Raven Fork: Best Brook Trout Fishing in Smoky Mountains National Park?

After being closed to fishing for nearly 30 years to restore native brook trout populations, there are many streams that may lay claim to the best brook trout fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is. A top contender has to be the headwaters of Raven Fork. Do you know how to get there? We do.

native brook trout

Native Brook Trout Habitat

At one time, brook trout used to populate just about every stream in the Smoky Mountains National Park. Heavy logging in the 1880's and later the introduction of rainbow trout and brown trout decimated native brook trout populations. After decades of hard work to restore brook trout stocks fisheries biologists of the National Park Service can now proudly say the brookies are back!

Most brook trout in the park now reside in streams above 3,000 feet in elevation, which usually means you'll have to do a little hiking to find them. This is certainly the case if you want to find the best brook trout fishing on Raven Fork.

Raven Fork Description

Raven Fork flows through the best preserved and the most rugged wilderness area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Those hardy enough to venture to these seldom seen waters will be rewarded with the best brook trout fishing in the park.

Raven Fork Map & Access

Raven Fork inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the more difficult streams to fish with limited access (hence the big brook trout). One access route is to take the strenuous 1.8 miles hike to campsite #47 via the Enloe Creek Trial. The Enloe Creek trailhead may be accessed by taking the Balsam Mountain Road down from the top of Balsam Mountain or by taking the Straight Fork Road up from the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

map of fishing access spots on the Raven Fork in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Get directions to fishing access points and real-time stream flow data with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Fly Fishing Raven Fork

The Brookies in Raven Fork come readily to small dry flies (Blue-Winged Olive, size 18 to 22) and nymphs (Black Stone and Pheasant Tail) in the early Spring.

Large dries (Elk-Hair Caddis and Thunderhead, sizes 12 to 16) and nymphs (Golden Stone, Black Stone, and Hare's Ear, sizes 10 to 14) work well in the turbulent water that punctuates the Raven in late Spring and early Summer.

In late Summer and early Fall, attractor dry flies (Royal Wulff, Yellow Hammer, and Orange Palmer, sizes 10 to 14) produce well, as do terrestrials (Bullet-Head Grasshopper, Chartreuse Inchworm, and Fur Ant, sizes 12 to 14).

Need flies? 

Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box. 

Dry Flies
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant

Nymphs/Wet Flies
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black

- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Raven Fork. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Need Gear? 

Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.

Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.

High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.

Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet.  3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.

Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable.  If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.

Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market.  Excellent foot and ankle support.  Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.

Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!

Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats.  Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish.  Simply the best nets on the market.

Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam.  If you need more storage - you have too many flies!

Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.

Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.

The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes.  Game changer.

Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!

If you do go, remember to be kind to our little native brook trout friends and leave no trace behind so that others may also enjoy these iconic symbols of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


p.s. For more information about fly fishing the best trout streams in the Smokies check out our Smoky Mountains National Park Fly Fishing Guide.

Ken Sperry

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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