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 60
After about the second or third year of fishing the Smokies, there was something
else that bothered me. Even though I had learned to catch trout fairly consistently
or most of the time if conditions were good, I wasn't catching many large ones. I was
very familiar with the average, minimum and maximum sizes of all three species of
trout in the park. We had caught a few rainbows approaching twelve inches, browns
as large as fourteen inches, and some very large brook trout up to eleven inches

Now the thought just hit me that size as stated by many fisherman, isn't necessarily
set to any standards. Just the other day, I read in a fishing report that a guy lost a
22 inch brown trout. Now whoever that was is a genus. I wondered how he knew it
wasn't 22 and an eight inches long. Fishing bass and saltwater tournaments for
many years and having to quickly cull fish by size had taught me to be fairly
accurate but I have never been that accurate. I guess he could have had a tape
measure on it and all of a sudden, it escaped. My point here is that when I list a
certain size in this article, it was an actual measured size, not a guess.

Back to the article, what was bothering me at the time was not that I couldn't catch
rainbows or brook trout about as large as they grow in the park, it was the browns. I
had seen pictures of many large brown trout caught in the park. Now, granted, the
large ones made the local news when someone did catch one. I also didn't take
very long to discover, as expected, most of them were caught during the spawning
season. What bothered me was that during the second year we fished the Smokies,
I had produced
two videos featuring Ian Rutter, a local guide. These were shot in
two days of fishing, but  those days were not normal fishing days. Fishing with
someone moving a camera and tripod around slowed him down considerably. Also, I
wanted all three species in one video and that took moving to three very different
locations. In other words, he did a very good job of catching fish but under the
circumstances, he didn't catch any large brown trout. We focused on technique, not
quantities of fish. Ian was a little bothered with the fact there were no large browns
in the video and wanted to try at least a short time to get one. He set up to do just

In broad daylight, he rigged up specifically for that, waded into one of the deeper
holes on Little River and about ten minutes later, hooked a large brown trout. It took
off downstream in a heart beat stripping drag. He fought and chased it for a few
seconds and the fish won. He saw the trout. I didn't but I am positive it was no less
than what he said and that length I really have forgotten. I do remember, it was
large, certainly over eighteen inches. The video of him hooking and loosing the
large brown is in the video.That was enough to convenience me the large browns
can be caught; caught when they are not spawning; and even caught during the
daylight hours. Now years later, I realize that your odds of doing that are low. You
would probably spend more days trying to do just that without catching one, than
you would when you actually caught one.

Most of us don't want to spend hours trying to hook a large brown trout when other
size fish can be caught. I do on rare occasions, if that is the challenge I want to
accept, but most of the time, I fish a dry fly. No, I am not a dry fly purest, I just enjoy
it better than fishing nymphs and larvae below the surface. I've caught my fair share
of large fish. I had spend a month with a guy trying to set a new sailfish world record
in Costa Rica releasing fish and fish. I had spent a week trying to set a new
Amberjack World Record, etc. etc.. I have caught blue marlin (the hardest to find,
hook and catch fish in the World) over 500 pounds, 200 pound tuna, shark over
700 pounds, 80 pound wahoo, 60 pound king mackerel, 175 pound tarpon, 12
pound largemouth bass, 40 pound strippers and huge size fish of many other
species that I could go on and on about. I had even caught rainbow trout in Alaska,
on the fly, well over twenty inches that at the time was guesstimated at eight
pounds. What I had not done at the time was catch a brown trout over fourteen
inches in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you fish the normal ways to catch trout in the Smokies you want catch very many
over that size. In fact, if you fish a dry fly in the Smokies, you may catch a thousand
trout before you catch one brown trout over fourteen inches. As of today, I have yet
to catch one on a dry fly over fourteen inches (remember - measured, not
guesstimated). The reason is simple. The large brown trout are almost always
hidden under a rock or log and usually in deep water. They hide and ambush their
food which consist of other small fish and crayfish. They do this under very low light
conditions, meaning mostly after sunset or before sunrise and during the night.
They may roam around and feed when the water is high and off color, but that is
about the only exception, other than during the time they are in the process of
spawning. They don't feed on tiny insects on the surface during the day. They don't
need to. They can catch much larger prey below the surface under low light
conditions. One other quick reason is that the large brown trout, over 18 inches lets
say, are few and far between. They do exist in the streams but there are not many
of them. There is neither room or food for many of them.

I will go into some of the tactics, strategies and methods for catching large trout in
the Smokies tomorrow.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh