Cant help with the fishing. Oconoluftee visitors center typically has elk coming out in the late afternoons early evenings. Look in the field next to the center. Some friends told us they are sometimes in a field near the High School in Cherokee but we did not see them when we were there. And of course a drive out to Cataloochee is where the most of them are located. Can't say if there is a better time of day.
I understand that this year bear have been spotted further south in the park. You might look near Clingmans Dome and the rangers have said there is good activity near Andrews Bald. Roaring fork in Gatlinburg is another place to find them at times.
I havent visited Cherokee to dine in a number of years. We will be there in a couple of weeks tho. I know Peter's Pancake House used to be very good for breakfast. Come back and gives us a trip report, would be good to have info on the area.
Everything that Born with Wheels said is right on.
Go to the mountain farm Museum a couple of hours before dark and the elk will usually be in the field right there. The bear are usually seen in the park. Cades Cove is a good place. Last week in Gatlinburg a bear crossed 441 in mid town during the day.
As for fishing I have not fished there in a few years. In the past we would go for a couple of days every year. At the park in mid town the area can be good. Also just below the bridge at the park. At the bridge by the old Cherokee fun park can be really good and any where in that area. The area by Yogi in the smokies can be good. A general rule is if it is an area that is easy for the stocking truck to get to the fishing can be good. Look for where others have been pulling off the road. As for bait and what is biting stop by Big Don's on big cove road.
Best bet for elk is Cataloochee field edges at dawn and dusk. Best bet for fishing is get a guide to take you to the hot spots on the Tuckaseege River or maybe up on Lake Glenville, but Fontana and even the rivers are still cloudy and/or full of debris from the recent floods and landslides. Bears are typically elusive in summer, foraging for berries, bugs, etc., so hard to predict when they might show up anywhere.
Just had a pair of Elk cross the road in front of our car right before the field at Oconoluftee yesterday. They were feeding right on the edge of the road and decided the grass was greener across the way. What beautiful creatures. We also saw a momma bear with 4 cubs outside the entrance to Cade's Cove and a few deer inside the cove. Have a few mores days left, will be in Cherokee Thursday so may have more to report by then.
We stayed in Cherokee at the Super 8, nice hotel newly remodeled and they went all out, not just a 1/2 way remodel. Went to Cataloochee about 5 or 6 pm. Its a narrow winding road but not near as rough as Rich Mountain road near Cades Cove. We saw a couple elk in the first field we came to, saw about 4 more in the next, went onward towards the houses, stopped an explored a couple places, came back to the truck and one was close by with a couple others back in the trees, we came back out and the field that had 4 of them now had 10!, We estimated that the first 4 were still there so all told we figured 18 elk. The only thing weird was we did not see any males with antlers. Got a few good photo's and I am working on how to post photo's as I am not good at that sort of thing. We also saw 1 deer and 2 wild turkeys. It was almost dark when we came back down the mountain.
We saw a lot of people fishing the Little River in Townsend when we were over there. Didnt see them catching anything but we did see some fish in the water when we were tubing.
We stayed on Soco rd at the KOA. There was an elk crossing on the way in which we saw eld early and Kate in the day. We fished but had no luck as the owner of the line AL outfitters store said, "No one was having luck that weekend." We has a great time!
Any recent sighting of Elk
We were there 2 weeks ago and saw 1 elk in the field before Oconaluftee Visitor Center on our way from Gatlinburg to Cherokee about 9:30 am. It was just grazing in the field, and on our way back to Gatlinburg late afternoon there was 1 grazing, so assumed it was the same one. Previously we have never seen elk in this area so was glad we got to see the one elk at that time of day.