Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Whitetop Laurel Creek
It seems like there's a Laurel Creek everywhere there
are trout streams in the Eastern United States. About
two miles East of Damascus is an old railroad bed
called the Virginia Creeper Trail. It doesn't have any
of the rails or cross ties remaining. It's now a very
nice hiking trail that follows the Whitetop Laurel Creek
for about two miles upstream. It provides access to
some very good fly fishing water.
There's a Laurel Creek close to the Whitetop Laurel
Creek that I will mention just to avoid any confusion.
It's in the Northeast corner of the state of Tennessee
not far from the South Holston River. It runs across
the Tennessee and the Virginia state lines, into the
Whitetop Laurel and then through the little town of
Route #58, east of Damascus, parallels much of the
Whitetop Laurel Creek for a long way. When the road
leaves the creek you can use the Virginia Creeper
The area along the road is stocked with trout by the
state. Catching trout is no problem there. It's a
beautiful, medium size stream with the typical run,
riffle, pool type water that flows down the mountain.
It's fairly easy to fish from the banks or by wading in
most areas, although some of the pools get rather
The best part of the Whitetop Laurel Creek is the
special regulation waters in Taylor Valley. Getting
there takes a few turns out of Damascus.
After heading East out of Damascus, turn right and
you will soon cross the state line into Tennessee. Not
far, maybe a mile, you will turn left on 725. You will go
back into Virginia and come to the intersection of 725
and 726 where you will again see the Whitetop Laurel
Just upstream (and downstream) from that point are
special regulation waters, single hook artificial only,
and lots of wild trout.
The Whitetop Laurel is one of the better freestone
stream in the State of Virginia. It offers easy to
access areas with stocked trout as well as lots wild
trout in secluded areas you can access with a little
effort. This has the effect of keeping those desiring to
catch the stocked trout in easy to access sections of
the creek and leaves most of the wild trout for those
who are interested only in the sport of catching and
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Photo Courtesy of David Knapp Photography
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Fly fishing Whitetop Laural Creek is
year-round business for the locals.
The best time to fish the stream would be
during the months of April and May when
there are a lot of hatches occurring and the
dry fly fishing is great.
Whitetop Laurel Fly Fishing Guide:
Fly fishing Whitetop Laurel Creek is a pure
pleasure. It's book perfect, small stream fly
fishing. The wild trout are aggressive and
requires some skill to catch but the
rewards are great.
A road doesn't follows the Taylor Fork
Sections. You will have to hike up or down
the stream. By the way, the fishing is also
good downstream at the end of the #725
paved road. It flows off the mountain down
to the Virgina Creeper area.
Some of the best fishing in both the
stocked and the wild trout areas is during
the surfer hatch which seems to last a long
time. For one reason they have both the
true Sulfurs and the Eastern Pale Evening
duns, both called sulfurs by the locals.
You will see the trout go nuts over the
spinner falls late in the afternoons.
The lower special regulation area runs
from the lower gate in Taylors Valley down
stream to Straight Branch, a small tributary
stream. The upper special regulation area
runs from the first trestle located above
the upper gate in Taylors Valley upstream
to Green Cove Creek.
You want to fish Whitetop Laurel Creek in
an upstream direction using a lot of short
upstream and up and across cast. The
pocket water areas have a lot of
conflicting currents and the more fly line
you can keep out of the water, the better
off you are. If trout are rising, fish a dry fly
but if you don't see any insects or trout
rising you are probably better off fishing a
nymph. The High Stickin method of
nymphing works great in this stream.
This is a neat stream to fish. The little
town of Damascus in also a neat place to
stay. Laurel Creek flows right through
town and the people are all laid back type
folks that cater to hikers and anglers.
There are several neat places to stay and
eat in the area.
Whitetop Laurel Creek Hatches and
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
White River and in all stages of life that is
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a much
higher degree of success, give us a call.
We not only will help you with selections, you
will learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92%
of the thousands of our customers will use
nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
Whitetop Laurel has a huge, very diverse
population of aquatic insects that hatch
throughout most of the year. The pH of the
water is good and there are several mayflies
and caddisflies that reside in the creek that
you wouldn't expect to find in most Eastern
Appalachian mountain freestone streams.
The most consistent hatch is the usual
Blue-winged Olives. There are several
species that hatch months of the year. The
best hatches start in February and last
through June. There is a second hatch that
occurs in October and early November.
Little Black Winter Stoneflies start the first
hatches of the year in late January. These
can hatch into March. Little Brown Stoneflies
(actually in the same family as the Little
Blacks) hatch in March and until the middle
The Giant Black Stoneflies start hatching the
third week of April. It can last for six weeks.
