Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Little Yellow Quills (
Heptagenia Group)
3.    Needle Stoneflies
4     Slate Drakes
5     Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
6.    Grasshoppers
7.    Ants
8.    Beetles
9  .  Craneflies
10.  Great Brown Autumn Sedge

More Basics For Those New To Fly Fishing and A Few Things
Even Some Old Wise Men May Not Know

One of the overlooked foods of trout and especially, the smallmouth bass, is the
. The Crayfish, a crustacean, belongs to the order Decopoda. They resemble
their marine relatives the lobster. Crayfish have ten legs including their front two that
are used to gather food and for defense. They can be brown, green, reddish or black.

There are over five-hundred species in North America. Although the average size in
most streams is much less, than can be found up to six inches long. They prefer
moderately clean water. The streams of the Smokies have a large population of them.

Crayfish grow by molting or shedding their skins. When they do molt they must hide to
protect themselves until their new shells harden. They usually hide under rocks during
the day and come out at night or very low light conditions to feed and move about.
Keep in mind, crayfish are small early in life and it's not just the large trout that eat
them. All sizes of fish eat the small ones.

Crustaceans, leeches, aquatic worms, scuds, sowbug and baitfish are a source of
food for some of the largest trout to be found. Some of these foods are important food
for trout in the streams of the Smokies. You should learn all you can about the  
habitat, distribution and behavior of each of the species. The more you know, the
better you will be able to imitate their appearance and behavior with a fly.

Sculpin are very important food for trout in the Smokies as well as most other cold
water trout streams :They are in the Cottidae family and of the genus
Cottus. Sculpins
are not minnows. They are a group of fish. In streams they are found in riffles, runs,
flats, as well as the slower moving water of pools. One simply reason trout like them is
because they provide a substantial meal.  In fact, all other thing being equal, trout that
feed on sculpin are, with few exceptions, always larger than those that feed only on
small insects. The larger trout in the Smokies, particularly the large brown trout, feed
on them at every opportunity.

Sculpins are well camouflaged in their environment and not real easy for the trout to
find and catch. Their color changes to match their environment in an amazing
manner. They survive their predators which include the trout or otherwise they would
not exist in any quantity. They are strictly bottom dwellers that hide in and under the
rocks. Sculpins swim with erratic darting motions and move around well in the rocks
they live around. They vary in color from brown, tan, olive and many different shades
and mixes of these colors.

Aquatic worms are thought to only exist in slow moving streams and lakes but they
also exist in many areas of the streams of the Smokies. Aquatic worms look a lot like
earthworms, something many of us first put on a hook. The big difference is that
earthworms don’t live in water. The four families found in North America, fortunately
for anglers, all resemble each other.  Most species of aquatic worms are smaller than
earthworms. In fact, compared to many earthworms, they are very small. The size and
color of the imitation is about the only thing of any importance.

Aquatic worms like soft bottoms. They are usually found in slow moving streams with
silt or organic debris. They are brown, red, dark blue or black colors and can possibly
be up to five inches long. They can move along fairly well by stretching and pulling
their bodies. Since they live on the bottom imitations should be fished on or near the
bottom. You cannot present they too slowly. Aquatic worms don’t move very fast.

Leeches are a major food source for trout in lakes and ponds and some slower
moving rivers that hold trout. They prefer those that have a lots of weeds. I know one
thing for sure about them. You don't wade the Madison River without waders, even
when the water is warm because of them. The river has a huge population of big ones
up to several inches long. They are sometimes called bloodworms. In streams and
rivers, warm, shallow, sheltered waters away from riffles and runs are most likely
where you will find leeches. In the Madison meadows, they are even found in the
faster moving water that you wouldn't think would have them. They slowly search the
bottom looking for something they can eat, so imitations of them should always be
fished slowly and on the bottom  

Not a very good picture, but this is a leech I found on a rock that I picked up
out of the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park. It was about six
inches long. Look at its mouth.

Copyright 2011 James Marsh