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.
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 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 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.
Click map icons to get directions to fishing spots, boat ramps and USGS stream flow data
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).
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 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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