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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I may come up and fish Calderwood hard in the middle of October. I've fished it many times but may get to do some night fishing this time. I have only caught walleye, trout and perch in the lake myself but I know there are Tiger Muskie, catfish, smallmouth, bluegill and crappie in small numbers. Is there any point to just tossing out something for big catfish, especially at night? What about the Muskie? I was thinking of throwing rainbow trout imitations for them. Finally, I have some bright underwater LED lights. Would there be any point in lighting up the water somewhere on the lake at night to attract fish? I have heard stories of schools of trout and walleye swimming through the lights at night. I never know if those are just stories though. Thanks in advance for any info.
 

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I don't think that there is nearly the variety of fish in Calderwood as you suspect. Odd fish show up in Cheoah, Chilhowee, and Calderwood Lakes because locals stock them or when they were tiny they somehow slipped through the generators. The variety of fish in Calderwood may gradually change because Fontana's release water is gradually getting a little warmer especially in the latter part of autumn. I've fished Calderwood more than 100 times. I've never caught a Catfish, Bluegill, Walleye, or Crappie. I caught a Largemouth Bass once, right where the Cheoah River enters the top end. That was back in the 1970's. I took some minnows and fished them down near the dam about 20 years ago and caught some very small, Smallmouths. The biggest one was about 10 inches long. I saw a huge Smallmouth jump in the same area about 10 years ago. There are some Smallmouths in Calderwood but they're hard to catch.

I saw a picture of a Musky from Calderwood on another forum about 7-8 years ago. It looked like it was about 45". I had another angler tell me he hooked a Musky and had it right next to the boat before it got off. This was about 5 years ago. A friend of my father caught a Musky in Cheoah back in the late 1950's. I saw his picture with it. It looked like it was about 50".

The fish you're most likely to catch in Calderwood are Rainbows, Browns, and maybe a few Redeyes or Yellow Perch. You might catch an occasional Brook Trout. North Carolina hasn't stocked Brookies any time lately. If Tennessee has extra Brookies, they'll stock them occasionally. Back in the 1970's I caught a pair of 8 inch native Brookies that probably got washed down into the lake from the upper stretches of Slickrock or Little Slickrock Creeks. Nobody stocked Brook Trout back then.

If I was gonna night fish I'd use a floating light. You don't have to fish very deep, 8-15 feet. You'll probably do best fishing down near the dam where the current will be less. Tying up to the little portage dock near the dam is a good spot. You'll mostly catch Rainbows but an occasional Brookie or Redeye is possible. You might be able to catch Browns or Smallmouth at night without lights...??? I've never tried that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have caught Rainbows, Yellow Perch and Walleye in both Calderwood and Cheoah. Still no browns or brookies in either for me and haven't so much as seen a bass let alone catch one. I know the the other stuff has slow growth rates and very few areas that warm up enough to induce spawning. Was just curious if any of it is worth targeting some. Particularly the Muskie. My main target will be trout with walleye usually ending up as a incidental catch. I have not managed to catch a trophy trout yet. 16" to 18" seems to be about as big as I can mange to get to bite. I'm really hoping the extra time I will have to spend on just that lake will pay off and I will finally get that bigun.
 

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I'd recommend gold Rapalas and Rebel Crawdad plugs for Browns. I'm surprised you have not caught a Brown if you've fished there multiple times. It took me about 40 years to catch a sizable Brown. I caught a 21" five pounder about 4 years ago just downstream of Slickrock Creek. It hit the smallest size Berkley Shad in Slick Purple Candy. I was just about to pull in and quit. Just after I took the rod out of the rod holder, the fish hit. The wily Brown soon thereafter wrapped me around a stick. I turned off the motor and drifted downstream and got the line off the stick and landed it about 2 minutes later.

