Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Green Sedges (Caddis)
3. Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Little Sister Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
5. Hendricksons and the Red Quills
6. LIght Cahills
7. Little Short-horned Sedges
8. American March Browns
9. Pale Evening Duns
10. Giant Black Stoneflies
11. Little Yellow Stoneflies
12. Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day
Giant Black Stoneflies (Salmonflies)
When anglers think of Salmonflies, they usually think of the large Western species
that exist in large quantities in many western streams and provide fantastic fishing
opportunities. Well, I have news for those who think salmonflies exist only in the
west. The entire family of Pteronarcyidae stoneflies are called Salmonflies.
The Pteronarcys genus of the Pteronarcyadie family, which includes all the species
of stoneflies in the family that exist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, are
also properly called Salmonflies. I usually add the common name "Giant Black"
Stoneflies because the nymphs of the three different species of these large
Salmonflies that exist in the park are all a very dark brown or black color. I also add
it to keep local anglers from thinking I've lost my mind thinking there are salmonflies
in the park.
There are three species that exist in the park; however, all but one is rare. The
scotti species has a slight reddish tint to it but it's fairly rare in the park. So is the
proteus species. Most all the Salmonflies, again of the Pteronarcys genus, are
Pteronarcys dorsata species. You would be hard pressed to find any Giant Blacks
that aren't this species.
Now, I am well aware that local anglers do not call these large stoneflies Salmonflies
even though they are often referred to as Salmonflies by the scientist. Also, I'm not
suggesting that we should call them Salmonflies. I mentioned this only because
occasionally, you will hear uninformed anglers mention there are Salmonflies in the
park. When they do, they usually think it's a rare species of the same group found
in the West. That's not the case. The Salmonflies that are abundant in the West are
the Pteronarcys californica species. They do not exist in the Eastern United States.
All of the above has little to do with anything, I just wanted to clear the confusion
often encountered relative to these large stoneflies. The stoneflies are the easiest
to understand of all the major four types of aquatic insects that trout feed on in the
park. The reason is all stoneflies, with a few rare exceptions, behave the same way.
The fishing methods that are most effective vary little.
Giant Black Stonefly (Pteronarcys dorsata) nymphs:
This is one of the larger items of food for trout that exist in the streams of the park.
There are far more of these present in the streams than most anglers think. Also,
they exist in streams so small that it's difficult to imagine such large creatures are
there. I love to grab one out from under a rock of a very small stream where kids
are playing in the water and show it to them. That ends the playing in the water.
Except to feed at night and to molt, these large nymphs rarely come out from under
the rocks. They are far more subject to being eaten when they hatch because they
have to leave their hiding places and crawl across the bottom of the streams and
out on either the bank of the stream or a large rock or boulder. The hatch period
can last from near the last part of April, all the way into the first week of June. It
depends on the temperature of the water and the elevation of the stream. By the
way, the adults can live for up to four weeks but it is usually only a week or two.
These stoneflies are nocturnal. They both hatch at night and lay their eggs at
night or under very low light conditions. The nymphs provide the best opportunity to
catch trout. Again, the best opportunity is during the hatch but trout eat them year
round, whenever they can catch one. Fishing an imitation of the nymph is a good
idea most anytime as long as it is very early in the day, or very late in the
afternoon, or very cloudy or overcast.
During the hatch, you should imitate the nymphs crawling across the streambed
bottom from the fast water to the banks. At other times, you want to imitate the
nymphs feeding on the bottom in the deepest, darkest holes you can find directly in
the fast water. Fast water is the big key. They have to have plenty of oxygen to
survive. High sticking a deep run using an imitation of the nymph is usually very
effective, especially if the lighting conditions are low.
2011 James Marsh
On your left in my hand is the real
thing, caught from a stream you can
easily jump across. Below is our
"Perfect Fly" imitation of the nymphs.
Our stonefly nymph imitations of all
nine families of stoneflies are so
realistic, they often scare an
unsuspecting person. The flies legs,
tail and antenna are very flexible. The
fly is weighted to help keep in down.
The thorax is dubbed and the wing
case made of turkey feathers. It's very
durable and outperforms any generic
stonefly imitation by leaps and bounds.