The Yellow Sallies start a couple of weeks
later and hatch into the first of July.
The Golden Stoneflies start about the last
week of May and can hatch until the last
week of June.
One of the first mayflies to start hatching are
the Blue Quills. They start about the first of
March and can last until the middle of April.
Quill Gordons start about the same time and
last about a month. This is one of the better
hatches of the Whitetop Laurel Creek.
The Hendricksons start hatching about the
first of April. The hatch last about a month
but is usually not very heavy but enough to
get the trout's attention.
American March Browns start hatching near
the end of April and last almost two months.
This hatch is never concentrated but well
Eastern Pale Evening Duns start hatching
around the first of May and last through
About two weeks after this hatch starts, the
Sulphurs start hatching and last almost two
months. Locals refer to both of these
hatches as Sulphurs and they are very
Whitetop Laurel Creek has a decent hatch
of Eastern Green Drakes that starts about
the first of May and last around three
There are also plenty of Light Cahills that
hatch in late May and June. You will find
them in the faster water.
Slate Drakes start hatching in late June
and continue on through September.
These large mayflies are very important to
Mahagony Duns start hatching in late
August and last for about two
months.There are a few Grannon
Caddisflies that hatch in March. The hatch
last about a month from the lower to the
Green Sedges are fairly plentiful in the
creek. They normally hatch from about the
first of May through June. There are also
some Little Short-horn Sedges that hatch
near the same time.
The Cinnamon Sedges and a few Spotted
Sedge species of caddisflies hatch from
about the first of May through July. These
are the most important caddisflies. They
are plentiful in some areas of the creek.
The Great Autumn Brown Sedges start
hatching in October and can last until
Summertime is terrestrial time and
imitations of grasshopper, ants and
beetles. Inch worms also are plentiful and
fall and get blown into the water. The
terrestrial become important about the
middle of June through September.
Midges hatch throughout the entire year
but are most important during the winter.
Streamers are effective in the creek,
especially when the water is slightly high
and stained. Imitations of sculpin, small
minnows and small crawfish will work great
We always recommend "Perfect Flies".
They are not only the most realistic
imitations you can purchase, they are the
most effective flies you can buy. They
have proven to work great on Whitetop
Laurel Creek on many occasions. We
hope you give them a try if you haven't
already done so.
We suggest you fish the higher elevations
in the summer months.
Fall is an excellent and a beautiful time to
fish the Whitetop Laurel Creek.
The trout can be caught throughout the
winter months on warm days.
Whitetop Laurel Creek Fly Fishing
12/14/13 Our local Demascus contact
reporting the creek has been running high
and cold. The stream has been recently
stocked along the road and a few fish have
been taken during the past two weeks. He
plans on fishing the wild trout section during
the next week.
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
(Bottom Of Page)
Fishing Report Updated 04/10/17
12/31/13 Whitetop Laurel creek is still
flowing high and will a couple more days
settling down. No reports of fish caught
during the past week.
01/07/14 Levels are back up some but
cold water is the big problem. It will
warm up by Thursday but bring in
more rain and higher water on
01/21/14 There have been no reports of
anglers catching trout mainly due to high
water levels. It is back down now and only
the cold weather should be a problem.
01/28/14 Still no reports of fish caught but
the weather has been very lousy. Much
better weather is on the way this weekend.
02/11/14 Still little breaks in the cold
weather. Several guys planning spring
trips have ordered flies but no reports
from anyone fishing.
02/18/14 Warm weather is in the forecast
for a change. Rain on Thursday, otherwise
clear. There will be some good
opportunities this coming week.
02/25/14 Stream levels are high right now.
No reports from anyone fishing came in
last week. Colder weather is in the picture
03/11/14 One customer reported catching
a few trout this past week along the RR
track. He ordered more of BWO nymphs
but caught one nice one on a streamer.
03/18/14 Customer reported seeing Blue
Quills hatching but only caught a couple of
03/25/14 Our local contact reported
BWOs, Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Little
Black Caddis and Little Brown Stoneflies
04/01/14 Hatches continue but high water
slowed the catching down. It should drop
some this week and be much warmer.
04/08/14 Stream levels are down to near
normal and two customers reported catching
several trout in the wild trout section.
Several hatches are occurring including
Hendricksons/Red Quills, Quill Gordons,
Blue Quills, Little Black Caddisl and Little
Brown Stoneflies. See the hatch chart on
your upper left.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
04/15/14 Conditions have improved this past
week with warmer water and lower stream
levels. We had one customer reporting
catching some trout in the wild section.
