Stream Journal
The Drought

I received two emails yesterday where concern was expressed on the fishing
outlook for this season. Both were a direct result of my article under the new
"Hatches Made Easy" section.
I am not much of a writer. I can provide the information but putting it in good form
is sometimes a problem for me. When I used to write on a regular basis for a
couple of national saltwater fishing magazines, it drastically increased the
workload for their editors. They didn't know what editing was untill I started
In the article regarding the status of aquatic insect populations I stated that the
populations of some species of aquatic insects had been reduced considerably
by the drought situation that occurred last year. I also stated that the population
of some species of aquatic insects (those that prefer warmer water) increased.
I think maybe some anglers took what I stated to mean there would result in less
trout. Certainly there will be less food for them to eat, but this doesn't
necessarily mean that the smaller population of aquatic insects will reduce the
trout population. I don't think it will. Fish are not the only thing that rely on the
aquatic insects for food. For example, some stonefly nymphs eat smaller mayfly
nymphs. Damsel and Dragon flies eat the adults along with birds.
The main reason the aquatic insect population is down is the fact that much of
the stream bottom was dry during the worst part of the drought. Some of the
larva and nymphs are able to move with the falling water and some are not able
to do that, at least fast enough to survive. Also, some of the clinger nymphs that
require a lot of oxygen obviously didn't make it.
I have no idea what effect the drought had on the trout population other than
what the fisheries people report. I have no way of determining that. For me or
any angler to base opinions regarding fish populations based on the results of
fishing trips would be just that - an opinion and one that quite frankly, is quite
I think the main results of what I did observe pertaining to insects is that we will
see hatches with less insects than normal. As I stated in the article, that too is
difficult to determine when you are observing the grown flies. Hatches can be
condensed into shorter periods of time with lots of bugs in the air or strung out
over a long period of time with few insects.
The point of this article is to say that  
I don't think the shortage of some
species of aquatic insects will result in trout population changes
. I think
it will have little, if any, effect.
In fact, I don't think anglers will even notice the changes in the trout population.
Most of the streams have a high population of trout. If the population was half
the normal amount, I doubt it would affect the numbers of trout caught very
much. Angie and I have fished several days in the park since the drought and so
we cannot tell any difference in terms of the numbers of fish we
have caught.
The drought affected the streams at the lower elevations more than the streams
at higher elevations. We also noted that the drought seemed to have affected
the Little River drainage more than the others. The North Carolina side of the
park was not affected as much as the Tennessee side.
What all of us need to be concerned with is improving our fishing techniques and
strategies. That will improve our catch a lot more than the number of fish in the

Copyright 2008 James Marsh