Tips for Fishing Cold Water in the Smokies During the Winter

For purposes of defining cold, we are referring to water temperatures between 40 and 50
degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Slow and small are the two key words. Use smaller flies than you normally would.
Slow down the presentation of your flies.

2. The trout want hold in fast moving water. Fish areas of water that is moving slow
or where it is not moving at all. This means areas behind boulders and rocks, pools,
deep areas of the stream, or any other area of water that is not moving fast.  

3. The trout want move a great distance to eat. Place your flies in front of their nose.

4. There are three important types of hatches that occur during the winter months
in cold water: Midges, Blue-winged Olive mayflies and Winter Stoneflies.

5. Fish during the middle of the day when the water is most likely a little warmer
than it would be early and late in the day.

6. Fish sub-surface flies unless you observe trout feeding on the surface: Nymphs
and Larvae imitations as opposed to dry flies or adult imitations

7. Don't just fish on the best weather days. Cloudy, snowy, rainy and bad weather
days (low pressure systems) are great for larger Blue-winged Olive hatches and the

8. Avoid wading when possible. Wading can be dangerous, especially if you are
fishing alone. Fish from the bank when you can.  If you do wade, be extremely
careful and keep your wading belt tight.

9. Cold water is extremely clear. Use longer and lighter leaders and tippets than
normal. Stay well hidden.

10. Generally, the water in sections of streams in the lower elevations will be
warmer than sections of streams in the high elevations.

11. In the first part of the winter and late fall months, avoid fishing for brown and
brook trout that are in the process of spawning.

12. Don't sit at home dreaming about fishing - go. Trout love cold water and the
fishing can be very good during the winer months.

13. Upper Abrams Creek is fed by a lot of small springs and is generally warmer
than other streams in the park during cold weather.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh