Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Big Snowbird Creek
To get to the key feature quickly, lets just say that Big
Snowbird Creek is one of the best small stream brook
trout streams in North Carolina. It rivals the Raven Fork
in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but many
claim it's the state's best brook trout stream. Like any
other good brook trout stream, the thing that keeps its
"good" status is the remoteness of its waters. To get to
the best brook trout fishing in Big Snowbird Creek you
are going to have to do plenty of hiking.
Big Snowbird Creek, located near Robinsville North
Carolina, flows into Santeetlah Lake. Its waters are
managed by the state two different ways. It has a wild
trout section in its headwaters,and a hatchery
supported section in its lower end. The creeks
reputation as a good trout stream comes from its wild
brook trout territory which is protected from upstream
migrating brown and rainbow trout by three large
waterfalls. The creek starts out as a very small brook
trout stream on the Snowbird Mountains near the
Cherohala Skyway and becomes a rather large brook
trout stream in its lower wild trout section that is twenty
to thirty five feet wide in places. The three water falls
are Big Falls, the lowest one; Middle Falls and Upper
The best brook trout fishing is above these waterfalls.
To get there you have two options. You can travel to
the end of the Big Snowbird Creek Road, which is
Forest Service Road #75, to a location known as the
Junction and depart by foot up the trail at least six miles
to the better brook trout water. You can also hike down
the King Meadows Trail from Hooper Bald on the
Cherohala Skyway. For those of you that are unfamiliar,
the Cherohala Skyway is a twenty-mile long highway
that runs along the top of the mountain ridges from
Tellico Plains Tennessee to Robinsville North Carolina.
This trail is very steep and probably takes more effort to
reach the better brook trout waters than the lower trail.
Once the trail gets to the main brook trout waters, its
decline drops drastically and it falls at a much slower
pace. There are several small tributary streams that
also have populations of brook trout between the lower
falls and the middle falls, but you normally will find the
largest brook trout in the big pools of the main stream.
Brook trout exist up to about 12 inches but most of them
probably average about 5 inches.
The lower section is followed by Forest Service Road
(Big Snowbird Road) with not much access. It flows
through a mixture of public and private property for its
length of eight miles from Santeetlah Lake.
The first three miles upstream from the Junction, the Big
Snowbird Creek lies far below the trail but can be
accessed in places. It has excellent wild brown trout and
rainbow trout fishing. There are campground in the
upper section and camping is probably the best
approach to use to fish the better brook trout waters.
Above Sassafras Creek the stream falls through a
series of cascades that's a few hundred feet high.
These are known as the Mouse Knob Falls. Above the
falls you will find brook trout only.
The thing that defines Big Snowbird Creek from other
streams in this area of the state of North Carolina is its
wide streambed. The stream has numerous deep pools,
long runs, some short riffles but it's mostly pocket water
with boulders and large rocks spread throughout its
waters. There are plenty of Rhododendrons that makes
for tight situations in the extreme upper parts and all the
small tributaries but you want have any casting
problems at most any other location on Big Snowbird
The season runs year-round
Trout can be caught most days of the winter
Spring is the best time for fly fishing the Linville River
due to the hatches.
Summertime is okay - the water in the gorge stays cool.
Fall is the best time for big browns in the lower section.
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Dry fly: 9 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing: 71/2 ft.,
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Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
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