Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Blue-winged Ollives (Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
4. Blue Quills
5. Quill Gordons
6. Little Black Caddis (Brachycentrus)
7. Little Brown Stoneflies
Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - Part 32
As mentioned in last weeks strategy article, this week still looks like a great week for a fly fishing
trip to the Smokies. There is zero threat of cold weather all the way through the next week. The
only treat to great fishing conditions comes Friday night and that's to do with stream levels and
that threat is based on a long range weather forecast that I question. The previous sentence
makes it appear that I think I know more than the weather experts and that's certainly not the
case. It's my concern in the variation in the way the different weather sites show their information..
If you look at the National Weather forecast for Gatlinburg beyond today, you will see a good
chance of rain is predicted, going up to 80% for Wednesday and Wednesday night. That makes it
look like there's a chance the stream levels could become high and difficult to wade. In contrast,
AccuWeather says that will only be a half inch of rain.
Looking back at the National Weather forecast for Friday, Friday night and Saturday morning,
you will see a 70% chance of rain. That looks less threatening than the rain forecast for the
middle of the week forecast until you check AccuWeather. It shows 1.63 inches of rain will fall
Friday night. If that happens, the streams could be high and difficult to wade on Saturday. That
doesn't mean your weekend fishing would be ruined by any means. If just means you may need
to fish the small headwater streams less affected by high water, or pick and choose areas of the
streams with high water conditions. In other words, I'm chicken and tossing out my official
disclaimer for this weekend.
The temperature will remain great for the next several days. After the front passes Friday night to
Saturday morning, the nightly lows will only go down to about freezing which is normal and good
for this time of the year. If your planning a long trip from out of town to fish this weekend only, I
wouldn't make the final decision until later this week. If your planning on spending a few days
including the weekend, I highly recommend it. Multiple hatches will remain in full force and high
water for a day want destroy your odds of having a decent trip.
The good news for the next few days is that you should be able to catch a few trout even if you
do a few things wrong. If you use the best strategy for the particular time and place, you
should be able to catch a lot of trout. Other good news is the trout are as healthy as I have
seen them for the past dozen or more years. Stream samples may prove me wrong, but the size
of the fish seems to be larger than normal but that may be more coincidence than fact.
Unfortunately, I was out of town much of week before last, and I've only been able to fish twice for
a very short time this past week. The first trip was in the late morning when the water temperature
was only 44 degrees. Even so, I managed to catch three trout in less than an hour, including one
brown that would measure a good 14 inches. Those came from Little River on a Quill Gordon
nymph. The next short trip was on the Middle Prong of Little Pigeon, later in the afternoon
between the time any hatches and spinner falls may have occurred. The water was a warm 50
degrees but again, I only had time to fish for an hour. Even so, I managed to catch four rainbows
on a Blue Quill dun, one of which would probably measure a solid eleven inches. In other words, I
have not had (taken) the opportunity to fish a hatch in the past two weeks. I'm going to change
my priorities even if I have to sing the Brad Paisley "I'm Gonna Miss Her song". Of course, I'm only
Recommended Strategies: (almost identical to last week)
In a nutshell and from, a very basic standpoint, you should start out in the mornings fishing a
nymph and change to an emerger/pupa or a dun/adult dry fly pattern if and when you see
something hatching. Hatches should start taking place around 1:00 to 2:00 PM. Insects you see
before then hatched the day before. If you don't find anything hatching by 2:00 to 2:30, you
should quickly change locations. If your fishing the upper lower or middle elevations of the park,
that is highly unlikely. Most likely the problem will be choosing which of the insects hatching to
Later in the day, when the hatches subside, switch back to the morning pattern I suggested. From
about 4:30 PM to near 7:00 PM, watch closely for mayfly egg laying and spinner falls. If Little
Black Caddis were hatching earlier in the day, watch for the egg laying activity and fish an adult
imitation of them. If you find any Little Winter or early Brown stoneflies emerging (crawling out of
the water to hatch late in the day), by all means switch to the nymph imitation of them. The same
thing goes for egg laying stoneflies. If you see them in action, switch to an adult imitation of them.
The only problem in the above strategy is it doesn't take into consideration which of the insects to
imitate prior to your seeing something hatching and even then, if you find more than one insect
hatching (likely the case), it doesn't give an order of priority. I suggest just about the same
strategy provided last week with some modifications.
Mornings until early afternoon:
There's high odds of having plenty of Blue Quills, BWOs, and Quill Gordon mayfly nymphs; some
Little Brown Stoneflies and maybe some Little Winter Stoneflies nymphs remaining (late
afternoons) in the middle to lower elevations. There should also be plenty of Little Black Caddis
pupae in many areas of the larger streams. Of course, all of the above insects are always there
at this time of the season but I'm referring to what's available for the trout to eat, rather than
what's hiding under a rock.
If you know for a fact any of these bugs hatched within the previous day or two of the particular
time you are fishing, fish the nymph/larvae that imitates that particular species during the morning
and continue until you see something hatching.
If you know that more than one of them hatched, choose an imitation of the nymph or larva in this
priority - Blue Quill, Quill Gordon, Little Black Caddis, BWO and fish it up until you see something
hatching. I'm basing that on the quantities of the insects available to the trout to eat that most
likely exist due to the previous day's activity.
If you find Quill Gordons hatching, fish an imitation of the emerging dun, or the dun, in priority to
any of the other mayflies. The hatch is easier to fish than the Blue Quills or BWOs.
Next in line would be the Blue Quills. If they are hatching (and the QGs aren't) go with an emerger
or dun pattern.
Next in priority of mayflies, if hatching, would be BWOs.
Exception: If you find the Little Black Caddis hatching, fish an imitation of the pupa first and later
the adult. Fish these in priority to everything but the Quill Gordons. If the QG hatch isn't
substantial, I would still fish the Little Black Caddis hatch.
Late In The Day:
Late in the day, depending on which of the multiple hatches listed above you may happen to
have found, fish the spinner fall and/or egg laying activity as appropriate.
If none of the above insects have hatched, laying eggs or falling on the water, fish an imitation of
the Little Brown Stonefly nymphs (size 14). They will begin to crawl out of the water to hatch late
in the afternoon and if it's cloudy, a little earlier in the afternoon.
If conditions change, I may update this later on this week.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh