Fishing the South Holston Tailwater - BWOs - Part 3

The baetis Blue-winged Olives in the South Holston are probably bi-brooded. They
may even be tri-brooded. To know, one would have to fish there at least 2 or 3
weeks of each month for twelve months of the year or make an fairly extensive
study of samples taken through out the year. I am going by water temperatures and
the fact that it is common for
baetis to hatch two or three times a year depending on
the particular species of

Another thing to keep in mind is that the worse the weather is, the longer and more
intense the hatch will be. They love foul weather. Rainy, overcast and snowy days
are excellent days for
baetis to hatch. During those days, the mayflies will hatch
during the warmer part of the day.

If the hatch has not started, fish the blue-winged olive nymph. You should fish it in
the same type of water I described for the emergers. You may can fish it in the
shallow water without weight but you may want to add a small amount of weight or a
tiny split shot a few inches above the nymph.

Do not use a strike indicator. You can use a tandem rig if you like (a dry fly with the
nymph tied on a dropper) but you will catch a lot more fish if you can manage to fish
only the nymph and watch your line and leader to determine when a take occurs.
They hatch in relatively shallow water so you will spook far less fish using only the

You should not fish the BWO nymph imitations prior to a hatch dredging the bottom
or swinging the fly. If you did that you would either be fishing the wrong type of
water or you would be spooking the trout. They do not hatch in the fast water. You
fish the nymph almost the same way and in the same type of water you would fish
the emergers.

The easiest way to fish the blue-wing olive hatch is to fish upstream, casting your
flies up and slightly across. If you are fishing a small run, fish the slow water side of
the edges or current seams. If you are fishing pockets, fish the slow sides of the
seams on each side of the rock or rocks that create the pocket. You will find them
hatching in any area of the river where the water is moving slowly, even if it is very

In some cases you simply cannot reach the area you want to fish without spooking
the trout. The wind may be blowing downstream and fishing upstream with a long
leader would be difficult. In those cases you will need to fish downstream. Doing so
is not exactly easy but it will be easier than casting upstream and spook less fish.

The spinner fall can occur anytime in the afternoon depending on the weather and
the time of year the hatch occurs. Normally, during the fall hatch, the baetis
spinners will start falling not long after the hatch occurs. It may go on up until dark.
It is usually not very concentrated and for that reason it is not noticed by many
anglers. It will vary depending on the extent of the hatch. Again, foul weather days
will bring on a larger hatch and this will result in a larger spinner fall.

The egg laying females will most often dive to the bottom to paste their eggs on
rocks. I say most often because some species of
baetis do not do that, some only
do that and others do both.  When that happens the trout will not be taking the
spinners on the surface. You will need to use a wet fly for this activity. Only trial and
error will tell you what is going on.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh