Abstract: McNabb Creek is a tributary stream to the North River in the Cherokee National Forest. For most of its fishable length, McNabb is 15 to 30 feet wide with some pools up to 3 feet deep. There are no major waterfalls but many small (3 to 4 feet high) ones. Brook (southern strain), rainbow and brown trout are all present. A poorly maintained hiking trail runs its entire length with the stream always within sight. Most of the trail is flat until the last half mile where it becomes very steep (several switchbacks).
McNabb Creek is a tributary stream to the North River/Tellico River/Little Tennessee River in the Cherokee National Forest. Its headwaters are over 3000 feet in elevation with the highest point being Hemlock Knob at 4019 feet. Its headwaters are over 3000 feet in elevation with the highest point being Hemlock Knob at 4019 feet. The stream begins at North River where it has an elevation of 1820 feet and is fishable for about 2.75 miles to an elevation of 2740 feet. That equates to an average gradient of 6% but much of the lower half of the stream is fairly flat while the upper fishable portion has gradients in excess of 10%. For most of its fishable length, McNabb is 15 to 30 feet wide with some pools up to 3 feet deep. There are no major waterfalls but many small (3 to 4 feet high) ones.
Stream-side vegetation is dense, rhododendron, hemlock, and birch. A poorly maintained hiking trail runs its entire length with the stream always within sight. Most of the trail is flat being a former railroad line (used to log the watershed in the early 1900’s) until the last half mile where it becomes very steep (several switchbacks).
Fishing is difficult both because of the dense rhododendron and the small trout population. McNabb Creek has suffered for decades from acid runoff caused by the exposure of a natural acid bearing rock formation in its headwaters. The stream has recovered to the point where some natural reproduction is occurring (see the article in ACTU home page on the recovery efforts for McNabb Creek). Brook trout (southern strain) were stocked into the stream in 2005 but their numbers have not yet expanded to fill all of the available habitat. Rainbow and brown trout are also present but their numbers may even be lower. Creek chubs are becoming abundant.
Current regulations allow year-round fishing with flies and lures only. A three fish per day limit with size limits is imposed. Most anglers will find this stream to be very difficult to fish and to catch fish. Once the brook trout have become securely established (~2009), the trail may be improved and the rhododendron trimmed in the stream channel to improve the fishing experience.
Submitter: Jim Herrig
Date Submitted: 5/22/06
Name: McNabb Creek
Location and Access: In Tellico Plains (at the junction of Hwy 68 and 165), drive east on Hwy 165 (Tellico-Robbinsville road or Cherohalla Hwy). At the east edge of town stay on Hwy 165; do not turn onto Hwy 360. Continue on Hwy 165 for about 5 miles. It parallels the Tellico River and crosses it once. Just passed the Oosterneck pulloff, take Forest Service Road (FSR) 210 toward Bald River Falls and the Ranger Station. Continue on FSR 210 for about 11 miles to North River Road (FSR 217). It parallels Tellico River and crosses it once. Continue on FSR 217 for about 2.5 miles. It parallels North River. You will cross a bridge over Hemlock Creek. When the road turns right to cross the bridge over North River, go straight to the McNabb Creek trail parking lot. Walk upstream from there.
Fish Species: brook, brown, and rainbow trout; creek chubs;
Regulations: Single hook, artificial only.