05/31/11
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.    LIght Cahills
6.    Little Short-horned Sedges
7.    American March Browns
8.    Eastern Pale Evening Duns
9.    Sulphurs
10.  Little Yellow Stoneflies
11.  Giant Black Stoneflies
12.  Golden Stoneflies
13.  Slate Drakes
14.  Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
15.  Inch Worms

Current Weather and Stream Conditions In the Smokies
The weather forecast for the Smokies is about the same as it is for much of the
eastern part of the country - hot. Temperatures are reaching the low nineties each
day in Gatlinburg and much of the park. There was a small chance of a shower and
thunderstorm last night but I think we were in the 80% area it wasn't supposed to
rain in. They are giving another 20% chance for rain for today. The odds of it
raining gets a little better tomorrow when a weak cold front approaches the area.
The National Weather Service is mentioning that the chances are better for the
isolated thunderstorms in the high elevations. That's good news because that's
where we need rain the most but they do mention it could be severe with high winds
and hail. Campers and backpackers should be careful.

The water level situation isn't good. We seemed to have gone from plenty of wet
days with lots of rain to low amounts of rainfall in a very short time. The streams are
getting low and we are just now entering the warmest part of the year.

It just seems the weather patterns for the entire United States has been wild and
crazy, not even close to normal. Actually, the Smokies have done extremely well in
comparison to the weather across most of the nation. There have been horrible
killer storms, floods and in the West, huge amounts of snow and cold weather that
continues in some locations. There was even a winter storm warning issued for the
Rockies as late as just yesterday. Wait until it does get warm. Runoffs will be the
next big western event. All in all, the fishing conditions for the opening of the
season in most areas of the nation, hasn't been good. We have been very lucky.

I hear the complaints from guys across the nation every day. Just yesterday, a
customer told me he had been fly fishing on a serious basis for over fifty years and
so far, this is the worst year for fly fishing he has ever witnessed. He usually fishes
the Catskill area. Yesterday, he traveled over two-hundred miles from his home
area near the Delaware River to try to fish a tailwater he thought would be in good
shape. As it turned out, the predicted low to normal flows from the dam didn't take
place. The water was running too high and fast to fish from a drift boat, much less
wade. He waisted his time and trip. It's just a repeated story I'm hearing daily from
the West to the East coast in most all the locations there are trout streams except in
our area. The weather and stream conditions in the Smokies have been excellent
for months now. Let's just hope it rains and things remain closer to normal.

I have only been able to fish a few times during the last two weeks. The longest time
I have wet a fly in any single day is less than two hours, yet I have been successful
each time I've fished. More importantly, I haven't fished the same place and in most
cases, the same stream twice.

Dealing With The Low Water Conditions:
Fishing low water is a real problem for some guys. It does make it tougher to catch
trout but remember that as long as you can get around in it, high, fast water makes
it much easier to fool the trout. They simply don't have as much time to examine
your fly. It also makes it much easier to get by with poor presentations. In fast
moving pocket water, about all you have to concern yourself with is getting a good
drift. You can get away with much heavier leaders and tippets than you can in low,
slower moving water. Your cast can be short and do not have to be very accurate.
Fast water also makes it much easier to approach the trout without spooking them.
They can can't see you near as well as they can in lower, slower moving pocket
water. It's not so much that low, slow moving water is difficult to fish as it is high, fast
water is easy to fish. This is true irrespective of where you fish for trout, not just in
the Smokies.

Many anglers become spoiled by the easy fishing conditions that fast pocket water
provides. They don't have to worry near as much about how well their fly matches
what the trout are feeding on. The fast water makes the trout fairly easy to fool. You
can get away with using attractor and generic imitations even though they won't
provide the highest odds. When conditions change and the water levels drop below
normal, the "catching" slows down for them. In the freestone streams, in order to
have fast water, you need higher water levels. The two things go hand in hand.
When the water gets lower than normal, many anglers will begin to complain about
the fishing slacking off. You will begin to hear that the fishing is slow, and in very
low water conditions, they will probably label everything but the brook trout fishing
as poor.
In reality, it isn't the trout. It's the angler. The trout don't stop eating
because the water gets low and slower.
They would be far more accurate if
they labeled their fishing strategies and skills as poor
.

The bottom line to this is many anglers that follow the old, traditional methods of
fishing the streams of the Smokes that unfortunately, are still taught by many that
profess to be the experts, are spoiled by the normal easy fishing conditions the fast
pocket water provides. I'll even go a step farther and say in general, they have a lot
to learn about fly fishing for trout.

Beginning tomorrow, I will write about how you can deal with the slower moving
pocket water. Much of what I write about will be a repeat of things I have mentioned
before and probably more than once. The things you need to do to continue to
catch trout isn't exactly rocket science. Neither does it require the precision that
playing professional golf requires, for example, although I guess fly fishing can
certainly be refined to require an equally high level of skill. What it does require is
careful approaches, much better presentations using non-straight line cast, staying
hidden, using much lighter leaders and tippets, using better imitations of the
naturals and other things that are mostly just a matter of using common sense.

I will also get to the Slate Drakes, one of the most important mayflies in the Smokies
that are just now beginning to hatch in the lower to mid elevations.

2011 James Marsh