02/23/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Little Brown Stoneflies
4.    Quill Gordons
5.    Blue Quills
6.    Little Black Caddis

I didn't have the time or opportunity to fish any yesterday, but I did drive in the park,
take the water temperature in a few places and check a few locations for hatches. I
also looked at some Blue Quill nymphs. I didn't have Angie with me to help with my
net to be able to catch any Quill Gordon nymphs, so I was unable to check their
status. The Blue Quill nymphs I caught were not about to open their wing pads
anytime soon, meaning within the next day or two. That was in the general area of
Metcalf Bottoms and along the road to Elkmont. I did see a couple of Little Brown
Stoneflies. I didn't see anyone fishing although I did spot a couple of vehicles that
may have belonged to anglers.

The water temperature there at both places was forty-six. It was only forty-four at
the lower part of the Little Pigeon River. This was at the warmest time of the day
yesterday between 2:00 and 3:00. There could have been some hatches going on
in the lower ends of the Middle Prong of Little River, which is at a much lower
elevation, but I doubt they have started to any appreciable extent. My guess is,
things will be happening sometimes next week and maybe in the lowest elevations
before this week ends. Streams on the North Carolina side of the park at about the
same elevations, should be in the same general condition.

Quill Gordon Spinners
The Quill Gordon spinner fall is totally overlooked by everyone I know that fishes the
Smokies. Of course, there's a lot of guys that simply don't know what a spinner fall
is. I'm sure there are some anglers that fish it, but I have yet to as much as even
hear anyone mention it.

Other than just a general lack of knowledge about it, there's also problems with the
time restrictions on the fishing hours in the park. When and if you happen to catch
the spinner fall before the park requires you to stop fishing, you can usually catch
more trout within the short time period it occurs than it's possible to do during a
hatch. If the skies are clear, the fall usually occurs rather late, after the sun has
gone over the horizon or behind a mountain and just before it begins to get dark. If
you are lucky and the skies are cloudy enough to block the sun, the spinner fall
usually occurs earlier in the afternoon, or about the time the sun would normally be
setting or maybe even earlier. The entire event usually won't last but about thirty or
forty minutes.
The other problem with it is that if you don't know what to look
for, you wouldn't even know it was occurring.

You may see some of the spinners flying around prior to the time they fall on the
water, but many anglers wouldn't know the difference in the duns and the spinners.
The male and female spinners will congregate together above the water in swarms
before mating and falling to the water. The males first show up and then the females
will join them. The males fall first, as soon as they mate. The females will fly back to
the trees and bushes for a short time before depositing their eggs. Sometimes you
can see the females touching the water during the egg laying process, but it strictly
depends on the light conditions.

There will sometimes be a Blue Quill spinner fall going on at the same time.
Chances are, if the hatch has been going on for a couple of days, and it's late in the
afternoon, the larger mayflies would be Quill Gordon spinners. The difference is the
Quill Gordons will congregate over and fall in the faster water of the runs and riffles
and the Blue Quill spinners will be around the banks and the ends and edges of the
pools where the water is slower and smoother.

If you don't look up and catch the Quill Gordon spinners situated in some light, you
wouldn't even notice them. They are usually anywhere from just over your head to
as high as twenty or thirty feet in the air. When they do fall on the water, they are
almost impossible to see. They float with their wings spent, or spread out flat, with
part of their bodies submerged. If you see them falling, which takes place within just
a very few minutes, you would know the water would be covered with them. If not,
the only way to know there are spinners on the water is to skim the surface of the
water with a small net. I use one that is attached to my landing net handle. It folds up
into a very small pocket but lets out to cover the net. You just hold it half way in the
water in the current and if there are spinners on the water, you will catch them. They
are difficult to see in low light conditions even when you have them in the net.

The trout don't crash them like they do when they feed on the duns. You want hear
trout feeding on the spinners. In fact, the trout are very difficult to notice when they
are eating them right before your eyes in the low light conditions. They just sip the
spinner in. There's no hurry on the part of the trout to get them. They obviously
know they can't escape. If you can catch some light on the water, you can
sometimes see the rise rings provided the water is fairly slick. It's usually easier to
see the trout feeding on the Blue Quills because they fall on the slower, smoother
water.

The Quill Gordon spinners will eventually collect in eddies and the tail ends of pools,
but the trout may be eating them prior to that. If you happen to catch the Quill
Gordon spinner fall and it takes place within the legal fishing hours, you can catch
trout very easily and usually very fast. We have caught as many as a dozen trout
within forty-five minutes, but most of the time that would be the exception, not the
rule. In fact, most of the time you want even be able to legally fish the spinner fall
due to the park's fishing hour restrictions. I don't like the rule one bit, but I will not
criticize them for trying to make sure it's safe for people. Fishing the streams in the
park after dark creates a certain degree of a safety hazard.

Below is an image of a Quill Gordon spinner. As you can see, its wings are clear or
transparent. You can't see the ends of the tails but they are almost twice as long as
what you do see. You should also notice the abdomen and thorax area is a dark
brown, almost a rusty brown. More on this tomorrow. I have much better images of
these spinners that I will try to locate. This is a still freeze frame taken off of my
mayfly DVD. Notice the note that mentions the spinner fall can occur early AM or
late PM. The early AM situations would be when bad weather is occurring late in the
day. They will avoid trying to congregate to mate in bad weather situations and
delay it sometimes until the early morning the following day. This most often occurs
in the Northeastern and New England states. It could occur in the Smokies when
bad thunderstorms, heavy rain, etc., occurs in the late afternoons.


























Down and Dirty  (some are clean) Tips and Recommendations for Fly
Fishing Destinations - Part 26
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.

Beaverhead River Montana
The Beaverhead River tailwater below Clarke Canyon Reservoir is a very fine brown
trout fishery. Although there are some rainbows in the stream, most of the trout are
brown trout. They average a very large size. This rather small stream is loaded with
aquatic insects and crustaceans as well as plenty of sculpin and other small fish for
the trout to eat. Springs help keep the water quality high. We have seen some huge
hatches of mayflies on this river.

As you can read in the attached
Perfect Fly section, there's two major parts to the
tailwater - above and below Barretts Diversion Dam. Check out the pictures on the
other pages of this section. Wading is usually fine below the diversion dam but
difficult above it. If there's any disadvantage to fishing this river, its the amount of
cover along its banks. They are lined just about solid with bushes and trees. This is
an added benefit for the brown trout because it provides shade and cover. It also
makes your presentations of flies more difficult. The upper part is usually fished
from a drift boat. There's few places you can wade or fish from the bank above the
diversion dam.  

You will usually find several guides with clients in boats and plenty of other anglers
with drift boats on the river during the prime season. This is due to only one reason.
The fishing opportunities are very good. I could mention some other minor problems
by being picky but anyway you want to go about it, you have to rate the Beaverhead
River a very good trout stream. The water levels can vary and should be always be
checked. The water is used for agricultural purposes and that can have a big affect
on the stream conditions. Even so, it's an "A" grade stream in my book. There's few
other places you can consistently catch several large wild brown trout in a day of
fishing. .

Copyright 2011 James Marsh