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 Old "Fishing is Good, Fishing is Bad" Thing
The weather and water levels were excellent for fishing during the end of last week
and over the weekend. I was able to get in on some of the action a couple of times.
Last Friday, I missed the afternoon hatches but took full advantage of the spinner
falls. In addition to Blue Quills and Quill Gordons, the water was also covered with
Blue-winged Olive spinners. I spotted three or four Little Brown stoneflies that
appeared to be laying eggs.
It was cloudy and the spinners fell well before dark in decent numbers on Little
Pigeon River. I was able to catch ten rainbows in just over an hour of fishing with
about half of them coming in a very short time about as fast as I could catch and
release them. The fish were a little smaller than what I expected but one probably
exceeded eight inches.
Saturday, I got to the park much earlier and was able to catch some mayflies
hatching but they were rather sparse. I only spotted a couple of Quill Gordon duns
but there were a few Blue Quills. The skies were clear and it was windy. I only got to
fish about an hour and a half and was only able to catch five trout. I knew that if I
wanted much action I should be fishing nymphs but I just couldn't put the dry flies
up. This took place on the upper part of Little River near Elkmont. I had to leave
early to get back and help Angie finish filling fly orders.
According to the email I received over the weekend from two anglers that fished the
Smokies and one guy I talked to Saturday on the water, not everyone was able to
catch trout. This is not unusual, even when everything appears to be excellent. In
fact, it never fails that we wait on the water levels, water temperatures and
the weather to get just right for the Spring hatches and before you know it,
many start complaining that they are not catching as many trout as they
think they should be catching.
It gets downright ridiculous at the excuses some guys can come up with. Everyone,
wants to ignore the fact the problem could be the way they fished. I catch myself
falling into that category at times, even though I know better. I heard everything from
these three guys from the old "I was fishing behind someone" problem, to the
"barometer was rising", to the "the moon was full" excuse. I can't vouch for the
fishing behind someone thing but I can tell you as I told them, that neither the
barometer or the moon had anything to do with the trout feeding on the aquatic
insects. The moon and/or barometer may have had an effect on the times a large
brown trout may have fed but not the fishing in general and certainly not the trout
feeding on insects.
It gets back to the old "fishing is good" or "fishing is bad" thing.
The "fishing" is done by anglers. "Fishing" can be good or bad alright, but
that depends on the angler, not the fish.
It would be more accurate to say "my fishing was good today" or "my fishing was
bad" today. The fish don't eat one day and starve the next. They may not eat
the same thing in the same places from day to day and even from hour to hour and
in a nut shell, that's the big problem most everyone has.
Most likely, what happened to those who failed to catch as many trout as they
thought they should have caught, was they fished the same way they almost always
do. By that I mean they fished the fast water areas of the streams, using the
methods commonly used and commonly taught for fly fishing the Smokies. They
failed to catch the trout that were not feeding in the fast water.
In back and forth email correspondence, the best I could determine, those that
didn't catch many trout, didn't fish the calmer pockets and slow to moderate water
areas near the banks where the Blue Quills and BWOs hatch at all. One guy used a
dropper rig, which will sometimes work well when the fish are feeding in the fast
water, but won't work at all when they trout are feeding in the slack water areas of
the streams on hatching Blue Quills and BWOs.
I also noticed that I didn't see anyone fishing Friday when I fished the spinner fall
late that afternoon. My guess is everyone had already quit fishing or maybe they
just didn't choose to fish the Little Pigeon River.
If you are having problems catching trout in the Smokies now, or this past week or
weekend, you first need to get it out of your head that the quote "fishing wasn't
good". The trout didn't stop eating. It wasn't the fish that had anything to do with
your lack of success. To put it bluntly, it was "you're fishing" that was bad.
The Basics of Fly Fishing Series - Continued Tomorrow
2011 James Marsh