Sunday, June 23, 2019

The road to Cataloochee

crossing the Hudson
I've just returned from a week long fishing trip in Southern Appalachia.  David Knapp (The Trout zone/Troutzone anlgers) and I were able to camp and fish around Cataloochee NC in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park for a few days.

crossing the Susquehanna
For those of you who are not familiar with the southern Appalachians, these are some of the most beautiful, ruggid and remote mountains in the east.  The thickness of the laurel and rhododendron that envelope these streams requires that the upper reaches be accessed by wading up the streams, crawling over rocks, boulders, and log jams.  Unfortunately, the introduction of the Asian woolly adelgid has killed a lot of the large hemlocks in the Park.  Those dying giants are then washed into the gorges creating massive log jams that can make navigating up these tight streams challenging.

One of a handful of PA browns
I left MA early in the morning, crossing the Hudson and the mighty Susquehanna rivers on my way to Bioling Springs.  I took a brief break in the afternoon in Boiling Springs PA to fish with my friend Brad.  We had meet a couple years ago and have stayed in touch via texts and phone calls but have not been able to fish together until this particular day.   We enjoyed a fine June afternoon, fishing one our favorite places on the Yellow Breeches together.  A few fish were caught between us before we had to part.

Two Pennsylvanians

My first view of the GSMNP
The next day’s drive took me past the Shenandoah mountains on my way to the Smokies.  

The road up the mountain and down into the Cataloochee Valley was an experience I won't soon forget.  The road climbs up and over a pretty steep mountain through a series of narrow switch backs.   

Pictures can’t convey the the experience of traveling this narrow dirt road as it snakes it's way along the edge of a very steep mountain and then down into the valley.  At times the road seems run dangerously close to some very steep descents into the valley below.

The Cataloochee Valley was once inhabited and the park service still maintains several houses, barns, a church, and a school house that serve as reminders of life in the valley in the early part of the 20th century.  These historic structures tell the story of a people who for generations called the valley home, making the thoughtful person question the human cost to preserve this beautiful landscape for future generations.

The road down into the valley
The first GSMNP brook trout of the trip

After setting up camp, I explored a nearby stretch of water for a couple hours while David made his way to camp.   

The creek was not a high gradient stream but there was plenty of water that was well beyond sight.  In water like this, I’ve found the dry dropper to excel and fish took both the dry and the dropper.   

We were fortunate to get the tents set up before rain came in overnight.

Stay tuned as I share pictures from our three days in the GSMNP and then my continuing trip to the Shenandoah National park.


  1. Wow - looks and sounds like an amazing trip! Excited to see more!

    1. Thanks Will - it was a fantastic trip. I am still working up all the pictures I took but I should be able to get another post up in another day or two.

  2. Mark , it was great to finally fish the run together, can't wait to see other photos of your trip.

    1. Brad - Yes it was, thanks for taking the time to get together!