Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
4. Little Winter Stoneflies
New Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trout Food Series - Part 16
The Swimming Nymphs
The swimming nymphs get their name because they can actually swim to a certain
extent. They tend to dart around like minnows rather than swim long distances. This
enables them to quickly hide from their predators such as trout. They are always
found around some type of cover. This may be nothing more than cobble or rocks
with lots of cracks and crevices or it may be vegetation or objects in the water such
as logs, roots, piles of leaves or basically anything that provides a place to hide.
They are slim, longer shaped and well streamlined, not bulky or fat like most of the
crawler nymphs or flat like the clinger nymphs.
In the Smokies they consist mostly of various species of Blue-winged Olives and
Slate Drakes. I have previously expounded on the catch-all common name
Blue-winged Olive. There's many mayflies called BWOs and in fact, not all are of the
ones called BWOs are swimmers. Some are crawlers like the Eastern Blue-winged
olives (Drunella species) that I pointed out yesterday. In the Smokies you also have
the Small Eastern Blue-winged Olives (Attenella species) which are not swimmers.
The swimmers are mostly Baetis species and some Acentrella species called Little
Blue-winged Olives. I'm not trying to get technical. We will eventually go through the
various species of the insects. For now, I just want to point out that the BWOs
include some mayflies that are clingers and some that are crawlers. These
mayflies can range from a hook size 26 up to as large as a 14. Some hatch twice a
year. The other important swimmer nymphs are the Slate Drakes which are rather
large and also one of the most plentiful mayflies in the Smokies. These insects
hatch over a very long period of time and imitating them can be productive for a
long time. They look and act very different from most other nymphs.
You will sometimes see the BWOs in the water if you stay very still and keep a close
look; however, at your slightest movement, they will dart for cover. Trout eat far
more of these than the clingers but not as many in proportion as the crawler
nymphs because the swimmers can escape and hide better. When it gets within a
week or two of the time a certain species starts to hatch, they are eaten by the trout
about like we eat peanuts. The nymphs are fully exposed and available to the trout
and they can easily eat about all they want.
These nymph are found in and hatch from about the same type of water the crawler
nymphs except it's usually shallower. They do not live in fast water but they must
have moving water. Slow to moderate water that is generally shallower than that
used by the crawlers is preferred. They cannot live in still water. They cannot get
enough oxygen. Shallow pockets behind boulders, tail ends and edges of pools,
slow eddies, pockets along the banks and shallow flats are preferred. They will also
thrive in shallow, slower moving riffles. It depends on the species and there's
several species of them in the Smokies. There are several species of Baetis which
are bi-brooded nymphs, meaning they hatch twice a year.
Imitations of the swimmers don't necessarily have to be imitated on a dead drift.
They can be presented in short, quick movements, much like minnows dart around.
These should be fished in the shallow type places I described above but not heavily
weighted. It's best to use very light, longer leaders and tippets and make longer
cast. When they are hatching, or in the pre-hatch stage prior to a hatch, imitations
of them can produce a lot of trout if fished properly. You can often see trout dart
into the shallow water and take your fly. Keep in mind, neither the Baetis or the
Slate Drake nymphs look anything like the typical generic nymphs. Also keep
in mind the trout can see them very well because they are not found in fast moving
water. They get a good look at them in the slower, moderately flowing water they
hatch and live in.
Now we have covered the three types of nymphs found in the Smokies. Again, there
are a few burrowers mostly in Abrams Creek such as the Green Drakes but for all
practical purpose, the crawlers, clingers and swimmers are the ones you should be
most concerned with.
The next step is to determine a strategy for a particular time of the year. I will be
doing that as we go along as the hatches start. That will be in the very near future. It
will start warming up some today and continue for a least the next week or so. My
guess is the hatches will begin on schedule with the Quill Gordons and Blue Quills
starting around the first of March. Blue-winged Olives will also hatch but on a more
sporadic basis. We will begin looking at each of those species that will start hatching
very shortly. Meantime, I have a few more general points to make and I will do that
Down and Dirty (some are clean) Tips and Recommendations for Fly
Fishing Destinations -
Just keep in mind that it is strictly one opinion that happens to be mine. The intent is to hopefully
give those interested a general idea of what to expect. Most likely every guide, affiliated business
entity and local angler will have a different opinion. These streams also have full coverage on our
Perfect Fly Stream Section.
South Platte River Colorado
The South Platte River is a very diversified stream consisting mostly of tailwaters.
There are several tailwaters. The river has just about every type of water found in a
trout stream from slow, meandering open meadow streams to fast, pocket water
sections in rugged canyons. It all depends on which part of the river system you fish.
Rating the stream as a whole is also difficult because the fishing ranges from
excellent to poor, depending on exactly where you are talking about. There are
several very good areas. The state considers the following "Gold Metal Water". The
Middle Fork of the South Platte River downstream from U.S. Route 285 and the
South Fork of the South Platte River downstream from the outlet at Antero
Reservoir, and from the confluence of the Middle and South Forks of the South
Platte River downstream to the inlet of Spinney Mountain Reservoir. Also from the
outlet of Spinney Mountain Reservoir downstream to the inlet of Elevenmile Canyon
Reservoir. Also from Cheesman Reservoir Dam downstream to the confluence with
the North Fork of the South Platte River a distance of almost twenty miles.
I have fished all of these sections with various results. Anyway you want to look at it,
you have to give these areas of the South Platte River an "A" rating. Check out the
South Platte River.
Copyright 2011 James Marsh
Example: This is our Perfect Fly
Blue-winged Olive nymph. Side
view above and top side view to
is our Perfect
Fly Slate Drake