Stream Levels

These graphs can be valuable to understand what stream levels are like before you head to the water. All measurements are in cubic feet per second and the triangles on the graph denote the average flow measured on that day of the year.

We have also included notes as to what different water levels mean and how to use this information to predict water levels on other streams. We make no claims regarding safety, only with regard to fishing.

Little River above Townsend

  • Use this graph for all prongs of the Little River as well as Abrams Creek and its tributaries.
  • 120 – 400 cfs A little high but very fishable. This is a typical spring flow.
  • 400 – 700 cfs  Be careful where you wade, but water is still fishable. You may prefer smaller streams.
  • 900 cfs  Only a very few spots will be fishable on the large streams. This level or higher is generally considered blown out. We will not guide anglers under these conditions

USGS Water-data graph for Little River at Townsend


Oconaluftee River

  • This graph is valuable for judging water levels on the Oconaluftee, Bradley Fork, and Straight Fork but this gauge is pretty far downstream on the lower boundary of the Cherokee Reservation. If water levels are already falling they may be considerably lower upstream in the park. It may also be used to make judgements about Deep Creek.
  • 700 cfs High but fishable in many spots. Smaller streams and tributaries may be better
  • 1000 cfs or higher  Large streams should be considered blown out. A few small streams may be fishable.

USGS Water-data graph for Oconaluftee at Birdtown


Tellico River at Tellico Plains

  • Use this chart for the Tellico River system including North River, Bald River, and Sycamore Creek. Use this graph along with the Cheoah River graph to get an idea of water levels in the Citico Creek and Slickrock Creek areas.
  • 600 – 800 cfs is the upper limit of fishable. Workable spots will be few and far between. You may find better conditions on smaller streams than on the large streams.

USGS Water-data graph for Tellico River at Tellico Plains


Cheoah River

  • Cheoah River is a smallmouth bass stream that flows into Calderwood Lake. It can be used to get an idea of flows on Slickrock Creek and Twenty Mile Creek.
  • Use it together with the Tellico River gauge to get an idea of flows on Citico Creek and Santeetlah Creek
  • High flows from Cheoah Dam for whitewater rafting occur at times so high water on this river that occurs independent of rain is probably from the dam.
  • Flows ranging up to 150 cfs are generally good for fishing for smallmouth bass in the summer.

USGS Water-data graph for Cheoah River


Cataloochee Creek

  • Use the graph for all streams in Cataloochee Valley including Big & Little Cataloochee Creek, Caldwell Creek, Palmer Creek, and Rough Creek. This can also be used to get a rough idea of conditions on Big Creek.
  • Use this graph along with the Oconaluftee graph to get an idea of flows on Raven Fork
  • Up to 150 cfs is excellent
  • Consider blown out if levels are at 300 cfs or higher

USGS Water-data graph for Cataloochee Creek


Pigeon River below the power plant at Waterville, North Carolina

  • Use this graph for flows on the Pigeon River upstream of Newport, Tennessee.
  • This graph also provides valuable flow data for Big Creek in the Smokies.
  • Sharp, vertical line jumps in the flow are from the power plant. More gradual rises come from Big Creek and the Pigeon River Narrows upstream of the power plant.
  • Consider many sections of the Pigeon wadeable up to around 200 cfs

USGS Water-data graph for Pigeon River at Waterville


Tuckaseegee River near Cullowhee, NC

  • Use this graph to judge water levels on the Tuckaseegee River. It is mostly fished in the Delayed Harvest section near Dillsboro, NC.
  • Sharp, vertical jumps in the graph come from dam releases. More gradual rises come from rainfall.
  • Rises from rainfall will make the river very muddy.
  • Click here for water release schedules from Duke Power

USGS Water-data graph for Tuckaseegee near Cullowhee