12/24/08      Special Note: If the magazines can put out issues a month ahead of
the date on them, I can put out some articles a few days ahead of the date on them

Since this is the holidays, most of you will probably be staying home or visiting friends and family
during the coming days. I doubt that many of you will be traveling to and fishing the Smokies
although I hope you do.  January and the first part of February is probably the coldest time of the
year and you will have to pick out the better days to expect much success fishing the freestone
streams. By the end of February, everyone will be doing their best to force the bugs to hatch and
the trout to respond even though they will probably have to wait a few more days to see any
surface action. That considered, I thought I would write about some fishing trips we have made
to various other destinations. Don't expect these articles to win any awards, just tell you about
some things I hope you will find interesting and a few that I look back on with a gleam in my eye.

Whitetop Laurel Creek - Part 1

Some of you have probably heard of Laurel Creek or at least feel like you have. It is
such a common name. There is one in Great Smoky Mountains National Park but
there is also a Laurel Creek in the Northeast corner of the state not far from the
South Holston River. It runs across the Tennessee and the Virginia state line at
Damascus. I will be writing about it later. Today I am writing about the stream that
intersects it, all of which lies within the state of Virginia - the Whitetop Laurel Creek.
After picking up Whitetop Laurel, Laurel Creek runs right through the neat little
town of Damascus, Virginia.

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 is now a very nice
hiking trail that follows the Whitetop Laurel Creek for about two miles upstream,
providing access to some very good fly fishing water.

A road parallels much of the stream for a long way. The area along the road
leading from Damascus is stocked with trout by the state. Catching trout is no
problem there. It is a beautiful, medium size stream with the typical run, riffle, pool
type water that flows down the mountain. It is fairly easy to fish from the banks or by
wading in most areas, although some of the pools get rather deep.

The best part of the Whitetop Laurel Creek is the special regulation water 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
Creek. Just upstream from there is special regulation waters, single hook artificial
only, and lots of wild trout. This is one of, if not the best, freestone stream in the
State of Virginia.

We have fished this stream many times. I would say the best time to fish it would be
during the months of April and May when there are a lot of hatches occurring and
the dry fly fishing is great. There is over three miles of regulated water there. There
is also miles of stocked water back down on the road leading out of Damascus so
there is no pressure on the much more difficult to access part of the stream. There
is also a lot of water you can fish downstream of the special reg area all the way
back down to the road.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh