East Prong of Little River (Little River) Journal:

Finally, Some Water (7/25/07):

Angie and I decided to try the Little River yesterday. With the rain we have had
lately, we figured the river may come back alive. We were not wrong.
Thinking fishing would be much better later in the day, we arrived at 4:00 PM on  
a stretch of water not far below the Elkmont turnoff.
Starting that late in the day may not have been a smart decision. The trout were
very active and taking the dry fly when we first started. This may have been
occurring much earlier in the day than we expected. It did not get any better the
later we stayed. It may have even slowed down, just the opposite of what we
would have anticipated. However, I'm not one to take such a small amount of
data as that and form an opinion, but when you have nothing else to go by, we
all tend to do just that. So I will rephrase that and say that at least in our limited
time, fishing seemed to be the best when we first started but remained very good
until well late in the day.
The water was not high. In fact it was still low but it was rolling along much better
than we had seen it in a long time. There was a slight and I mean slight, stain in
the water. You could tell it was fresh water from recent rain.
Fish were strung out in the lanes feeding from the ends of the long runs all the
way up to almost the white water. We fished our "Perfect Fly", size 18
Blue-winged olive pattern we have tied in Kenya.
Angie started out (with me on camera) and caught a 8 or 9 inch rainbow. Then a
few minutes later, she lost a very large one. I was able to get some footage of it
jumping. This type of action occurred at each long run we fished. One larger
brown, maybe 12-14 inches was also lost by her within the first hour. She didn't
have a good catch ratio for the number of takes she got. Why, we don't know. I
noticed nothing different or wrong with what she was doing. Sometimes, you just
loose the fish. I always assume they were not hooked well, meaning just a touch
of skin was hooked rather than the solid hookup we all desire.
However, the action was so fast, she did manage to land several. I haven't
logged the tape yet but my guess would be a dozen or more. She lost four that
were hooked in addition to that. Only one landed was a brown trout and of
course the others were rainbows. A couple of the rainbows were over ten inches
- one close to 12.
Now, this is not bad fishing for the end of the month of July. In fact, it is good
fishing.
The Little Blue-winged olives were hatching big time. These are about a hook
size 22-24. You could see large groups of spinners dancing just above our
heads looking for mates. We also noticed some larger Eastern Blue-winged olive
spinners and duns, so we stuck with the size 18 fly. The color is not exactly right
for the larger Eastern BWOs but it is close enough.
The color is not the most important thing anyway, not when compared to size
and shape. I read in the blogs where anglers say to use a yellow fly all the time. I
hardly ever read where they mention the size of the fly, much less what it is they
are supposed to be imitating. Size is the most important factor with the shape of
the fly running second. Color can be important but if the other two factors are
off, then it the color not important at all.
It is always better to fish an imitation of something the trout are used to seeing
even if they are not feeding selectively or only one insect.
It was very cloudy and thunderstorms were nearby most of the time we fished. By
the way, she never gave up the rod, so I did not fish at all. The BWOs, Little
BWOs and the larger Eastern BWOs, always hatch much better under those
conditions.
This July day was unusual altogether. The high temperature for the day was only
about 80 degrees, or well below average.
In addition, I saw some larger Slate Drakes or Isonychia bicolor some local
anglers call Mahogany Duns but only a half dozen or so and never over one at a
time. These actually hatch all summer long but it usually slows to a slow drag in
intensity during the hottest part of the summer. Only the spinners (or nymphs)
are important anyway. They hatch out of the water.
By the way, the water temperature was 63 degrees F. Not bad at all for July at
this elevation. Rain and the cool night had made a big difference.
Here is the lesson you can take from this. When it has been hot and dry for a
long time and it rains a quit a bit, check the water. Give it a day to settle things
down (or at least a few hours depending on the amount of rain) and then,
provided the water temperature is below 70 degrees, give it a try. The rain water
usually adds oxygen, terrestrial food from the banks, and in general, perks
things up. The fishing action usually increases making it easier for you to catch
fish.
Now I don't like to give the impression that you should only fish when things are
easy. That takes a lot of the challenge out of it and for me, a lot of the fun. If the
water temperatures are low enough to not hurt the fish, try it anyway. If you can
fool the fish during the times when they are not very active, you may be doing
things right and on your way to learning more about the fish you pursue. If you
can't, then you have got a long way to go.
One final thought. If any of us ever begin to think we have it all figured out, my
advise is to stop fishing and start praying, asking for forgiveness for our
stupidity.   

Copyright 2007 James Marsh