Fly fishing is a growing hobby, but it’s always been a favorite in the rivers and creeks of North Carolina. The favorable climate and plentiful waters make it a popular choice for trout and anglers alike. If you’re looking to plan your perfect fly fishing getaway, Slickrock Creek should be on your list and our guide can help.
There are plenty of guides that can take you to the best spots in Slickrock Creek, but why not save the cash and plan your own trip instead? Not only is it cheaper, but it will give you the chance to choose every detail and get the experience that you want. Sit back and take notes to plan your fishing excursion to Slickrock Creek.
Slickrock Creek in the Joyce Kilmer - Slickrock Wilderness
Slickrock Creek is named for its rocks, which are, well, slick! While traction on the rocks is not great, what this freestone creek does have is a selection of stocked and wild brown and rainbow trout, with year-round fishing access for those who are willing to make the trek.
The biggest downside to this creek is that it doesn’t offer easy access. There are plenty of areas to fish, but you have to hike and be willing to go looking for them. The areas that offer the best catches are also the hardest to reach, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
Slickrock Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Located near Robbinsville, Slickrock Creek offers smaller trout than other areas, and the low elevation doesn’t provide suitable habitat for brook trout . The lower section is preferred for fishing, below the falls where the fish from Calderwood Lake come to spawn. There is no road access to this creek, which runs through the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area.
This stream forms part of the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and is not far from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of the fishable waters are located in North Carolina, so those fishing regulations apply. However, residents of either state are permitted to use their fishing licenses in the creek. Aside from limited access, the other major disadvantage here is that the fish are easy to spook, which can make getting good catches difficult.
Still, for those who want the beauty and untouched perfection of a true trout stream and are willing to put in the work, Slickrock Creek is definitely worth the trip.
Best Places to Fish Slickrock Creek
The stream offers a few access points. None are particularly easy, but they are available. U.S. Highway 129, a fairly dangerous road in and of itself, offers the access near the trailhead at Slickrock Creek Trail, which takes you about two miles down to the fishing access. Many people prefer the Ike Branch Trail to access the lower section of the creek.
The path here follows along the banks of the lake to the creek and offers some great sightseeing and nature along the way. Those who enjoy the outdoors won’t mind the hike but make sure you’re ready for a little agility training. There is another area outside of Robbinsville, about 7 miles out to Big Fat Gap and the trailhead.
There is a small gravel road, and then you’ll have a two-mile hike to the middle section of the creek. It is a lot of vertical ground, though, so you might feel like it’s five or six miles if you’re not prepared for the trek. Some people report poor fishing results in this area, too, which can be discouraging to those considering the trip.
Best Time to Fish Slickrock Creek
The season runs year-round for trout fishing in Slickrock Creek, with some trout fishing results during the winter months. The water stays cooler in the summer, making it one of the few options for summer fishing in the state. However, there are better times to visit if you want the optimal catches.
The spring is ideal for fly fishing when all the best hatches occur. It's rumored the stream even has a Green Drake hatch! The fall is also a great time to fish here, as that’s when brown trout from the lake run up the creek to spawn and more likely to bite because they’re all worked up. With water like this and fish that spook easily, peak season is always the best time to go if you want a good catch.
If you do visit during the winter and spring months, be prepared for a muddy, wet hiking experience to get access to the stream. Unless the year has been unusually dry, the trails often become difficult to traverse because of the vertical terrain. Be sure to pack appropriate footwear and gear.
During the fall, the trails should be easier to traverse, so you won’t have as many concerns.
Best Flies for Slickrock Creek
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Slickrock Creek:
- Yellow Sally (#12 - 16)
- Yellow Humpy (#10 - 18)
- Parachute Sulphur (#14 - 18)
- Parachute Adams (#12 - 22)
- Light Cahill (#10 - 18)
- Elk Hair Caddis (#8 - 16)
- Yellows Stimulator (#8 - 14)
- Chernobyl Ant (#8 - 12)
- Griffith's Gnat (#16 - 24)
- Pheasant Tail (#12 - 20)
- BH Hare's Ear (#12 - 20)
- Rainbow Warrior (#14 - 22)
- Pat's Rubber Legs (#4 - 12)
- Golden Stonefly (#6 - 10)
- Tellico Nymph (#12 - 18)
- Zebra Midge (#16 - 22)
- WD40 (#16-20)
- Y2K Egg (#12 - 16)
- BH Wooly Bugger (#2 - 6)
- Sculpzilla (#4)
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.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- 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)
A 9-foot 3- or 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Slickrock Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Slickrock Creek Fishing Report
Currently, there are no area fly shops, guides and websites that regularly provide a Slickrock Creek fly fishing report and update on current conditions.
The state of North Carolina requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.
You can purchase a North Carolina state fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Trip Planning Tips
Although the creek itself doesn’t offer great access, it is located near Robbinsville, which offers easy access to Knoxville and Asheville alike. You can find plenty of lodging along the nearby highways and in the cities, and many locals like to make this a weekend trip.
Make sure to bring a map because you’ll want to be aware of where you’re hiking. Those coming from out of town can fly into Asheville Regional Airport or McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville and reach the region via I-40.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in North Carolina
Feature image by Chris Morris