04/22/14 Stream levels are in great
shape and anglers reporting catching
stockers along the road and wild trout in
the wild trout section. The next week
should be even better.
04/29/14 One customer reported catching
several trout in the wild trout section. He
reported several people catching stockers
along the road upstream of Damascus.
05/06/14 Several customers ordering flies,
some getting ready and some already
catching fish. Trout are being caught
along the road and in the wild trout
section. Several hatches are occurring.
05/13/14 More good reports from anglers
fishing both sections of the stream. Heavy
rain is forecast this week, so check the
stream levels before traveling very far to fish.
05/03/14 Anglers reporting lots of trout
are being caught along the road on
imitations of Sulphurs. They are
hatching in large quantities.
06/10/14 There are lots of trout being
caught in both the stocked section and the
wild trout sections. Lots of hatches are
taking place. Excellent conditions.
06/24/14 Low water levels are causing
some problems for some. The stocked
section fishing has slowed down but the
wild trout section is fishing as good as it
every does. Two good reports from regular
07/08/14 Sulphurs and more sulphurs.
Anglers are reporting good catches of both
stocked and wild trout. Water levels have
been a little low but fishing continues to be
07/22/14 The water temperature in the
lower elevations is getting marginal at times.
We suggest you fish the wild trout section in
the higher elevations. Hatches have slowed
but terrestrial insects are becoming
important to imitatte.
08/12/14 Action on the stream along the
highway has ceased for the most part but
anglers are catching trout in the wild trout
section. Cream Cahills, Little Yellow Stones
and terrestrials are the main insects to
imitate at this time.
09/02/14 One regular customer has been
catching a few trout each trip. He is fishing
the Trico hatch and using terrestrials.
09/16/14 Fishing has picked back up along
the section that follows the RR bed as well
as the wild trout section. Lower water
temperature has helped big time. One
customer reported catching lot of trout this
09/23/14 Two good reports from last week.
Customers were using our Little Brown
Caddis and terrestrials - ants and beetles.
10/07/14 Badly needed rain is falling as I
write this. Conditions should greatly
improve during the next few day.
10/14/14 Three good reports came in this
past week from both the stocked and wild
trout sections. Lots of rain this week and
levels may be high a short time.
11/11/14 Great conditions this past couple
of weeks with some nice brown being
caught. Cold weather on the way.
12/04/14 Sorry for the lack of reports. We
have received several good reports during
the past three weeks and fishing continues
to be good. Sculpin streamers have taken
some nice brown trout.
12/16/14 Plenty of stockers being caught
but no reports of wild trout. Fish from
Damascus upstream along the road.
12/23/14 No reports from the past week but
conditions remain very good.
12/29/14 Two very good reports from the
past week of trout being caught mostly on
01/05/05 Another good report from a local
fishing near town in the stocked section.
01/19/15 The catching has picked up the last
two days thanks to the warmer weather. Good
01/26/15 No reports from the past week. Very
cold weather has hampered the catching.
02/02/15 Still no reports but stream levels
and weather forecast looks pretty good for
this next week.
02/16/15 Sorry, but conditions have gone
from poor to bad. Freezing temps and lots of
snow forecast this next week.
03/02/15 Still no reports from anyone fishing
but the good news is, the weather is
beginning to warm up some.
03/09/15 The water levels have been high
but currently back down; however, there is a
lot of rain in the forecast. You may need to
use streamers for a few days.
03/16/15 The levels have been high for the
past week but falling. Some Quill
Gordons/Blue quills have shown up in the
lower reaches so get ready.
03/23/15 Reports of Quill Gordons and Blue
Quills hatching but with high water. It is back
03/30/15 The cold front has passed and
conditions should improve this coming week.
04/06/15 Lots of rain in the forecast but
warmer weather and more hatches. It should
be good this week.
04/13/15 Full blown hatches are underway.
Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Little Black caddis
and Hendrickson starting.
04/20/15 Two good reports from last week.
March Browns, Giant Stoneflies and other
new hatches. High water this morning.
04/27/15 Cooler weather has slowed the
hatches but still getting good reports of
05/04/15 Two good reports, good stream
levels. We expect Eastern Pale Evening duns
(called Sulphurs by many) to start hatching.
05/11/15 Customers catching trout along the
road and in the wild section in good
numbers. Lots of hatches taking place.
05/18/15 Lots of sulphurs hatching along with
March Browns. Some Cinnamon Caddis
showing up and lots of trout being caught.
