Citico Creek deserves more respect than it gets. Unfortunately, because it’s stocked with half the number of trout that the nearby Tellico River is, anglers believe Tellico is a better fishery, which isn’t necessarily true. This East Tennessee fishery is slated to receive weekly plants totaling many thousands of beefy planters through September.
Citico has its strong points, too. This creek, which is also accessed from Tellico Plains, rests between the population centers of Knoxville and Chattanooga and receives large trout plants over a six-mile stretch of water. (Tellico is stocked over a 13-mile stretch.) Meanwhile, a dirt road (the road the follows Tellico is paved) and less publicity keep many from making a few casts here.
One thing to consider before writing this system off is the Tellico River Hatchery stocks the same size fish in both systems, meaning those popular Tellico Trophies are released in the Citico, too, roughly 500 of them or about 10 a week. Those 10 fish per week range between three and eight pounds and due to less pressure have a better chance of being caught by anglers who fish this system. In addition, the same 12-16 inch rainbows that everyone loves on the Tellico, are also being planted here.
“The trout you see into Citico Creek are pulled from the same batches that go into the Tellico,” says Travis Scott, hatchery manager at the Tellico River Hatchery. “We put some huge trout in there and have since 2014.”
Citico is a great system for beginners and veteran trout anglers and the entire stretch from where you first meet the stream on downriver is open to all kinds of angling. Most however, cast Mepps, Panther Martins and Blue Fox spinners and use FireBait, Power Bait and salmon eggs. We fished for a few hours on Wednesday with Gold Label, Silver Label and Orange Deluxe exclusively and while we had to work harder to catch trout than we did on the Tellico the day prior, we still managed to catch and release near limits, including one Tellico Trophy.
Keep in mind, the season just started here, and with this area getting hammered on opening week many of the fish were yanked out of the stream. Fortunately, weekly trout plants are set to raise the inventory of rainbows each week. (Browns weren’t planted here last year as they were in the Tellico.) Still there are plenty of fish to go around now for anglers who are willing to work the stream and bank on far less pressure than on the Tellico River. You won’t have to arrive here at first light to get a spot on the bank.
The Citico is a clear system, which means four-pound fluorocarbon is a must. If you use anything heavier chances of getting bit decrease. I’d recommend using a size 6 or 8 single salmon egg hook (we bought Gamakatsu red ones) and two small BB split shots to keep your bait down. While you can free drift eggs, we opted to employ a Leyland Trout Float to help our eggs stay inches from the bottom without getting hung up. That float is also a great strike indicator.
One egg will get the job done, but our group used two to three eggs on our single egg hook for a few reasons. More than one egg gives you a larger profile in this medium size system, releases more trout egg juice into the water to induce strikes and covers up the hook completely. Most of the day we used the Pautzke Gold Label and new Silver Label, but often switched to Orange Deluxe to induce strikes when they weren’t charging at the red.
Polarized sunglasses are a must here, but this past week, trout weren’t stacked in large pools where they could be seen from the bank, like they normally are. Instead they were spread throughout the system’s many tailouts, deep at the base of small waterfalls, hiding behind large boulders and beneath overhanging banks. Grab a jar of salmon eggs, pitch into this areas with light line without spooking the fish and you’ll find fast action, too.
Editor’s Note: Citico Creek is closed to fishing on Thursday and Friday for trout stocking. In addition to a valid fishing license a daily Tellico permit is required to fish this stream. That permit funds the rearing of the larger than average rainbows stocked weekly and worth every penny.