Fly Fishing Deep Creek with Kephart’s Ghost

While not a fly fisherman, Horace Kephart certainly kept good company with some excellent trout streams, like Hazel Creek and Deep Creek, during his tenure living in the wilds of western North Carolina, an area that would later become the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Rumor has it, that if you listen closely as dusk descends upon you while casting dry flies to eager rainbow trout on Deep Creek you can hear the footsteps of Kephart's ghost as he wanders the Deep Creek area.

Smoky Mountain Magic

Smoky Mountain Magic is the previously unpublished adventure novel by Horace Kephart, outdoorsman, writer, and champion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The area Horace writes about in the novel is Deep Creek, home to one of the best trout stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The manuscript has been passed down through the generations to Kephart's great-granddaughter, Libby Kephart Hargrave, and has now been published by Great Smoky Mountains Association, the park's nonprofit partner. Proceeds from the book are being donated to the Horace Kephart Foundation, Great Smoky Mountains Association, and Friends of the Smokies.

Fly Fishing Deep Creek

If can imagine yourself in the video above casting to wild brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout, all of which inhabit Deep Creek, or you would just like to explore the area as Kephart did, the map and information provided below should help.

Deep Creek is part of the Little Tennessee River drainage on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and flows about 15 miles before emptying into the Tuckasegee River at Bryson City.

Fly fishing is very good and rewarding for the entire length of Deep Creek where catching a rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout in a single outing is possible. Approximately 90% of the stream lies within the GSMNP and is regulated for single hook artificial lures only.

Deep Creek Map and Access Points

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GSMNP - Cades Cove Visitor Center & Msm: 35.598415, -83.776245
GSMNP - Sugarlands Visitor Center: 35.692177, -83.533600
GSMNP - Townsend Visitors Center: 35.678249, -83.745407
GSMNP - Oconaluftee Vistors Center: 35.515518, -83.305611
GSMNP - Gatlinburg Welcome Center (Spur): 35.734070, -83.521561
GSMNP - Gatlinburg Welcome Center (Downtown): 35.714394, -83.510422
GSMNP - Sevierville Visitor's Center: 35.867046, -83.558121
Deep Creek: 35.464340, -83.433952
Raven Fork: 35.608848, -83.222959
East Prong of Little River: 35.654854, -83.580727
Middle Prong of Little River: 35.652973, -83.697578
West Prong Little River (GSMNP): 35.640488, -83.715607
Abrams Creek, TN: 35.591297, -83.853622
Twentymile Creek, NC: 35.467975, -83.876345
Cataloochee Creek: 35.634487, -83.083076
Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River (Greenbrier Creek): 35.702614, -83.357348
Hazel Creek, NC: 35.474170, -83.727150
LITTLE RIVER ABOVE TOWNSEND, TN: 35.664444, -83.711389
Jakes Creek: 35.651787, -83.581131
Fish Camp Prong: 35.613610, -83.542120
Rough Creek: 35.616384, -83.531263
Thunderhead Prong: 35.617788, -83.670008
Laurel Creek: 35.627338, -83.726571
West Prong of Little River (Backcountry Camp 18): 35.628280, -83.705435
West Prong of Little Pigeon River: 35.637619, -83.489217
Roaring Fork: 35.694319, -83.466718
LeConte Creek: 35.675644, -83.485687
Dudley Creek: 35.729896, -83.452899
Porters Creek: 35.696863, -83.387947
Cosby Creek: 35.752085, -83.204999
Big Creek: 35.751667, -83.109877
Caldwell Fork: 35.631105, -83.085866
Palmer Creek: 35.629361, -83.116508
Little Cataloochee Creek: 35.676280, -83.087540
Rough Fork: 35.616105, -83.120842
Oconaluftee River: 35.552968, -83.309906
Bradley Fork: 35.563006, -83.310785
Straight Fork: 35.569813, -83.241863
Indian Creek: 35.472510, -83.428631
Pole Road Creek: 35.529397, -83.423095
Rocky Fork: 35.573618, -83.425348
Left Fork Deep Creek: 35.534007, -83.421185
Beetree Creek: 35.554644, -83.411808
Noland Creek: 35.458293, -83.526950
Laurel Branch: 35.458415, -83.536906
Mill Creek: 35.498011, -83.501780
Forney Creek: 35.467556, -83.566003
Bear Creek: 35.472309, -83.569651
Bee Gum Creek: 35.495303, -83.560145
Jonas Creek: 35.513243, -83.558058
Slab Camp Creek: 35.503706, -83.562527
White Mans Glory Creek: 35.510361, -83.559179
Bone Valley Creek: 35.499251, -83.679643
Sugar Fork: 35.498884, -83.693740
Proctor Creek, NC: 35.530602, -83.620226
Eagle Creek, NC: 35.487633, -83.774110
Lost Cove Creek, NC: 35.491739, -83.788390
Pinnacle Creek, NC: 35.489328, -83.766482
Ekaneetlee Creek, NC: 35.497993, -83.763757
Moore Springs Branch, NC: 35.484925, -83.868996
Nantahala: 35.290500, -83.666400

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The Deep Creek Trail follows the creek from the Newfound Gap Road to the Deep Creek Campground. The Deep Creek trailhead is located on the Newfound Gap Road (RT 441) about half way between Cherokee NC and Gatlinburg TN (see map above). Starting at the trailhead, the hike to Bryson City is approximately 13 miles with several campsites located along the way. The trail can be very steep and grueling at times. The lower end of Deep Creek is accessible from the Deep Creek Campground via Bryson City. On the lower end of Deep Creek the best fishing is above Indian Creek Falls, below this point the river is frequently used by tubers in the summer.

Deep Creek Fly Fishing Tactics

(excerpt from The Fly Fisherman's Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

In early season small- to medium-size dry flies (March Brown, Adams, and Dark Caddis, sizes 12 to 18) are good, and nymphs (Black Stone, Pheasant Tail, and Hare's Ear, sizes 12 to 18) are dependable.

In summer large dry flies (Elk-Hair Caddis, Royal Wulff, and Thunderhead, sizes 10 to 14) and big nymphs (Golden Stone, Prince, and My Pet, sizes 8-14) yield well. These same flies are suitable into the fall, along with terrestrials (Chartrueuse Inchworm, Joe's Hopper, and Fur Ant, sizes 12 to 8).

Some big browns move into the lower reaches of Deep Creek in the late fall and winter and can be taken on streamers (Grey Ghost, Woolly Bugger, and Muddler Minnow) and various egg patterns.

Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing in Great Smoky Mountain National Park for more information about trout fishing in the park.

About the Author Ken Sperry

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and is on a quest to map the best places for fly fishing in America. He created the DIY Fly Fishing App to share this information and help you find new places to fish.