Stoney Creek, Elizabethton, TN

One of my favorite creeks to go to while the Watauga and South Holston rivers are generating is Stoney Creek, a feeder stream for the Watauga River. If you follow this creek down to the river, you can sometimes find big rainbows and browns that swim up into it to feed.

When getting here, there is a small volunteer fire station that I usually park at on the corner of Blue Springs Rd and Willow Springs Rd in Elizabethton. After parking, there is a very short walk right to the river. Across the street from the fire station is a residential cabin-type house, and right beside of that is a great section to fish. There are generally dozens of fish in that particular pool, but you can walk up and down the stream for a long time and catch fish.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 6.42.52 PM

This is the volunteer fire station with the creek to the left. If you go downstream, there is a nice pool, but you can go all up and down this stretch.

During the summer I had the absolute time of my life slingin’ hoppers and beetles here. There is a large amount of tree coverage over the river, so it is perfect for beetles. Using one is very different from using a regular fly though. Instead of letting it down gently, it is better to smack it on top of the water to imitate it falling out of a tree, and let it dead drift. I also use sulphurs, which always seems to do the trick as well!¬†During the winter, blue winged olives, zebra midges, copper johns or anything of the like would certainly work.

11051472_10203636533744932_1003507763_n

Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area, Tennessee

10552206_10202313848078617_628780780_o

To find Hampton Creek Cove, use 760 Hampton Creek Rd, Roan Mountain, TN 37687 in your GPS.

When you first make it to the gravel parking lot you’ll see signs giving you the rules about fishing in the area and other regulations. There will be a gate for you to go through and then there will be another sign that shows you the trail map.

The first time I went here I was confused because there aren’t many trail markings leading to the part of the creek with the brook trout. The map shows you that the manmade waterfall and the entrance to the brook trout is half a mile up the trail. This part is pretty easy to follow. Once you get to the waterfall there will be another sign telling you about the brook trout. There will then be a small creek crossing and then open fields and you’re left standing there wondering where the heck to go. Before you cross the creek, there is a small gate that leads to a path on the right. Sometimes the path gets overgrown and you can’t really walk through it, so here’s the alternative route:

After you cross this creek STAY RIGHT and keep walking along the barbed wire fence. Follow it until you can find an area to safely go around the fence. I usually try to hop over/under it, but if you keep walking up there are more gates that you can go through and eventually the barbed wire opens up. The fences and gates are there for cows and horses that live in the pastures, so if a gate is closed when you get to it make sure to close it back after you go through it.

10565672_10202313656673832_945390776_n

At this creek I only use a dry fly – usually a size 16 Royal Wulff or some sort of elk hair caddis. The biggest key to being successful here is to be extremely stealthy and quiet. If you step too loud around the pools or if you make a splash in the water you’ll watch as they swim away and hide under rocks. I’ve come to find that I am most successful when I stand as far back from the pools as possible and cast my fly right into the beginning of the current in a pool. Don’t be fooled by the small pools – cast there too.

If you’ve cast your line more than 15-20 times it’s safe to say you’ve either scared them off or there aren’t any there and you should move on to the next pool. Typically you can can only catch one per pond and it spooks the rest away, so either wait a few minutes and cast again or keep moving.

DSC00709

Little brookie! These little guys come out flailing and are so much fun to catch. Regardless of their size, the beauty of each and every one of these is phenomenal. 

When you are planning on coming to this area make sure you have a whole day for it. I like to get there around 9 and stay for 6-7 hours. Try to get there on the earlier side though, if you stay late it gets very dark in the creek. You don’t need waders for this area, but I would recommend wearing pants because of the tall grass and foliage with wading boots and socks, but I usually just wear chacos.

Here is a video that I made after one of my own personal adventures at Hampton Creek! It helps show the beauty of the area that is impossible for me to describe in words!

And go HERE to learn a little more about the area!

DSC00718

Rocky Fork Creek

 

Rocky Fork Creek is the perfect place to go if you want to leave your waders at home, get some exercise, and step away from a mainstream river.

When you first turn to get to the parking lot, there will probably be a few people fishing along the paved road beside of the creek. This is the largest pool you’ll see throughout the park. This hole is fun to fish for a few minutes, but you can tell that the fish you’re catching here are stocked rainbow trout, which are fun to catch, but don’t quite compare¬†to the beautiful wild rainbows further up the stream!

10422566_10202233859558954_3222600479056362338_n

This was caught road-side, an easily distinguishable stocked rainbow trout. 

So on this road you will come to a new and improved gravel parking lot that can now house dozens of cars. When I first started coming here a few years ago, you were lucky if you could squeeze 3-4 cars outside of the gate leading to the trail. Usually when I go I’ll hike a little and stop to fish whenever it looks like there’s easy access to fishing holes. If you’re hiking up the trail and not directly up the stream bed, some of the fishing spots can be hard to get into because of either huge amounts of foliage or because of a steep drop off that’s too hard to get down and back out of. But if you just keep hiking further it gets easier to reach good fishing spots.

10361584_10202234228488177_7737298322683388563_n

Here’s a little bit of view where you can see the road and the part of the stream that’s roadside. Right in the upper-mid left hand side of the picture is where the gravel parking lot and the beginning of the trail is.

While you’re fishing here it¬†is best to just use a dry fly. I typically use a small (size 14 or 16) parachute sulfur with a lighter color CDC (so it’s easier for you to see) or some type of lighter colored elk hair caddis. In some of the deeper pools it is good practice to use a dropper as well, I usually use a small prince nymph or a zebra midge. It’s shaded here and the stream moves on the fast side in some places, so if you’re using a darker colored fly it’s super hard to follow and set the hook when a fish hits. While fishing here it’s important to enter fishing pools quietly. If they know you’re there they’ll spook very easily and hide. If you’ve cast your line more than 10 times with no luck it’s probably safe to say there aren’t any fish in the pool or you’ve spooked them. Either take a break for a few minutes or keep going.

10488082_10202234228528178_4290018827730423350_n

This pool is a little tricky to get into because of a steep embankment. 

This trail goes on for miles! The further up you go on this trail, the more beautiful the fish start to look. Roughly three miles up the trail, you will start finding native brook trout. The bugs can get thick here in the warmer months, so take your bug spray.

As a side note, you can take waders here but it’s way too hot for me to have that extra layer, so if you have some wading boots and neoprene or wool socks that’ll work just perfectly. I usually just wear my Chacos with some wool socks. A 4 weight 6-8ft rod will work just fine, but I usually just use my 9 ft 5 weight rod because I like the extra length for high-sticking.

10518976_10202233798157419_9161854044442169765_n10488009_10202233798277422_1709648790444374138_n

You can get to this spot from the Old Asheville Highway or plug in 501 Rocky Fork Road, Flag Pond, TN 37657 into a GPS. The street name is also called Rocky Fork Rd, so that may make it easier for you to find.

There’s all sorts of hiking and fishing trails in there, so you can go check out Rocky Fork’s official website here¬†for more information.