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 81

I hope you have been following this series at least since October 8th, otherwise, this article won't
serve its purpose near as well.

The trip we took in March the Smokies that third year of fly fishing for trout,
convinced us that capturing and photographing the insects in the trout streams was
going to be a big help to us. At that time of the year, almost all of the stream's
aquatic insects are in their nymphal or larval stages of life, so it gave us a good
idea of the diversity and quantities of what was in the streams. It also showed us
why the common, accepted methods and techniques we had used during the past
two years of fishing the Quill Gordon and Blue Quill hatches, were often not

We knew that when the Quill Gordon hatch was fully underway and the water was in
the low fifties, that we could catch a good many trout using dry fly imitations of the
dun fished in the fast water of the runs and riffles. Even under ideal conditions, this
action only lasted for about an hour or two at the most. However, when conditions
were less than perfect, the water was bordering fifty degrees, the hatch was just
starting, or had been interrupted by cold spells of weather, that method of fishng
always failed. During that time anglers were saying things like fishing will be good in
another day or two, or the hatch hasn't started yet, or the water is still too cold, and
making similar excuses for their lack of success.  Discovering exactly where the
Quill Gordons congregate and hatch, revealed why that always happened and
resulted in us learning how to catch trout consistently using nymphs and wet flies
even under adverse conditions and even before the hatch got fully underway. We
also learned to fish the spinner falls that almost everyone else either ignored, were
unaware of, or just didn't know how to fish. All in all, it doubled or tripled our
success during that time of the year.

The same thing was true of the Blue Quills. We could swap from fishing the Quill
Gordon hatch when things subsided, to fishing the Blue Quill hatch and continue to
catch trout. Once we found exactly were and how the little mayflies hatched, we
understood why we only had limited success fishing dry fly imitations of the duns in
the fast water runs and riffles. We were able to consistently catch trout using
nymphs and emergers, fished in the right type of water. When the Quill Gordon
hatch had ended, we learned to catch trout consistently on imitations of all stages
of the Blue Quills, depending on the intensity of the hatch and the time of the day.
We had trouble catching a lot of trout focusing on the Blue Quills simply because
the fishing required a lot more precise presentations. I explained this in the previous
articles. However, we were often successful in catching several trout when everyone
else was catching very few. We spent a lot of our time with the insects that year. It
was the following season before we realized the full benefits of what we had
learned. We were catching twenty to forty trout in a full day of fishing, at times when
other were complaining about the conditions.

That particular year, or the year we started studying the insects in a big way, we
didn't fish the Smokies during April. It was late May before we returned. We fished
most of the entire month of April in Colorado. We returned to Florida a short time
and fished in Virgina for a week in early May. It was the middle of May when we
were on our way back to Florida from Virginia when we stopped in the Smokies the
next time. We had continued our studies of the insects in Colorado and Virginia, but
not in the Smokies. We found the conditions perfect in the Smokies. We were able
to catch trout just about anywhere we tried using Parachute Adams. I don't think we
ever tied on a nymph those three days we fished in the park. We didn't take any
images of insects during that time. We were worn out on that from Colorado and

What we learned in Colorado, turned out to be a huge help to us in discovering
something else the following year about the fishing during the early season in the
Smokies. I have written about this in the past, but I will try to put it into the time line
of our learning process. We had fished what is called the "Mothers Day Hatch" in
Colorado the third year. That is the number one hatch of the year on some
streams, especially the Arkansas River but we fished it on several other streams.
On the Arkansas River, anglers come from across the nation to fish the hatch in
April. It takes about three weeks for the hatch to move up the entire length of the
Arkansas River. We collected and photographed hundreds of insects, including the
Little Black Caddis, often called Grannom Caddis, in all stages of their life. These
are the same little chimney cased caddisflies that are quite plentiful in most all of
the streams in the park. They hatch in the Smokies in good numbers early in the
year when the water is reaching fifty degrees.  

Copyright 2009 James Marsh