Working in the outdoor industry and helping outfit people for exploration I have learned that it is so important to take time and get outside. We all need to learn how to balance life and the outdoors. This past September, a few of us from the shop started planning a fly fishing trip in the Smoky Mountains. Ethan, Lucas, and I have been hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and camping for many years but Ethan and I had never been on a fly fishing trip. Lucas, an avid fly fisherman, told us about this spot right off of Lake Fontana in North Carolina. Hazel Creek flows out of the Smoky Mountains and pour into Lake Fontana. We collectively decided that we would get a ferry from the marina to the mouth of Hazel Creek and hike five miles to our campsite.

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The morning of our trip we left the marina on a cool foggy morning. Even though the clouds blocked a lot of our view, what we could see was breathtaking. Ridges surrounded us on all sides. As we rounded one point we were able to see a black bear drinking from the lake. Places like Lake Fontana help put in perspective how small we are and how simple life can really be.

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Once we arrived at the mouth of Hazel Creek we were pleasantly surprised at how well maintained the trail was. Because the trail followed the creek there was no drastic elevation change for the majority of the hike. The first campsite (Proctor #86) was about a mile from the trail head and then our campsite (Sawdust Pile #85) was about five miles from the trail head. There is also one other campsite (Bone Valley #83) five miles farther from the site we stayed at.

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Ethan was loaded down for our four day trip.

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Hazel Creek turned out to be a great fly fishing location. The first day we headed back down stream. There were so many great spots to fish that you could not fish every spot in the day. The next day we woke up early and headed upstream. Again we found so many intriguing fishing holes. The final day we found a hole that had a few monster trout in it but a few hours and fly changes later we learned how they got so big.   21683784184_a57d9259ba_z

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Our final night there a large storm blew through. We woke up the next morning to find that the creek was now two feet deeper than the day prior.

I would really recommend anyone that enjoys fly fishing to plan a trip to Hazel Creek. Next year we are looking to go back but hike ten miles in to the next campsite on the trail.

Until next time,

-Matt

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