November Fly Fishing in the Smokies

The month of November is one of the top five or six months for fly fishing the
streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That may come as a surprise to
many of you. Many anglers have already put their gear up until next Spring thinking
the better fly fishing is over for the year. If you consider the entire nation your back
yard, the majority of the better fly fishing is over. Most state fishing seasons for
trout are over. There are only a few places you could legally fish for trout in the
United States. Other than the deep south, the Southwestern U.S., is the only area I
can think of off hand that has some fly fishing for trout opportunities.

The weather this time of year in the Smokies is normally great. At the current time,
the forest is still beautiful and the lower elevations are not far past their peak. Most
of the leaf lookers have gone. They always get here too early and they always
leave too early.

The upper elevations have already lost most of their leaves. We have already had
a snow in the higher elevations. The mountains were white above about 3000 feet
for a day this past week. The water temperatures have dropped to the point that fly
fishing has picked up in the lower elevation streams with lows in the high forties and
an average in the range that most consider perfect.

I laughed at one blog i noticed that said it would be best to wait until the middle of
the day so the water temperatures could warm up some. That was a day or so ago
when the water temperatures were in the high forties early in the morning. We didn't
wait on anything to happen. We went for a couple of hours in the park at about 9:00
AM and caught one trout right after the other. We fished the upper Little River near
Elkmont near the campground and managed a mixture of small browns and
rainbows.  We caught over a dozen trout and were home before noon.

We started with our
"Perfect Fly" Blue-winged olive nymph, hook size 18, and
changed to the dun before we left. The trout took both flies (the nymph and the dry
fly) readily. We did not see any mayflies or other aquatic insects but we knew that
would be what would hatch if anything did. We did not see anyone else fishing.

My point is that fishing when the water temperature is in the high forties and low
fifties is fine. In fact, that is very close to what would be considered a very good
temperature range for trout. Water temperature is only a part of the controlling
elements that affect the activity and feeding habits of trout. Its like this - if the water
temperature is too low or too high, (in the thirties or in the seventies) the odds of
catching fish are low, but if the water temperature is perfect, (in the fifties and low
sixties) that doesn't mean you are going to catch a single fish.

The trout don't get cold or warm. Their blood is about the same temperature as the
water. The are not uncomfortable in cold or warm water. Unlike many anglers think,
they don't get down on the bottom in cold water to stay warm. Their metabolism is
low and they tend to get out of the fast water where they expend little energy but
they could care less about the water temperature. They don't go where the sun hits
the water because it is warmer there. If the water is moving, it doesn't make any
difference in the temperature and if it is not moving you are fishing in the wrong
place. Light from the sun may affect their whereabout, but not the water
temperature. That is a product of an angler's imagination which is usually huge.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh