Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Little BWOs)
2. Mahogany Duns
3. Little Yellow Quills (Heptagenia Group)
4. Little Yellow Stoneflies
5. Needle Stoneflies
6. Slate Drakes
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
9. Ants (includes Flying Ants)
"New" Fly Fishing Strategy Series - What Fly To Use - Part 7
As mentioned two days ago, the strategy for fishing the streams of Great Smoky
Mountains National Park is changing from that used for the high, highly stained water
of two days ago as the water conditions get back to more normal levels. We had some
rainfall last night but it has little effect on the stream levels so far. The forecast for the
next few days call for a 20 percent chance of rain with continued cool weather.
Conditions are excellent except the water is still too high to wade safely in many areas
of the streams. You should use caution when and if you do wade.
As of yesterday, the streams had cleared up nicely and had little color to them. It's still
possible to be successful using streamers that imitate sculpin and baitfish during the
day, but they will work much better under low light conditions such as when it's heavily
overcast like it is right now at the time I am writing this. If there's much light, you will
probably want to fish the streamers only early and late in the day. You should also
keep in mind that you should adjust the color of the streamers to those more suitable
for clear water conditions. White and Black are always good colors in clear water. You
don't need the chartreuse and bright yellow colors any longer. You may want to
consider using shades of brown and red which are also good clear water colors. The
water still has a little stain but it has cleared up considerably.
In many areas, tiny streams and trickles of water are still washing food into the main
streams. These are excellent places to fish imitations of crane fly larvae, ants, and
beetles. If you come up on a likely looking spot where the water is running in from the
surrounding area of the stream you should try this. Cast the fly up near the bank
where the water is running in and let it dead-drift downstream a few feet. If trout are
concentrated in the area feeding, you will know it very quickly. If not continue with the
strategy I'm about to out line.
What often is deceptive, is that there are still far more aquatic insect nymphs and
larvae in the streams that are available and easy for the trout to acquire than
terrestrial insects. That isn't to say the streams don't have plenty of terrestrials in the
water because I'm sure they do. The most available and plentiful foods in the streams
at this time of the year is near the same as it was two to four weeks ago except there
are fewer small or tiny Blue-winged Olive nymphs. There are still plenty of larger, hook
size 18 to 16 Blue-winged Olive nymphs in the streams. This consist of Eastern BWOs
(Drunella genera species) and baetis species that hatch in the Fall. There are still
more of these nymphs in the stream that's available for the trout to eat than anything
else. Until you observe something that I describe below hatching, you're odds are best
to fish an imitation of the BWO nymph.
Just prior to the rain I found a few Needle Stoneflies that had hatched in the high
elevations. That should continue and the hatches will progress downstream as the
days go by. These nymphs are clingers and are hidden beneath the rocks and stones
in the streambed until they get ready to hatch. If you see any that have hatched, you
should change and start fishing an imitations of the Needle Stonefly nymph.
I haven't seen any yet, but the Mahogany Duns should start hatching in the higher to
mid elevation streams any day. These nymphs are crawlers and don't stay as well
hidden as the clinger nymphs. If you see any of the duns that have hatched, by all
means switch to an imitation of the Mahogany Dun nymph. These are small, about the
same size as the BWO nymphs, but a completely different color. Fish the nymph until
you observe them hatching and then switch to an emerger or dun. Very late in the
day, watch for a spinner fall and use a spinner imitation if you do.
There are some Slate Drakes that are hatching but they are very sparse and
scattered throughout the day. If you start seeing some nymph shucks on the boulders
and rocks, switch from the BWO nymph to a Slate Drake Nymph. Check the water late
in the day for spinners. If there's cloud cover, the odds are much higher for these
mayflies to hatch. Remember, they crawl out of the water and hatch.
The Little Yellow Quills will soon start hatching in the higher elevations in the near
future if this cool weather hasn't already started the emergence of these mayflies. The
hatch will progress downstream as the days go by. If you observe any duns in the
bushes or air, switch to an imitation of the Little Yellow Quill nymph. If the hatch is
underway, switch to an Little Yellow Quill emerger or dun. Check the water late in the
day for spinners. The trout in the high elevations streams eagerly eat these Little
Yellow Quill spinners during the egg laying process. This includes the brook trout.
Little Yellow Stoneflies will make another appearance in the near future. Use the same
strategy as you do for the above hatches and just keep your eye out for them. If you
see the adults, switch to an imitation of the Little Yellow Stonefly nymph. Late in the
afternoon, if you spot any egg layers, switch to an imitation of the adult.
It is possible none of these hatches will occur, depending on your location and time
you are fishing during the next few days. If not, stick with the BWO nymph and
continue spot checking the drainage areas using terrestrial imitations. That will
provide your highest odds of success. Again, keep in mind this is for the highest odds
of catching trout. There's absolutely nothing wrong if you want to fish a dry fly
imitation and take your chances. Just rest assured, unless you just don't know how to
fish nymphs, you will be lowering your odds of success. If you do hook a few, you will
probably have more fun using the dry fly.
I'll be continuing this strategy series next Tuesday.
Copyright 2011 James Marsh