Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives and Little BWOs
2. Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
3. Cinnamon Caddis (Mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Little Short Horned Sedges
5. Eastern Green Drakes (Abrams Creek)
6. Hendricksons & Red Quills
7. American March Browns
8. Giant Stoneflies
9. Light Cahills
10. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Yellow Sally)
Most available/ Other types of available food:
11. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Fly To Use - Part 40
Do I need to write anything more? The answer is yes, the snow will make a little difference but
actually very little. Your looking at elevations ranging from about 3000 to 6000 feet. There will
probably be more snow fall at those elevations through tonight. I am predicting that because
there is a 20 percent chance of showers after noon today. The high will only be near 61 in
Gatlinburg. The real unsatisfactory deal for today is the wind. It will be between 10 and 20
mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Tonight showers are likely after 2am. The low will be
around 45 but of course that means it will be freezing or below in the high elevations. Chance
of precipitation is 60% for tonight and that's why I think there will be some more snow in the
Wednesday: showers are likely with a possible thunderstorm but the high will be near 74. The
odds stay at 60%. South wind around 5 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
The low for the night will only go down to 56 so that should end most of the snow in the high
Thursday: gets warmer with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. The high
should be near 78. Thursday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 58.
Friday gets even warmer with a high near 80. The chance of precipitation goes down to about
30 percent. Saturday's forecast is about the same - a 30 percent chance of showers and
thunderstorms with a high near 80. Sunday's forecast is very near the same.
The long range forecast can be amazingly accurate or right the opposite. Last weeks rain
predictions were bad off. Even when they lowered the chance of rain, they were bad off. On
the other hand, AccuWeather was able to hit the nail on the head with their long range
weather predictions as long as two and three weeks ago. They very accurately predicted this
cold spell. Yes, it's a blackberry winter. The blackberries are blooming in the woods behind
The melting show will lower water temperatures to some degree at least through Thursday.
Much depends on the rain that we get. It alters the water temperature just as well. The
problem is estimating just how much rain we get and from the current outlook that doesn't
appear to be excessive. The stream levels are in great shape and should remain that way.
The snow shouldn't bother anyone. The wind is far more of a factor today. The water
temperatures will come down but shouldn't affect anything much at all. As long as the
temps stay around 50 degrees or higher, it shouldn't be a factor at all. Far too much emphasis
is placed on water temperature by some anglers. Anything from 50 to 65 should be
considered excellent. Anything from 45 to 50 is okay as long as you adjust your techniques. If
you want to cast a dry fly all day in fast water with that temperature range you will probably
catch few trout, if any.
The lower temperatures won't affect those insects that are fully developed in their larval stage
They will continue to hatch. Those nearing being fully developed will be affected by the lower
water temperatures and delay their emergence. That's all good. The hatches have continued
to be a couple of weeks to as much as a month ahead of schedule. Hopefully the recent
cooler, more normal weather will help stabilize things. Mid April snow is common in the
Smokies in the high elevations. It happens about every year.
As it has been for the past few weeks, what is hatching will depend on the elevation even
more than it normally does. As you should almost always do, start out in the mornings fishing
a nymph or larva imitation and change to an emerger/pupa or a dun/adult dry fly pattern if
and when you see something hatching. Most hatches should start taking place around
1:00 to 4:00 PM and again, the hatches will depend greatly on the elevation of the stream
your fishing. Until about Friday, you will probably see a slow down in the numbers of fully
grown adult insects and hatching insects.
Later in the day, when the hatches subside, switch back to the morning pattern. Again, even
though the trout will continue to fall for a few dry flies, I am advising what to do based on your
highest odds of success, not necessarily not your highest odds of fun. From about 4:30 PM to
near 7:30 PM, watch closely for stonefly egg laying activity and mayfly and egg laying and
spinner falls. Fishing the spinner falls can result in the fastest action and most fish caught in a
short time span.
