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
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
The Learning Process - Part 61
I will never forget the first time I got a very good look at a large brown trout in the
Smokies. It was from one of the many high vantage points along Little River road in
October several years ago. At first glance, it just looked far too big to be real. I
actually didn't think it was real when I first saw it. I thought it was something that just
looked like a large trout - until it moved. Then a very funny feeling shot through my
body. The brown looked more like a large grouper. I couldn't believe what I saw.
The fish was just too big to be in Little River. Up until then, I had spooked a lot of
large brown trout, and done so in some streams far smaller than Little River, but not
really looked at one for a few minutes. When you get a flash of a fish, it is much
different than just being able to stare one down for a few minutes. You know the fish
is large but you don't have the time to actually determine just how large. In the case
above, I looked at the trout for about three minutes before I was positive it was real.
Of course I didn't know how large the trout was. I just know it was well over twenty
inches. I really think it much larger than that but I will never know for sure.
That was the first time I became interested in catching one of the large browns. Up
until then, I just laughed about guys taking about big brown trout. I had heard big
fish stories all my life and had progressed beyond the big fish thing years before
that. There just wasn't any part of my body or mind that cared anything about trying
to catch a big brown trout. When I saw the fish I have been writing about above, it
turned me back into a kid again.
For the next few days, I would take a trip up to the same area of Little River and
search the water for other trout but I always returned right back to that same
location not far above Metcalf Bottoms. The very next time I went there, instead of
trying to spot the trout from the high banks, I went downstream below it, parked and
walked back upstream a long way to get into position to catch it. Now I knew it was
the beginning of the spawning season when the browns move upstream and
common sense told me the fish didn't live there, it was just on its way upstream. I
had caught plenty of them in other locations doing just that and was well aware of
what takes place. It was just something that I was doing because I was just
determined to go against common sense and make the trout still be there, beside
the same boulder.
I worked my way into position to make a cast and then a lady's voice scared the
heck out of me. She said "do you mind if we take you picture". I looked up on the
road above me and there stood two older people (I still call people no older than
me, old) being nice and politely asking about taking my picture, instead of just
taking it like any young person would probably have done. I just said, "go ahead, I
don't mind at all". I never made a cast. I just climbed the bank and walked back
down to my vehicle.
The very next day, I did the same thing, except I rushed upstream to get into
position. There is a long single lane parking area just above the point I saw the fish
and I didn't want others pulling up and doing the same thing again. When I got close
enough to cast to the boulder, I placed the large streamer in the perfect position
and let the current do the rest. After doing that about ten times, I crawled up the
high bank and walked back down to my vehicle.
The third day and for the next several days, I couldn't help but stop there and
sneak up trying to see the large brown trout again. One or two of those days, a car
was parked there and someone would have already spooked any large trout below.
The other days, there was just nothing there. All I could do was search other areas.
After searching the water for a few minutes each day, I would get bored and start
fishing, usually with a dry fly. I would throw the streamer blindly a few times and then
change back to the dry fly. Within a few days, I completely lost interest in searching
for the big browns. I didn't enjoy casting a large streamer much either. I had much
rather watch my dry fly. The kid in me slowly went away and I was back to normal.
I didn't think much of it again until the following Spring. I realized I was getting a lot
of footage (a word us video guys carried over from the film days meaning video) of
dry fly fishing in the Smokies, and not very much of me nymph or streamer fishing.
Most of the time those thoughts came around, I would just think to myself that I
would do that the following day. I always could find a way to put it off.
The following year after the big fish sighting, I managed to blow my chances of
catching a large brown on a dry fly. This time it was in the campground area of
Bradley Fork. It was during March and still cold weather. Angie was running camera
and I was fishing a dry fly in the campground area that is usually covered up with
people. I had the stream to myself. About the second or third cast I made to a
beautiful lie against the opposite bank from where I entered the water, a large
brown smashed the fly as soon as it hit the water. It ran directly towards me and
almost over my feet. When it saw me, it went into high gear upstream. I realized that
if I added any pressure to the drag, or allowed the fish to just keep running, I would
loose it. Instead of that, within the short time the event took place, I decided to run
upstream after it. The only problem was the water ahead of me. It wasn't six inches
deep like the water I was standing in. Three of four big steps and I was waist deep.
The line went slack. That is still the largest brown I have hooked in the Smokies on
a dry fly. Continued (and I really will get into the techniques)
Copyright 2009 James Marsh