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 75
I hope you have been following this series at least since October 8, because I don't
think this article will make a lot of sense to you if you haven't read the previous

Continuing on, about the end of the third year, It was obvious I had to learn all
about the food the trout ate to improve my fishing. We had fished many streams
other than those in the Smokies and we often had a difficult time catching trout on
some of them. Occasionally, someone would ask me how I did. When I answered  
truthfully with little to tell, I would hear the same thing echoed. They would always
say they were having the same problem. If we were not doing very well, they usually
responded that they were not catching many trout. That seemed to be fine with
them, but it always bothered me. If I was going to make instructional fly fishing
DVDs, I was going to have to learn to be able to catch trout on a consistent basis
when the fishing was "poor", as the average guy would put it.  I knew I couldn't use
that for an excuse for lack of success anymore than I had been able to for the
previous twenty years before that particular time several years ago. During the five
years I did my TV Series; the four years I fished the professional BASS circuit; and
the eleven years I had fished various saltwater tournaments and produced 46
instructional fishing videos, I had to catch fish on a consistent basis irregardless of
the conditions.
If I had of just said the fishing was poor, or lousy, I would
have been out of business years before I started trout fishing.

I had learned years before that being able to consistently catch fish, irregardless of
the conditions, was what made someone a good angler. Not being able to catch fish
bothers me to the point I usually can't sleep trying to figure out what I did wrong and
what I should have been doing. I know that seems over bearing to many of you and
I certainly can understand why. I'm not trying to imply anyone else should feel that
way. I am just trying to explain how I look at fishing.
I don't expect everyone to
have the same initiative, willpower and passion for fishing that I have had
my entire life
. I have always done the exact same thing and felt the exact same
way when i didn't succeed in catching fish. It has never been satisfactory to me to
say "fishing was poor today". The simple reason for that is that I knew it wasn't the
conditions or the fish, it was me not knowing how to handle it. I am not saying that
you should always catch a lot of fish. I am saying that you should always be able to
catch at least some when the average or mediocre angler doesn't, or you are
haven't progressed beyond that level. I am also not saying that even the best of the
best, want have a bad day every once in a while.  

The first trip we made to the West and Main Branches of the Delaware River, which
is by far the best tailwater in the Eastern U. S., we fished the first day there during
the month of May without catching a trout until it was almost dark. I finally caught a
12 inch brown trout. I was very upset because I had seen at least four or five other
nice trout caught that day and I knew that was just a few of what was caught. We
fished the Parachute Adams and Hare's Ear Nymphs we usually did at the time.

There were a few hatches taking place, but nothing major. I just noticed a few bugs.
There were usually more than that on the streams of the Smokies. The second day,
we caught some of the bugs with our net, and I captured a few nymphs in my kick
net. We sorted them out that night in our motel room and I began to try to identify
them with pictures and info in some books I brought along. I though I knew what
they were, but I wasn't really sure. I became very frustrated and made my mind up
that I wouldn't stop until I had learned all about every last one of the tiny flies. I was
already thinking about doing that, and had already purchased some of the
equipment I needed to do it. We took two of the nymphs we found that were very
plentiful (I know now as a Gray Winged Yellow Quill and a March Brown) and
matched them up the closest nymphs we had in our fly box. We only found two flies
(same Gray Winged Yellow Quills and March Browns) and we matched them up the
best we could in size and color to dry flies, but I didn't know then or remember now
which flies we actually selected.

The next day I fished those four flies starting with the nymphs. I caught 6 trout that
day, four of which was 16 inches or better. One rainbow almost touched 18 inches.
One brown was over 16 inches. By the way, the Gray Winged Yellow Quill is almost
the same mayfly as a Quill Gordon which had already finished hatching. It is a
clinger nymph and hatches under the surface just like the Quill Gordon. The March
Brown turned out to be the spinner, but I didn't know that at the time. In fact, I didn't
even know what a spinner was. We just found a fly that looked fairly similar to it. It
had clear molted wings and a rust colored body. I caught 3 trout on one of the
nymphs, and 3 on the two dry flies. I felt much better but I knew I also had some
help with Mr. Luck that day. I wasn't able to put anything together that was

We stayed there four more days, but fished the Main Stem (Bid D) of the Delaware
one day and only caught one rainbow. It was a good 16 inches or larger trout but
that is all we had to show for a day of fishing a great trout stream. That section was
an entirely different type of water from the West Branch. By the way, the trout in the
West Branch and Main Stem are all wild trout. The rainbows in the both sections
average 16 to 18 inches. The browns probably average close to that. We spent the
other three days on some other Catskill streams - the Beaverkill, some small brook
trout tributaries and a day on the East Branch of the Delaware. I was not able to do
any better than I did the second day on the West Branch. I was not a happy person.

