Fishing Cold Water in the Great Smoky Mountains - Blue-winged
Olives - Part Twelve

Yesterday, I went of course to inject the Yellowstone articles on the Blue-winged
Olives before I had finished with the spinners. They can be an important part of the
hatch during the cold months of the year because they fall spent earlier during the
day than they normally do. I would say the
baetis, or full hook size 18, BWO
spinners would normally start falling in the afternoons about the time the hatch for
the current day has ended. About the only consistent thing that we have noticed is
that they do not fall during the coldest parts of the day, meaning early or very late
in the day. I have found spinners on the water at the same time the duns were
hatching. When I say "found" keep in mind that you are not normally going to be
able to spot the spinners on the surface with the naked eye. You would also have a
very difficult time seeing any trout eat them from the surface because they just sip
them in without making a splashy rise. They are very difficult to see, especially if the
sky is overcast and the light is low. I find them using a small skim net that fits over
my landing net. By just placing it in the water and holding in one position half in and
half out of the water, you will collect anything floating downstream on the surface.

Many of the male insects do not fall in the water. This is especially true if the wind is
blowing very much. That fact, plus the fact that the hatches are not very prolific
during the winter months, account for the normal sparse numbers of spinners. The
size of the hatch and spinner falls can be deceptive. My guess is that it doesn't take
a lot of insects falling in the water this time of year for the trout to notice them. At
least there is not much of anything else in the way of hatches with the exception of
midges and winter stoneflies.

The other problem is the fact the BWOs deposit their eggs by touching their
abdomens on the surface, crawling down rocks and boulders and diving to the
bottom. You don't know whether or not to fish a dry spinner pattern, or wet fly. My
suggestion is that if you know there is a hatch of them occurring and you have
fished the nymph and emerger imitations without success (or maybe you were
successful and the hatch ended), try the dry and wet spinner patterns.  

The spinners fall in the same water they hatch in but will collect at the end of the
current seams in the slow water. Fish the wet spinner pattern in the current seams
and the dry fly spinner at the end of the current seams in the slow water. Our
success with spinner falls of BWOs during cold weather has been mixed. Most of
the time, is hasn't worked but occasionally it has worked. I would try it and if it didn't
work in a short time, I would go back to fishing a nymph.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh