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

The Learning Process - Part 71
I am often criticized for writing about aquatic insects in the Smokies to the point that
many anglers, especially those new to fly fishing for trout, don't really grasp what I
am writing. That's partly because I am not a good writer, and more so because any
details of aquatic insects are considered by many old timers to be of little
importance. I have often said, if it is a big insect, such as the Quill Gordons or
March Browns, they tend to pay it a lot of importance, simply because it is large
enough for them to see. This also comes from the fact that all of the streams
capable of producing wild, stream-born trout are headwater streams where trout  
feed mostly opportunistically. The very important overlooked point is that words
such as "selective and opportunistic" don't really define or describe what actually
takes place.
The trout will always eat the most abundant and readily
available food.

When aquatic insects are hatching, or about to hatch, they become much easier
prey for the trout to eat. To relate that specifically to the current time, as mentioned
yesterday, the three insects that are currently hatching, and will be hatching during
the next few weeks, are the Blue-winged Olives, Little Yellow Quills and Needle
Stoneflies. The
baetis Blue-winged Olives are swimmer nymphs that stay hidden
from the trout. The trout cannot catch them to eat very well until a week or two
before they begin to hatch. When they get ready to hatch, they expose themselves
in the calm to moderate water, meaning quite edges of the stream, pockets behind
boulders, etc., and when the time comes for their wings to pop out, they make one
or more attempts to swim to the surface to hatch into duns. When this happens, it is
easy for the trout to pick them off readily exposed as a nymph, in the water column
as emergers, and on the surface as duns trying to escape. The bottom line to this is
from about a week or two before they hatch until the hatch ends,
that is what you
should imitating. You should fish imitations of the nymphs until the hatch starts, then
switch to imitations of the emergers, or duns if you want to fish a dry fly.
You will
catch far more trout doing that in the right areas of the streams than you
will anything else.

If you are fishing anywhere from the mid to higher elevations in the park, then you
need to be aware of the Little Yellow Quills. They hatch throughout the park but are
much more plentiful in the higher elevation streams. These are clinger nymphs that
live down in between and under the rocks and pebbles on the bottom of the stream,
hidden from the trout until a week or two before they hatch. At that time the nymphs
expose themselves to the trout and
become easy prey. They hatch on the surface
like the BWOs and you need to use the same procedure I outlined above for them.
Fish imitations of their nymphs until the hatch starts around mid afternoon or later,
and then switch to an emerger or dun imitation of them.
If you are fishing in any
of these streams in the park, you will catch far more trout than you will on
an attractor fly or any other toy fly.

The little Needle Stoneflies are some different in that they hatch at night. They exist
mostly in the mid to higher elevations. Within a week or two before they start to
hatch, these clinger nymphs will crawl out from under the rocks and pebbles on the
bottom and directly expose themselves to the trout. They will crawl to the banks or
large boulders in the stream, and crawl out after dark to emerge into adults. You
should be fishing an imitation of their nymphs at least during the late afternoons,
provided the Little Yellow Quills are not producing more action. The female Needle
Stoneflies will deposit their eggs near dark.
You can catch trout as fast as you
can cast when this happens, but it only last an hour or less.

Now I just outlined a strategy that will out produce anything else you can do during
the next few weeks, with the exception of spotting migrating brown trout and fishing
to them, or fishing for them during times of high or stained water. That too, should
be considered if you are interested in targeting the larger brown trout.

I should also mention that the Great Autumn Brown Caddis (some call them October
caddis) will begin to show up soon but they hatch after dark and deposit their eggs
after dark. The pupae will be eaten during the afternoons but as of this time, I
haven't listed them as being important.

A few days ago I was at the huge old car show in Pigeon Forge looking at cars that I
owned and drove when I was in high school and college during the late fifties and
early sixties. I dearly love some of them, like the 57 Chev and the 61 Corvette. I
always want to purchase one to drive every once in awhile, but I al\way realize that
they would stay in the garage 99% of the time. After all, they are not the best
vehicles you could put on the road for day in and day out use this day in time. The
new cars are far more reliable transportation.

When it comes to fly fishing for trout in the Smokies, many anglers still fish using
flies that are no more effective than the old cars at the show. You can get in the old
cars and they will usually get you where you are going. You can tie on a Hare's Ear
Nymph, Royal Wulff, Orange Palmer or any other antique fly and still catch trout in
the Smokies. If you listen to three or four people that have written books about it, or
two or three fly shop salespeople that rarely, if ever fish, that is exactly what you will
find yourself doing. After all, there isn't anything wrong with it. A very nice North
Carolina gentleman let me drive his 57 Chev up the street the other day and I truly
enjoyed it. If you are interested in doing that, we have thousands of the old antique
trout flies for sale at .79 each including shipping cost.
Dries   Nymphs   Streamers

Copyright 2009 James Marsh