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

New Fly Fishing Strategies Series - What Fly To Use - Part 14

Remember: The key is to imitate the insects and or other food that's most
available and easiest for the trout to acquire. If you haven't read the first parts of this
series, please do so. It will help make this article more meaningful.

Yesterday was the first time in about a week that I've been able to spend any time on
the water and that was only for about two hours. That consumed a half day of time
traveling to and from the North Carolina side of the park. Keep in mind, spending time
on the water is of little to no benefit in so far as determining the best strategy. Unless
stream and weather conditions vary greatly from what is normal, the basic strategy
shouldn't change from that of the past few weeks.

By the way, that's why I don't do fishing reports as such. What I or anyone else does
at any given time at any given location shouldn't affect the strategy anyone else
should use. That's the single biggest mistake made by anglers. To make it as simple
as simple can be, trying to copy what someone else did is a huge mistake. There are
dozens of reasons as to why it's a huge mistake. I've written about many of them in
previous articles. It's as stupid as copying a total stranger's income tax return.

I do know from previous years of studying the food that's in the streams of the
Smokies extensively, there wouldn't be any significant changes in the food that's listed
above. The primary food that's available for the trout doesn't change. The order of
the aquatic insect hatches never changes. The timing of the hatches varies with the
weather and stream conditions, but not the order. The other foods, crustaceans,
baitfish, scullpin, etc., don't change.

At this time of year, the overall numbers of aquatic insect that hatch picks up from that
of the hot summer because of the lower water temperatures. Those insects that hatch
during the Fall, including several species of mayflies called Blue-winged Olives, Slate
Drakes, Little Yellow Quills, Needle Stoneflies and Great Autumn Brown Sedges, come
into play when the water temperature drops down into the fifties and occur off and on
depending on the location and changes in the weather. This continues periodically  
until the water temperature drops into the mid to low forties. When that happens, the
only thing that hatches of interest to anglers are midges.

I found three different mayflies called BWOs hatching on the Oconaluftee River
yesterday afternoon. There were a few Fall baetis, a very few larger
Drunella Eastern
BWOs, and a few very small, what appeared to be,
Acentrella species. These were all
sparse hatches and for a good reason. The sky was bright blue without a cloud in
sight. I say that and one reason I chose the stream I fished is because it has an
almost solid overhead canopy of tree limbs. I fished our #18 BWO emerger (CDC fly)
and caught several rainbows and one small brown trout. I didn't change flies a single
time because I didn't need to. I left the stream catching trout.   

Another reason I fished the Oconaluftee was that I was hoping to spot a large brown
on its way upstream to spawn but that didn't happen. I did spook one larger size
brown that I failed to spot beforehand. That one shot out from under a bank though.

I was curious as to whether or not any had were actually on their redds but I didn't
spot any brown trout holding on redds; however, I only stopped to look at three areas
along the 441 highway. I feel fairly sure some have started to spawn.

By the way, don't misunderstand my intent. I will not try to catch one that's spawning. I
also stopped at a couple of places on Walkers Camp Prong where I did spot some
brook trout that were spawning. I didn't fish Walkers, just looked at the water from two
pull off areas. I found spawning brook trout along Walkers a few days ago as well.

The strategy I'm suggesting for this week and under the stream and weather
conditions we currently have remains about the same as it has been. The only
difference you may notice is that you should see an increase in the hatch activity.
That doesn't mean you should see some big hatches. You won't. It also doesn't mean
that because they aren't large hatches they aren't important because they are

Start with a BWO nymph and change flies only when you spot something hatching.
Match whatever you see hatching but most likely, it will be one of the BWOs. The
emergers are more difficult to see and fish, but by far more productive under these
conditions  if you fish them correctly. I didn't see but one trout take a fly from the
surface. I'm sure you'll get action on the BWO dun imitation but again, I'm providing
strategy for what I think will result in the most success in terms of quantity of fish
caught. Near sunset and under low light conditions, check the water for spinners and
change flies if you find any of them. You also may find some hatching and egg laying
Fall caddis at that time. In the higher elevations, the same thing applies to the Little
Needle stoneflies and Little Yellow Quills.

Before I started fishing I spotted a very few BWOs and for that reason, I tied on an
BWO emerger. I fished at two different places along the highway for about two hours
total time. I didn't see another angler on the middle or upper sections of the
Oconaluftee. I did spot a couple of vehicles that could of belonged to anglers on the
Tennessee side of the park. This is normal for this time of the year but it always
amazes me. It's a beautiful time to fish and it's usually a very rewarding time of the
year to fish.

The skies will remain clear through Wednesday but showers are likely Thursday. They
are showing a 70 percent chance of rain at this time. Lows should be in the mid
thirties and highs in the seventies. I don't know how conditions could be much better.

I'm going to fish Little River before the week's over. It takes me almost two hours of
time (that I'm short of right now) to fish the North Carolina side of the park but I always
enjoy doing so.  I also want to fish the lower part of Little Pigeon River in the
Sugarland area. That's a good choice for rainbows at this time of the year. There's no
doubt in my mind about the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon. It would be a great
choice for numbers of rainbows. You should be able to catch plenty of brook trout
anywhere they exist. If you want to search for large browns, there's also plenty of
options. In fact, I can't think of any place in the park that isn't in prime shape right now.

Copyright 2011 James Marsh