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 57
Continuing from the previous article.....I was also aware that the problem wasn't
unique to the streams of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was common to
similar type streams anywhere we fished for trout. If I was going to be able to
consistently catch trout, anywhere I fished for them, in any type of water I fished for
them, it was going to get down to the same basic fundamentals  required to
consistently catch most any other species of fresh or saltwater fish. The only
difference I could detect, was that the food the trout ate came from a much larger
variety and far more species than other game fish. Another problem was that trout,
like many other fish, ate a lot of small items as opposed to a few larger items of food.
I knew from watching people from some small, undeveloped countries from around
the World open the stomachs of marlin that some big fish ate very small items of
food. The stomachs of the average size marlin ranging from two-hundred to
five-hundred pounds from different areas of the Western Hemisphere were usually
full of small squid, that averaged about four to six inches long. When I put things
into proportion, it didn't take me long to determine that a ten pound trout full of
midge pupae was comparable to marlin full of small squid. Elephants do eat

The big problem for me and most all trout anglers is that most of the food eaten by
trout is tiny. Studying the tiny aquatic insects reminded me of electricity. Its a difficult
subject for many for one and only one reason. You can't see electricity. When
anglers start learning something about aquatic insects that are as small as
Blue-winged Olives and Midges (the two single most categories of insects
consumed by trout), things quickly becomes vague for most of them. These tiny
insects are like germs. You can't see them. I doubt if trout can see germs, but from
an inch to six inches away, they can see a tiny BWO better than a human. They
have excellent close up vision.

The other problem I discovered, was that for some reason, most anglers that fish
the streams of the Smokies think their waters are unique and that the trout eat
differently from trout found elsewhere. They are quick to point out that trout in the
Smokies eat opportunistically. Well, I suppose they do. Fish biologist are quick to
point out all fish eat opportunistically. By definition, they are correct. That gives
many anglers a reason to use that description as their excuse for knowing little
about the food the trout eat. They are very quick to exclaim that Instead of the trout
eating much of any one thing, the trout in the Smokies eat any and everything that
comes along. They claim that there isn't ever enough of any one insect or other
food item for the trout to eat, so the trout will eat just about anything they can grab.
Every self proclaimed expert on fishing the Smokies including most of the anglers
that are quick to state that they have been fishing the streams for fifty years, the
authors of the three or four books written about fishing the Smokies; and every fly
shop salesman from around the Smokies are most all quick to hand out that same
line of
Baloney. I'll discuss the subject in detail later, but for now just let me say that
the streams of Great Smoky Mountains (all of which are headwater streams) have
as much or more food for the trout to eat as the headwater streams in the Western
United States.

Many of the same anglers react entirely different when the aquatic insects are large
enough to see them well. When the new season starts out each year and the Quill
Gordon mayflies are starting to hatch, the same people all become expert
entomologist. In that case, they're dealing with a mayfly large enough to see well
and the results is, they go nuts over the hatch. Typically, most anglers will fish
about two weeks before the hatch actually starts, during which time they will
completely ignore the trout eating the Little Black Caddisflies that are hatching. The
same thing happens when the Little Yellow Stonefies start hatching. They suddenly
become hatch matchers again. Even so, I would guess that as many as half of the
hatch matching anglers are completely unaware the nymphs crawl out of the water
and hatch on the banks.

Although we heard over and over how different the trout in the Smokies were from
those in the rest of the nation, it didn't take me very long to find out that trout in the
same type and size of streams in the West were no different than the ones in the
Smokies. In fact, I learned that the fish in the Western headwater streams have  
less to eat than the ones in the Smokies. They have fewer species to select from
and usually a smaller quantity of any one species of them to eat.
The bottom line
to this is that It took me another year to discover that the claims anglers
made about the feeding habits of the trout in the streams of the Smokies
was nothing more than a good excuse for their not taking the time to learn
very much about what the trout in their streams did eat.

These false contentions are easy to accept because wherever you fish for the small
trout in the headwater streams during the times conditions are great, you can
usually catch plenty of trout on attractor flies, or flies that kinda, sorta, look like real
insects. If you toss one of them in the fast water where the trout get only a quick
glimpse of the fly and I don't care if the trout are in Nova Scotia, they will often
mistake the fly for the real thing and eat it. That compounds the problem. Catching
trout easily on attractor flies when conditions are great gives anglers the impression
that they know all they need to know about the subject. When the same anglers fail
to catch trout, such as in the scenario I gave in the previous article, they are quick
to blame it on the moon, the barometer, or the almanac.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh