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Smoky Mountain Steelhead


Article Date: October 1989

I've written several reports on angling opportunities in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, but none of them quite measure up to this one in terms of novelty. The opportunity I'm referring to is the chance to catch steelhead in a handful of area streams. Biologists, to be sure, claim that the fish are not steelhead - but spawning rainbows coming out of lakes into larger streams. Veteran mountain fishermen maintain otherwise, and there is no denying that steelhead were stocked in Fontana, Nantahala (sometimes called Aquone) and Santeetlah Lakes some two decades ago. Shortly thereafter, local fishermen began taking fish which had all the characteristics of steelhead the bright silver coloration, a propensity to strike flashy lures out of irritation, and slashing fights with multiple jumps once they were hooked.

Biologists insist the steelhead stocking was a failure. Local anglers say the opposite. Ultimately, who cares about this argument? After all, rainbows and steelhead are practically blood brothers, biologically speaking. What counts is the fact that every fall there is exciting action on sleek, powerful migratory fish. The steelhead run into several streams Hazel Creek and the lower Nantahala River out of Fontana Lake; the upper Nantahala River out of Nantahala Lake; and Big Santeetlah, Snowbird, and West Buffalo Creeks out of Lake Santeetlah. The best, most consistent run is the one up Big Santeetlah Creek. While the timing varies a bit from year to year, mid October usually sees things at their peak, and fishing is best on the first mile or so of stream.

A cool morning, with fog hanging on the water, is ideal, but if the fish are on the move they strike surprisingly well throughout the day. The majority are caught on big, bushy dry flies skittered across calmer water in big holes and where the creek enters Lake Santeetlah. Also, bright, flashy streamers of the traditional steelhead type are quite productive. There is little pressure as most locals are busy hunting at this time.

I strongly........(continued)



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CONTACT DETAILS FOR COMPANIES/INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED IN ARTICLE (if any)
Marty Maxwell. Tel. 704-479-6106
Roy and Kathy Wilson, Blue Boar Lodge. 200 Santeetlah Road. Robinsonsville, NC, 28771. Tel. 704-479-8126





























 
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