Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Mahogany Duns
3.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
4.   Little Yellow Stoneflies
5.   Slate Drakes
6.   Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
7.   Little Yellow Quills
8.   Needle Stoneflies
9.   Beetles
10. Grasshoppers
11. Ants
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
14. Helligramite
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

The Learning Process - Part 56
This continues with what I was writing about yesterday in part 55.

When the situation I described happens to most anglers, they just switch to the
nymph and continue to fish the same water they fished with the dry fly. Some make
a different and usually very bad choice. They change streams and continue to do
the same thing. That is fine if their objective is to only catch trout on the dry fly.
However, if they just want to catch trout, they would be far better off fishing a
nymph. If the first stream they selected to fish was a good trout stream, and most of
them in the Smokies are, then the second stream they choose probably wouldn't be
any different.

I would guess that as many as seventy-five percent or more of those that chose to
change to the nymph, would use either a large dry fly with a nymph as a dropper, or
they fish the nymph with a strike indicator. That means they would be fishing the
particular fly they selected at a certain preset depth. They wouldn't have any
control over the depth of the fly once it hits the water.

As mentioned yesterday, the trout didn't abandon the stream. They were still in the
same creek. They just weren't rising to the surface to take a dry fly for the first three
hours in the scenario I presented. The angler would be assuming the trout were in
the same riffles and runs they fished with the dry fly. Typically, the angler would
follows the same pattern but with the fly at a preset depth rather than on the

When trout are feeding subsurface, which they do most all the time, they are
usually feeding at a certain depth and in a certain type of water. Fishing a nymph at
a preset depth is usually hit or miss, mostly miss, because the fly is only covering a
very small percentage of the water column. Most of the time the trout feed right on
the bottom. It isn't often they feed suspended in the water column unless theres a
lot of food in the drift. If thats happening, its usually because a certain hatch is
occurring. Most of the time they would be feeding on the bottom. It is difficult to
keep a fly on an uneven bottom, which is most often the case, at a preset depth.

Exactly where trout are feeding on the bottom depends on a lot of things. First and
foremost, it depends on
where the most food is available to them. Second only
to that, the trout will select the
most desirable holding and feeding zones from
which they can acquire that food
. If you are not aware as to what the easiest to
acquire food is, and you cannot determine exactly where in the water the trout are
most likely holding to eat that food, then you are limited to trial and error. You are
strictly guessing. If you don't vary the weight of the fly, or weight you have added to
the tippet, and you don't vary the depths to search out all the possible places the
trout could be holding, then you could easily fish for a long time unsucessfully.

When you are fishing the surface with the dry fly, you are fishing in a two
dimensional area. When you are fishing the nymph, you are fishing in a three
dimensional volume. You may wisely make the assumption that you should fish the
fly near or on the bottom, rather than mid=depths, but you are still confronted with a
three dimensional world.
You have a much larger area to search than you do
with the dry fly.

What I have described so far, is the situation most anglers find themselves in when
they are fishing the small streams of the Smokies. That is where Angie and I found
ourselves after the second year of fishing the streams in the Smokies. A little
baffled, I tried to apply that same situation to other types of fishing where I had
considerable experience.

When I applied it to deep sea fishing, I realized quickly that I would just be wasting
time trying to search out fish that were not feeding on the surface. The ocean is a
big place. I realized that if I didn't know what congregated the fish in a certain area,
or exactly what the fish I was pursuing were feeding on, then I would just be wasting
time. Even if I knew what the fish were feeding on, it wouldn't do any good unless I
also knew where that food would be found.
In other words, I would need to
have a good knowledge of what the particular species of fish ate at the
particular time and place I was fishing and where they would find that food.

When I compared it to freshwater bass fishing, I realized that I had the same
problem. If bass could be holding anywhere from two or three feet deep in shallow
water along the banks, to thirty feed deep in water a long way from the banks, I
would have very low odds of catching any. In other words,
I would need to know
what the bass in the particular lake ate at the particular time I was fishing,
and where they could be acquire that food.

In both cases, the saltwater and bass examples, a person usually has a little extra
help. Even if they have only a limited knowledge of the fish, at least they have their
fishfinders that can help them find structure that would hold the fish, and in some
cases, help them find the fish themselves. However, if they didn't have a good
knowledge of the particular species of fish they were after and the particular food
the fish would most likely be eating,  they would be relying on pure blind luck even
though they were armed with a fishfinder.

In other words, when I was confronted with the same fly fishing for trout scenario
that I painted above, I quickly realized that I would need to know a lot about the
particular species of trout (brook, brown and rainbow), and the food (mayflies,
caddisflies, midges, stoneflies, crustaceans, baitfish, etc.) they would most likely be

Well, as a matter of fact, I was confronted with that same scenario.
I found myself
just changing flies and fishing the main lines of drifts searching blindly for
When conditions were great, meaning the water temperature, levels,
weather, clarity, etc., were favorable, we usually caught trout. Sometimes we caught
a lot of them. Sometimes we only caught a few. The problem was, the conditions
were not always favorable. Even when they were, like everyone else, we also found
that there were times the trout still didn't respond.
The only difference in me and
most other anglers, is that I knew very well what my problem was.
I knew I
didn't know enough about the trout, or the food they were most likely eating, to help
me pinpoint their location and how to go about fooling them into taking a fly I was
using for what they were eating.


Continued tomorrow.................

Copyright 2009 James Marsh