tasted better! I hope everyone else got a chance to get out, enjoy the pics.

Craig

The aforementioned, "devil's staircase", it doesn't look bad unless you're there.......


Justin and the first brookie of the day


The bridge going over the river and to the campsite


This was probably below average sized fish for the trip


The river
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Old 10-29-2007, 08:06 PM
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The fall colors made the scenery even more breathtaking than normal


The big fish of the trip that was guesstimated possibly at 13", but an easy 12" for sure.


Justin fishing


View from sunday morning


Here i am stalking my prey. It's hard to tell from the pic, but this space was very cramped. I was crouching underneath that large rock and didn't have much room and trying to fish a small hole.
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Old 10-29-2007, 11:30 PM
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Wow...awesome pics. My oldest daughter has voiced an interest in fishing Raven Fork; we fish Straight Fork all the time, and we pass by the trailhead quite often. So far, we just haven't had the time, plus I don't think her younger sisters are up for such a slog. I knew it was quite a hike, but that one picture really does capture just how much uphill it is - daunting for flatlanders like us. However, I would like to try it sometime next year.
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Old 10-30-2007, 05:29 AM
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Well i don't know you or your daughter (although the saints helmet tells me alot about you..............jk), but i'd find it hard to recommend if your eldest daughter is still pretty young. The stream was downright dangerous in some portions even with the water being so low. The hike can be manageable, although it can be rough. Like i said, i would really only consider this trip during low water conditions and even a drought season like this year. It definitely is a beautiful place, however, and i can see why some of the area was spared by the widespread logging in the early 1900's because of the rugged nature.

Craig
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Old 10-30-2007, 08:32 AM
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My oldest and I could handle it; her favorite stream is the Road Prong, and she likes climbing over boulders, etc - the hike in to the stream would be the part she wouldn't like. It's more an issue of time than anything else - most of our trips up to the mountains are little 3-day trips, and there just isn't time to cover everything. There are two areas of the park I would really like to explore some time, and that's one of them.
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Old 10-30-2007, 12:33 PM
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Nice report! I do believe I recognize some of those spots... Also had some awful flashbacks when I saw the picture of the trail... Glad ya'll had a good time and found a few fish...
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:04 PM
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Craig, Great Report!! I thought the hike up from Deep Creek was pretty bad but its only 1000' elevation change over the last two miles up to 441. The hike up/down on the Road Prong trail (from Clingmans Dome Rd) is a little tougher at about 1200' across 2 miles, but the 1.9 miles up to Hyatt ridge with over 1500' change is definitely MUCH worse (not to mention the 750' across the last mile down, then up on the way out). Well done!!

It doesn't look like it could be done as a day trip...

What were the water temps like up there? I had fished over on Road Prong last week and the water was in the low 50s and the action on dries was still pretty good. I'm wondering at what point do the Brookies stop taking dries?
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:23 PM
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I would say that it could be done as a day trip, but you would be rushed. Saturday afternoon i took the water temp and it was 51 and they were still taking dries. I didn't take the temp sunday morning but i would imagine it was anywhere between 45-48. They still took a few dries sunday morning but they definitely seemed to be more focused on subsurface flies more.

I'll definitely remember the devil's staircase for awhile, i don't think i'll run across a trail that was worse than that one for quite some time.

Craig
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Old 10-30-2007, 02:26 PM
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Great report guys. Raven Fork is one of my favorite streams off all time. I have fond memories fishing it with my dad. There are some nice brookies in there as well. I am glad the hike in is so grueling. It keeps most, if not all of the worm dunkers away. I have hiked in and out in the same day, but it was late spring when the days were getting longer. Once again great report.
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Old 10-30-2007, 03:25 PM
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Younger Tom and I did it as a day hike two years ago. It was tough, but not so bad that I wouldn't do it again. Maybe it was because we didn't get to fish much and I've still got the itch for the stream.

There were 2 or 3 cars in the pull off. We checked them out by peeking in the windows and looking for bumper and window stickers. We convinced ourselves they were backpackers. Wrong! We got to the campsite just as three guys were finishing up their breakfast and pulling on their fishing gear. They were there first, so they got dibs on fishing uptream. They were nice enough to try and walk for half an hour before starting to fish. But since they had to walk thru the water in places, that didn't help much. Younger Tom started off downsteam and seem to have had about as much luck as you did Craig. I went a bit up stream and kept seeing wet boot prints and we both decided to bail out. We packed up, hiked out, and enjoyed a good day on Straight Fork (which by the way, will be closing November 12).
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