05/25/15 Low water levels is making it
tougher than normal but rain is expected for
the next few days.
06/08/15 Sulphurs, sulphurs and more
sulphurs hatching. Good late evening spinner
falls. Wild and stocked trout being caught.
06/15/14 It is getting a little warm in the
stocked sections. Fish the wild trout area
upstream. Several good hatches taking place.
06/20/15 Terrestrials are starting to work
good. Still lots of sulphur, Light Cahill, Slate
Drake, Little Yellow stonefly hatches.
07/06/15 Stream levels have been a problem
at times but otherwise, fishing conditions
have been great.
07/13/15 Stream levels are still high but falling
fast. More rain is forecast, so it will be a wait
and see deal.
07/20/15 The stream level is back down near
normal. Terrestrials are becoming important.
08/03/15 Good reports from the past weekend.
Terrestrials and Little Yellow Stoneflies are hot.
08/10/15 Two good reports from customers.
Lots of Little Yellow stoneflies. Cooler weather
is helping. Both wild and stocked sections
08/17/15 No reports from anglers but conditions
remain very good. Rain through Thursday, so
what the levels.
08/24/15 Stream levels have been high at
times but the weather is going to be much
cooler. Mahogany duns are starting to hatch.
08/31/15 A good report from the wild trout
section. Mahogany duns are starting to hatch.
Terrestrials, especially our Japanese beetle is
08/07/15 Too many anglers are taking the easy
approach and fishing along the road. Hit the
backcountry upper elevations.
09/21/15 Low water levels have made it tough
to catch them unless a lot of stealth is used
but that's changing. It is raining and turning
much cooler. That should help the fishing a lot.
09/28/15 Great Autumn Brown Sedges (big
fall caddis) are hatching. Watch the stream
levels, there is a chance of rain almost every
day. Right now, conditions are good.
10/12/15 High water has been a problem but
the stream is back down near normal with little
to no rain forecast. Great Autumn Brown
sedges are hatching.
10/19/15 Good stream levels and weather.
Blue-winged olives and Great Autumn Brown
sedges are the main hatches.
10/26/15 Pre-spawn browns, good weather
and good stream levels. Great Autumn Brown
Sedges are at the peak of their hatch.
11/02/15 Conditions are excellent with the
warm weather but watch the stream levels.
They are a little high now.
11/09/15 Stream levels are fine now but it is
raining and you will need to keep a close
check. Hatches are down to midges and
BWOs. The Brown sculpin is still the hot fly.
11/16/15 There is rain forecast for a couple
of days this week and the levels are up some
now. The Brown sculpin fly has been
catching a lot of brown trout on this stream.
11/30/15 We did receive two good reports
and one not so good. It is raining hard now
and will continue through Wednesday, so you
can expect high water levels through this
week. It could be okay by the weekend.
12/21/15 Conditions at this time are great.
There is lots of rain starting tomorrow, so watch
the levels. BWOs are hatching.
12/28/15 The warm weather is nice but the rain
isn't. The creek is very high and more rain is on
the way. It should clear up by the 1st.
01/11/15 The stream has finally got down to a
level that's okay to fish. There is some snow
today and rain this weekend but you should
have a time slot there to catch some trout.
01/2/16 Melting snow is affecting the levels
and staining the water. There is more rain and
snow tomorrow and Wednesday. Water temp.
is about 36 degrees, so fishing will be tough.
02/01/16 Conditions are good right now.
Some rain is forecast but nice and warm
weather through Friday.
02/08/16 Snow is forecast today through
Wednesday. Stream levels are just a little high
and the water about 36/38 degrees. Midges
(red & cream), Winter stoneflies, the Brown
sculpin are the flies you need to use.
02/22/16 The water is much warmer, in the
high forties, but the levels is high, too high to
wade. The Brown and White Belly Sculpin
Streamers should catch trout.
02/29/16 Stream levels are still a little high with
rain in the forecast. The water is much warmer
and Blue-winged olives, Quill Gordons, Blue
Quills, Little Brown Stoneflies and little Black
caddis will be hatching very soon.
03/07/16 The conditions are great and you
can expect some of the above listed insects
to start hatching this week.
03/14/16 Full blown hatches are underway for
the Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Blue-winged
olives, Little Brown stoneflies, and little Black
03/21/16 Great conditions existed up until the
last two days. It is warming back up and you
should do very good after the cold spell.
Where they started, the hatches will continue.
03/28/16 Very good conditions exist right
now. Hatches are underway and customers
are catching lots of trout.
