Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to Abrams Creek GSMNP Tennessee
The easy to get to water is in the upper section of the creek near Abrams Falls Trail Parking
Lot, and by hiking upstream from Abrams Campground at the South end of the park. The
difficult to access water lies in two big curves in the stream's course called the Little and Big
Horseshoes. When you fish either of the two horseshoes you must commit to complete the
journey the entire length or you may not be able to get back to the trail before dark. The Big
Horseshoe takes a full day to fish its mile long stretch and the Little Horseshoe about a half
Due to its higher pH, Abrams Creek is very slippery compared to other streams in the park.
You have to be careful wading, especially if you make the trip around the horseshoe
sections. The higher alkaline level of the spring creek like water provides a huge diversity
and abundance of food for the trout.
Abrams Creek is considered by many anglers to be one of the best streams in the park. It
has a much better water chemistry than other streams in the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park and consequently, good quality fish. Abrams Creek receives much of its water
from Anthony Creek, which for the most part, flows underground through the Cove. The
streams passage through limestone which raises the PH of the water.
If you plan on fishing Abrams from the Cades Cover area, and you certainly should, you
should be aware of the gate opening and closing times at Cades Cove Road. You should
also be aware of the possible heavy traffic. If you fish the stream during autumn’ s leaf-
looker season, for example, then you would certainly need to allow for a slow ride through
the valley not to mention the probable bear jams.
Accessing the stream from Cades Cove can be good or bad depending on several things. If
you get there first you should certainly hope that other anglers that may appear later are
courteous and respectful of the water you choose to fish. If you are willing to make a day of it
and wade either of the horseshoe curves that leave the trail, here again, make sure you are
there first or you may be following those that beat you there all day.
The rainbow trout in Abrams Creek are as large or larger as any found in the park and there
is a valid reason for it. The stream has an ample abundance of food for the trout to eat. If
you are adapt to fishing Pennsylvania’s spring creeks, then you will be challenged to fish the
upper spring creek portion of Abrams Creek. If not, and your luck depends heavily on
surprising the opportunistically feeding trout, you should head downstream. The farther you
fish downstream, the more the creek looses its spring creek characteristics and become
more like a freestone stream. Downstream of the confluence of Mill Creek, the stream
becomes part high alkalinity level, spring creek water and part low alkalinity level, acidic
water that is still great for the trout.
Abrams Creek has several tributary streams: Rabbit, Panther and Mill Creeks are the main
ones. Mill Creek enters the stream at the Abrams Falls parking area. Mill Creek is about the
same size as Abrams Creek is at that point. The different types of water in these two
streams becomes very obviously at this point. The color of the limestone spring creek type
water and the acidic water of Mill Creek mixes in sharp contrast. Not far upstream from its
confluence with Abrams Creek, Mill Creek receives water from another freestone stream,
Forage Creek. Above that point, Mill Creek is very small and tightly covered stream.
Forage Creek is a small stream tributary of Mill Creek that is covered by the overhanging
limbs of trees and brush and slightly difficult to fish. It is usually full of small, eager rainbows
that are fun to catch. Forage Creek is easily accessed.
Rabbit Creek enters Abrams Creek about three and one-half miles upstream of the Abrams
Creek Campground. It can also be accessed via the Rabbit Creek Trail if you care to hike
almost 5 miles from the trailhead at the Abrams Falls parking area. This is too far for most
anglers to hike when they can fish Abrams Creek and probably catch more trout.
Nevertheless, those anglers that care to camp at the remote campsite may well choose to
fish Rabbit Creek over Abrams Creek at least for a portion of their camping trip. The
uppermost part of the stream can be reached from Parson’s Branch Road but it is very small
at this point. Rainbows are the main species you will catch in Rabbit Creek.
Panther Creek is yet another tributary stream of Abrams Creek. It intersects Abrams Creek
upstream of the Abrams Creek Campground but it is easier to access the upper portion of
the stream from the Parson Branch Road. This small stream normally has a very good
population of rainbows.
Strictly judging things in terms of the quality and size of the rainbow trout, Abrams Creek
ranks higher than any stream in the park. It doesn't have any brown trout, although some
say it did in the past. It is also a tough stream to fish in terms of getting around in the stream.
We couldn't say it is the best stream in the park but could say, it is one of the best ones.
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