I hooked a bigger Brown down near the dam about 10 years ago. I was using my first lead-core outfit and trolling on electric. I had a lot of line out and was using a gold Countdown Rapala. I hooked it on the next to last straightaway before you can see the dam. It hit very hard! That plug was probably running about 50 feet. By the time I got the big Brown close to the boat I was within sight of the dam. It finally came to the surface about 20 feet from the boat. It was very brightly colored. It looked like it would go 8-10 pounds. After being seen it dove, made the drag scream and the hook pulled out.

A guy caught a Brown close to 20 pounds a year or two ago. It's picture is on this forum someplace. Everybody I've met in Tallassee, TN tells me that the 23 pound Brown that was on the wall of Hoss Holt's store and boat ramp about a half-mile downstream of Chilhowee Dam was caught at Calderwood. It was the state record Brown for many years. He told folks it came out of the river behind his store. This was before TVA took his store and made Tellico Lake out of the lower Little T.

The Browns spawn in Slickrock Creek in the pool beneath the first waterfall. I have a friend who's watched them. There's been Browns in Calderwood ever since the Civilian Conservation Corp rejuvenated Slickrock Creek back in 1930's. They repaired the damage Babcock Lumber Company did clearcutting vast areas along The Tennessee, North Carolina border. In a nice finishing touch, they hiked in with backpacks full of water and German Browns and put them above the two waterfalls that are on the lower end of the stream. They probably built the trail I used to fish Slickrock back in the 1970's Back in the 1970's about every tenth Trout I caught was a Brown. I think the Brown rate has about doubled over the years. Tennessee stocks some Browns occasionally. That's good news for the gene pool.

Most of the Browns are small same as the Rainbows but there are some brutes prowling the lake. Catching them is not easy! Something about the Brown's experience in European streams during the ice ages must have made them more wary than other Trout species. They must have been driven into barren, continental shelf streams where hiding was muy importante! People, birds, and River Otters were driven there too. River Otters can really thin out Trout streams during droughts. I'm sure people and birds did well too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Any point in working the branches that feed the lake? I'm sure I will toy around on slick rock some, but I was wondering about some of the larger branches. Any chance of a wild brookie or maybe even a keeper size rainbow or brown wandering up from the lake in them? We also may camp a night on the lake. I know bears are active right now. Should I be concerned about them as long as I am keeping the site free of attractants? We may bring some bear spray. I would rather be armed, but I am pretty sure we cant bring weapons there.
 

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I would not bother fishing Slickrock's lower reaches. I might walk up to the lower of the two falls to see where the Browns spawn but you're probably gonna be early for seeing fish there, I'd guess. I've never walked to see the falls. When I fished Slickrock I walked down a trail along the lake that then took a turn up the mountain. Then I had to climb up a really high ridge and then go back down some to hit the creek well above the falls. Then I got to sneak about and fish for the spooky Browns. Rainbows might go up Slickrock when the Browns are spawning to try to get some eggs. Browns might run them out. It's not a large stream. There might be fish fights. My friend who talked about the spawning pool, I don't recall him mentioning any Rainbows.

I suggest that you camp at the ramp. If you camp down lake, you'll probably see Bears in the evening or night. The few places that it's flat enough to camp down lake are places that Bears frequent. I've never seen a Bear swim across Calderwood. It's too hard to climb out of the water nearly everywhere. I've seen many Bears and Deer swim across Chilhowee. I've seen a few Deer swim across the top end of Calderwood. Did they not see the bridge? ;) Maybe the Bears use the bridge? I think that Bears are smarter than Deer but they don't see nearly as well.

There's two spots down near the dam with some flat space on the national park side. One of 'em is Parsons Branch and I don't know the name of the other stream. You can camp there but you should expect Bear visits. Bears like those spots. The last and only time I camped at Parsons Branch we had two different Bears visit. The second one stayed a long time trying to figure out how to get our food cooler down out of the tree. We got in a boat and anchored about 20 yards out and fished till the Bear went away. Then we moved our camp up to the ramp. It was a slow ride in the dark and heavy fog.

Calderwood is darn foggy at night when they're generating.
 
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