Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Slickrock Creek North
The name of this stream could possible tell you  
something. The low pH of the water that's typical in this
area of the southern Appalachian Mountains means
there's little algae in the water and that means the rocks
in a stream are usually not as slick as those in water
with a high pH. This stream probably does have a
higher than normal pH, although I don't know that for a
fact. It's also supposed to have Green Drakes and if
this is true, then the pH of the water is certainly much
higher than the average stream in the area. We have
not verified the existence of Green Drakes. The name
could mean that those rocks out of the water, covered
with moss or fallen leaves are slick, which would be true
for certain. It could also just be that someone that had
something to do with naming streams took a hard fall on
Slickrock Creek at one time.

Angie and I have only fished this stream one time and
then probably not in the best area of it because it
requires more effort to reach than we have been willing
to exert. We always take a commercial grade video
camera along and that makes it  tough on a long hike,
especially when you reach my young, old age. Neither
of us slipped and fell in Slickrock Creek. We did catch a
half dozen small brown trout but none of them were
over 12 inches.  We only fished a short time due to the
time it took to negotiate the steep decline of the trail. All
of the trout above the lower falls are supposed to be
brown trout. The stream is probably too low in elevation
to have any brook trout in its headwaters. Below the
falls, fish from Calderwood Lake can enter the stream to
spawn. Fly fishing Slickrock Creek in its lower section
will probably get your both browns and rainbow trout.

Slickrock Creek is a tributary of the Little Tennessee
River. It flows into Calderwood Lake not very far from
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in western North
Carolina. It's known for its brown trout. It doesn't have
any road access and therefore, it has maintained all the
things it takes to continue to be a good trout stream
over the years. It flows through the Joyce
Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area.

Much of the stream forms the border between the
states of Tennessee and North Carolina but most all of
the headwaters and upper part of the stream are in the
state of North Carolina. It's managed by agreement
between both states, so a license of either state works
for Slickrock Creek. Most of the stream is in North
Carolina and that's why we call it a North Carolina

The stream can be accessed from only a very few
places, none of which is exactly an easy route to take.
The lower part of the stream can be reached from U. S.
Highway #129, the most dangerous road in the Eastern
United States as far as I'm concerned.  U. S. Highway
#129 crosses Calderwood Lake just below Cheoah Dam.
From the trailhead at the bridge, the Slickrock Creek
Trail (also called the Ike Branch Tail because it
intersects it) follows along the bank of the lake to the
mouth of Slickrock Creek. It's about a 2 mile hike.
According to a friend of mine that regularly fishes this
stream , the Ike Branch Trial is the better trail to take to
get to the water in the lower section of Slickrock Creek..

The other place to access the creek is from Forest
Service Trail # 41 which is located at the end of Forest
Service Road #82 (Slickrock Creek Road) which is off
highway #129 in Robinsville. You have to drive about 7
miles to Big Fat Gap over a small, gravel road to get to
the trailhead. It's about a 2 mile hike to the creek's
middle section using this route but don't let the millage
fool you. This route seems like two miles of vertical
distance. It does put you in a good area of the stream.

I can see why many anglers claim they have poor
results fishing this stream. The wild browns are a lot
easier to spook than rainbows. They avoid the sunlight.
Nymphs are always far more productive than dry flies
fishing this type of water for brown trout. During low
water conditions, it's especially difficult to approach the
browns in this relatively shallow stream. Here are just a
few difficulties you face. You can't use the high stickin
method effectively in low water and double and tandem
rigs wouldn't work well. Staying hidden while you make
longer than normal, precisely placed presentations with
a nymph, isn't easy. Unless you are staying overnight,
fishing during low light conditions early and late in the
day would be out. Strike indicators wouldn't work well.
There are other problems with fly fishing Slickrock
Creek using the traditional, locally accepted fishing
methods that's beyond the scope of this article.

The season runs year-round
Trout can be caught some days during the Winter
Fly fishing Slickrock Creek is great in the Spring  due to
the hatches.
Summertime is okay - the water stays cool.
Fall is a beautiful time to fish this stream

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Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout (stocked in lake with
Brown Trout (wild and stocked in
lake with holdovers)


Northwestern North Carolina

Nearest Towns


Poor, long hikes required

Non-Resident License
State of North Carolina

National Weather Service Link

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