By fishing a nymph or dry fly, I don't mean just any nymph or any dry fly. I am referring to
nymphs and dry flies that specifically match the insects that I list below. This will increase
your odds of success over the "match anything" generic and attractor type of flies
that usually only produce mediocre success.
Later on in the week, from the mid elevations and up,there's still some odds of having some
size 18 Blue-winged Olive hatches. There may also be some Little BWOs hatching in the lower
and middle elevations. These would be hook size 20 or even smaller. Neither of these sizes of
BWOs will hatch in large numbers.
Hendrickson/Red Quills are about finished. Remember, they generally don't hatch in the
higher elevation, or where the stream gradients are steep..They are more of a pool and slack
water insect. If you happen to find them, they should be the top priority but the odds are
Little Short-horned Sedges are still hatching but they are concentrated but only in isolated
areas of the streams.
March Browns are still showing up and will continue to do so for some time, but remember that
they hatch a few here and there and throughout much of the day over a long period of time.
They are not usually concentrated at any one point in time or place. That doesn't mean they
aren't important insects to imitate. It just means that you cannot expect to see heavy hatches
taking place. If they are hatching, you can expect some rather heavy spinner falls to
occur near dark because the spinner falls are concentrated into a short time of usually less
than an hour. A March Brown Dun imitation would provide good odds in the afternoon. The
March Brown Spinner imitation would provide great odds very late in the day. Also keep in
mind, they probably won't be the only spinners that fall. Any other mayflies that hatched in the
same area will also fall.
Little Yellow Stonefly hatches are taking place in the mid to lower elevations. If you happen to
be at the right elevation at the right time of day (late afternoons) you will likely see some this
coming week. Remember, they both start to hatch (crawl out of the water) very late in the day
and deposit their eggs late in the day. Fish the nymph imitation starting around 4 PM and
switch to an adult only when you see egg laying activity which is usually late in the day.
I have added some other insects on the list above that may start hatching any day. The Green
Sedges (caddisflies); Giant Stoneflies and Light Cahills could start hatching this weekend,
especially in the lower elevations. I did see a few Light Cahills before the cold spell. Normally,
it would be a couple more weeks or more for them to start. I am strictly basing this on the
theory the hatches will continue to be early. It's even possible you will see some Eastern Pale
Evening Duns and Sulphurs (both called Sulphurs locally) show up. The first will be the EPEDs
and then the Sulphurs. Here again, these are insects that can hatch in good quantities but
only in very isolated sections of the mid to large size streams. If and when you encounter them
(and you may not) you should have a few imitations of them.
Which nymph/larva imitation to fish?
If you know for a fact any of the above insects hatched within the previous day or two of the
particular time you are fishing, fish the nymph or larva fly that imitates that particular species
during the mornings and continue to do so until you see it or another insect hatching.
If you know that more than one insect hatched, choose an imitation of the nymph or larva in
this priority - Hendrickson/RQ, BWO, March Brown, Light Cahill and fish it up until you see
something hatching. I'm basing this on the availability of the insects for the trout to eat that
most likely exist based on the previous day's activity.
Which Fly to use During Hatches?
If your lucky enough to find Hendricksons/RQ hatching, fish an imitation of the emerging dun,
or the dun, in priority to any of the other insects. That's not very likely. Next in priority are the
Little Short-horned Sedges. If they are hatching, fish an imitation of the pupa. Next in line
would be the March Browns or Light Cahills. I would go with the Cahills. The hatches are
easier to fish than the BWOs. If by chance you run into an early hatch of Eastern Pale
Evening Duns or Sulphurs, by all means fish it.
Which Fly to use Late In The Day:
Late in the day, depending on which of the hatches listed above you may happen to have
found, fish the spinner fall and/or egg laying activity as appropriate. By all means, if you a
spinner fall, fish it. A few March Browns will likely fall.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
All images are thumbnails: Click them to enlarge
View from the top of a hill near Pigeon Forge late yesterday afternoon
View from near our home in Pigeon Forge