04/11/16 The cold spell is finished and the
water will be warming back up. Hatches of
Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, Little Brown
stoneflies, Little Black caddis and BWOs will
start taking place soon.
04/25/16 There are Hendrickson/Red Quills
hatching in some sections. Stream levels are
in good shape and our customers catching a
lot of trout.
05/02/16 The stream level is a little high and
more rain is on the way. It looks questionable
through this week by maybe okay the weekend.
05/09/16 Eastern Green Drakes are hatching.
That is good enough reason to quit your job
and go fish the Whitetop Laurel.
05/16/16 The levels are a little above normal
but many places can be fished from the bank
on the lower river. Lots of hatches are
underway. It will be cooler for a day or two.
05/30/16 Stream levels are good, slightly low
but good for wading, several hatches are
underway and anglers catching lots of wild and
stocked trout. Light Cahills, little Yellow
Stones, and Sulphurs are the key insects.
06/06/16 The stream has been producing a
lot of trout in all sections, but it is high at this
time. It should fall out fast. Several different
hatches are taking place and conditions
06/20/16 Lots of Sulphurs, Light cahills, Slate
Drakes, Cinnamon Caddis and other insects.
07/04/16 The stream levels have been very
low lately. The water along the railroad track
is too warm at this time. Fish the upper
elevations and early and late in the day.
07/18/16 There are lots of caddisflies hatching
along with little Yellow and little Green
stoneflies. Fish the higher parts of the stream.
08/01/16 The uppermost sections of the creek
are cool enough to fish. Avoid water over 68
degrees. Terrestrials are working good.
08/15/16 Fish the upper part of the creek in
the wild trout section. The water along the road
is too warm. Avoid water over 68 degrees.
08/22/16 The stream levels are up and the
water cooler. Still recommend the wild trout
section. Yellow sallies, caddis and Tricos.
09/26/16 The is a chance of rain everyday
through Friday. The weather is cooler and the
water no longer too warm. You should be able
to catch trout in any section of the stream.
Mahogany duns, Great Autumn Brown
sedges, Cinnamon caddis, little Yellow stones,
and other insects are hatching and terrestrials
10/10/16 Conditions are good and we are
getting some good reports. Stream levels will
be lower and you have to stay hidden.
10/17/16 All sections of the river should be in
good shape except the water is low. You will
have to stay hidden from the trout.
11/07/16 The stream levels are still very low
but the water cool and the trout feeding. You
have to stay hidden from them and make good
presentations - longer leaders and tippet.
11/14/16 We received two good reports from
customers in spite of low water levels. Blue
winged olives are hatching good.
11/28/16 Water levels are low. Trout are being
caught in the stocked and wild trout sections.
Midges and Blue-winged olives are hatching
and Brown sculpin catching some large browns..
12/19/16 The water temperature is very low,
averaging about 38 but should come back up
soon. Midges, Creams and Reds, fished with
the larva and pupa in tandem will work. Winter
stoneflies are hatching.
01/02/17 The weather is going to be nice and
warm. The stream is at an okay level. Fish
Cream or Red (blood) midges in tandem.
Winter stoneflies are hatching as well.
01/09/17 The water is very cold right now but
will start warming back up for the next few
days. Midges and Winter stoneflies.
01/16/17 Blue-winged olive, size 20, should be
hatching along with Cream and Red midges.
The water is much warmer and you should be
able to catch trout along the road of wild trout
01/23/17 The water is up to 45 during the
day, with stream levels in decent shape.
Conditions are good in the stocked and wild
trout sections. Little BWOs are hatching.
01/30/17 The water temp is back down to the
high thirties. Fish Red and Cream midges
with the larva and pupa in tandem.
02/06/17 Temperature are up and down and
soon Spring hatches will start. For now, we
are still recommending Midges and winter
stoneflies. Flow are a little low but okay.
02/20/17 The weather and water is much
warmer, water near 50 degrees, and major
spring hatches should begin soon -Blue
Quills, Quill Gordons, Little Brown Stoneflies,
Little Black Caddis and Blue-winged olives.
02/27/17 We received reports that Quill
Gordons and Blue Quill are hatching in the
lower section of the river. The others listed
above are probably hatching as well.
03/13/17 The past week was a good one,
with lots of trout being caught. The colder
weather has slowed things down some
should be in good shape by the weekend.
03/27/17 There are Quill Gordons, Blue
Quills, Little Brown stoneflies, Little Black
Caddis and Blue-winged olives hatching.
The stream is in good shape.
04/19/17 The stream levels are still a little
high but falling and should be in good
shape the rest of the week. There are lots
of hatches taking place.