Fly Fishing Abrams Creek


Abrams Creek upstream from the falls to Cades Cove is Smoky Mountains trout fishing at its finest. The stream forms a small loop above the falls that is seven-tenths of a mile long, and requires nearly half a day to properly fish. Immediately upstream, a second loop known as the Horseshoe rounds Arbustus Ridge. The Horseshoe is one mile long, and it is advisable to allow a whole day to fish this sometimes tricky stretch of creek..

Both the falls loop and the Horseshoe offer superb trout fishing. The stream is subject to heavy fishing pressure from both sportsmen and poachers Despite this, rainbow trout in the 3- to 4-pound class abound. During May, when several species of caddis fly larvae enter the pupae stage and begin darting about beneath the surface, the section of the creek literally comes alive with feeding action.

During the spring and winter months, the cove section provides good rainbow trout and excellent, if difficult, brown trout opportunities. This area is very overgrown, and thoroughly entangled with submerged root structure.

Abrams Creek is better known as Anthony Creek upstream from the Cades Cove Historic Area. Anthony Creek abounds with creel-size rainbow trout. The dense laurel overgrowths surrounding the stream make taking one of these bejeweled little fish a soul-satisfying feat any angler can appreciate. Anthony Creek forks .5 mile upstream from Cades Cove. The Left Prong originates on the northern slopes of Ledbetter Ridge, and the Right Prong flows off the slopes of Spense Field. Both prongs of Anthony Creek offer delightful trout fishing amidst a primeval hemlock forest setting.

One of the most unique aspects of Abrams Creek is the metamorphosis the stream undergoes while traversing the Cades Cove Historic Area. Cades Cove sits atop a huge limestone bed. As the creek enters the cove, over 60 percent of the stream filters underground and makes a subsurface passage through the limestone before rejoining the stream near the Abrams Falls parking area.

This subsurface trek dramatically increases the stream's generally acidic composition from a pH of 6 to 6.7, to a mild pH of 7.1 to 8.3. The remaining surface-flowing portion of Abrams Creek weaves its way through the cove's pasture fields, where approximately five hundred head of cattle are grazed. Here the stream receives nutrients from the cattle's waste, which rain washes into the stream. These added twists to the stream's composition bring both blessings and problems.

The fecal bacteria from the cattle manure make the water downstream from the cove unfit for human use. The near constant presence of the cattle alongside the stream accelerates an already touchy siltation problem. Many gravel spawning beds have been rendered useless by siltation. The silt settles on virtually every rock in the stream, making them as hazardous as ice on a winter's day. Wading Abrams Creek is a dangerous adventure for even the most experienced and daring trout fisherman.

The benefits from the twofold change Abrams Creek is forced to cope with seem to outweigh the problems, at least from the angler's point of view. The added nutrients and the richness gained from the limestone create an ideal habitat for many aquatic invertebrates, particularly the Trichoptera (caddis flies). This radical concentration of macroinvertebrates supports a staggering number of rough, forage, and game fish, especially in the first 4 miles of flow. The obvious reason for this is the exaggerated nutrient base found in this unique stream. Of all the streams in the Smoky Mountains National Park, only Hazel Creek can rival this stream as an angler's paradise.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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