This type of frustration went on at many other places. When we fished a stocked
stream, we caught plenty of trout on our Parachute Adams and Hares Ear Nymphs.
We could usually do that even if we were fishing slow to moderate, smooth flowing
water. When we fished fast water with a broken surface, pocket water with riffles
and runs, etc., we usually caught a decent number of wild trout on the P. Adams
and Hares Ear Nymph.

On the way back from the Delaware River we stopped in Pennsylvania to fish the
first spring creek we ever fished. Angie caught two trout and I didn't catch the first
one. She caught two small rainbows in a short riffle, the only riffle we found in a
distance of at least three miles on the stream. We just looked at and cast at the
other big trout that were quite easy to see. They usually just looked back at us like
we were complete idiots, and considering we were fishing the flies we were fishing,
that were probably correct in thinking that.

Sometimes they would swim towards the P. Adams or Hares Ear nymph like they
were going to eat it, but slow down about a foot away and turn to go back to where
they came from. I crawled on my knees and hid the best I could, but I couldn't
manage to catch a trout. I was frustrated big time. The Hare's Ear Nymph and
Parachute Adams were completely worthless. I knew Angie's rainbows only hit the
Parachute Adams because they were in the fast water of the one little riffle we
found were the stream dropped about a foot in elevation. The next morning we went
back to the same stream and she caught four out of the same riffle on the same fly,
but the largest was only 12 inches. We had seen at least 20 trout over 18 inches
and probably a hundred trout or more larger than those she caught. That
afternoon, crawling on my belly, I caught a 16 inch brown trout on a scud. I had
caught hundreds of real scuds the day before in my kick net. We went to a local fly
shop and purchased some flies that matched them. I was too embarrassed to let
anyone that I didn't know what they were. I just called them little shrimp when I was
talking to Angie. I looked through the shop's fly boxes and found a fly that looked
exactly like the same thing. The fly shop guy said, "those scuds work better later on
in the year, have you tried such and such". I don't remember how I responded to

When we fished the Smokies, on that same trip on our way back to Florida, we
again caught several trout. We stayed in Townsend and fished three days catching
plenty of trout each day. It was becoming fairly clear to me that the Parachute
Adams and Hare's Ear Nymph sometimes worked great in the fast water, but not in
the slow to moderate water where the fish could get a good look at them. They
worked great in the stocked streams, but so did just about anything else. What
worried me was that they often didn't work in the Smokies in the pocket water. I
wondered what to do in the Smokies and other fast water streams when they didn't
take the Parachute Adams or Hare's Ear Nymph. That was always when the locals
were saying that fishing was off or slow. I also wondered what to do about all the
moderate flowing, smooth water streams like the Delaware River we just fished. I
looked at the spring creeks as being completely out of the question using the flies
and the methods of fishing I had learned. I had just beat my brains out only to catch
one 16 inch brown trout in a stream that was full of them.

I had also tested the same flies in some of the slow moving water in the park. I
noticed that we could find plenty of trout in the pools but that they would do about
the same thing the trout in the spring creek did. They may look at the flies when we
first used cast them and then turn away from them, but after that, they wouldn't
even go to that much trouble. They just ignored the flies altogether. It was obvious
they didn't take them for a real nymph (the Hares Ear) or a real mayfly (the
Parachute Adams). When I had asked about fishing the pools earlier during our first
year or so, I was told to ignore the pools. I wondered how anglers fished streams
like the Beaverkill, which is about 90% pools. I knew something wasn't right. I had
been down that same road before bass fishing and with just about every species of
saltwater fish that exist. I also knew exactly what the problem was.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh