03/18/11
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


The Basics of Fly Fishing Series - Freestone Streams of the Smokies
Now that I've covered the different types of trout streams, I will focus on the streams
within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To set the stage for it, I will tell you
that during the past several years, there have been many occasions where a tourist
approached the area I was fishing and ask if there were really fish in the stream. I
always have an urge to be short with them and ask them what the heck they think I
am doing, but I usually hold back and try to explain the situation. Most of the
streams within the park are so small that such a reaction isn't really all that strange
for someone who doesn't fly fish small streams for trout. I think they really mean to
ask if I know for a fact there are fish in the stream, or if I'm just trying to find out.

One of the old bass pros I used to fish tournaments with, known for his shallow
water fishing tactics, used to put it like this. He would say that a foot of water could
cover up a very big bass. Similarly, I guess you could say that a small Smoky
Mountain stream can hide a very big trout. The streams within the park are small.

Only the lower ends of the major watersheds are large enough to give the average
person the appearance that they hold big fish. In many of those cases, the water
doesn't hold trout because it gets too warm during the hot summer months. For
example, the water below the Sinks, or overlook area where tourist view the waterfall
on Little River, becomes very marginal for trout during the low water conditions of a
hot Summer. The same thing is true of some of the larger streams on the North
Carolina side of the park.

If you took all of the streams within the park into consideration, and included the
entire length of water that holds trout (not including the lower ends of the streams
that doesn't), my guess is that when everything was averaged out, the width of the
streams would average less than twenty feet. I question if it would even average
that. It may average closer to fifteen feet. There's a few places in the some of the
larger streams that reach forty feet or more in width, but those areas are the
exception, not the normal width of the streams that hold trout.

Most all of the brook trout streams in the high elevations average smaller than
fifteen feet in width. These small, high elevation brook trout streams can hold a
good number of trout.
The point is, the small streams of the Smokies are
actually small.

I don't intend to get into casting at this point but it may have already dawned on you
that being able to cast a long way is something that's of very little importance. Even
our seniors that are forced to rely on their walking sticks are probably capable of
casting all the way across the average stream in the Smokies. Learning to cast
without hanging a tree limb is a much bigger challenge than obtaining enough
distance.























This is Little River far below Elkmont Campground, near the exit to Elkmont off the
main road. This is wider than the average stream in the Smokies. As you can see,
being able to cast a long way wasn't the problem. Casting while avoiding the limb
behind me was a much bigger challenge than obtaining enough distance. In this
case, a flip of my wrist, along with a short section of line shot from my left hand, was
enough to make a spur of the moment, self-created type of roll cast well enough to
send the fly as far as I needed to cast. I doubt you would find the cast illustrated in a
book. I probably went months without making another cast exactly like it. If you are
worried about being able to cast far enough to fish the Smokies, you can stop
worrying.

Not only is the width of the streams small, at times the discharge rate of flow of water
of the freestone streams look more like that of a water fountain in a shopping center
than a trout stream. At other times the same stream may appear to have Olympic
class rapids. The water levels and discharge rates vary greatly throughout the year.

There are times where you can clearly see much of the bottom of a stream. In fact, if
you have a rather high vantage point to overlook the stream from, you can often
see the entire bottom area of a stream. Unless you just happened to know better,
you may end up betting someone there wasn't a fish in the stream. Often, the trout
are lying in plain sight but you are unable to distinguish them from the bottom. More
often, they are hidden under a boulder, rock or in some cases, the banks. If you
happen to find yourself in this situation, meaning you have a good view of a stream
from a high vantage point, there's one thing you can be certain of. Every single
trout within the entire area you can see, has already seen you.



Down and Dirty  (some are clean) Tips and Recommendations for Fly
Fishing Destinations - Part 38
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.

Continued

2011 James Marsh