08/22/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives (Little Eastern BWOs)
2.    Mahogany Duns
3.    Little Yellow Quills (
Heptagenia Group)
4.    Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Slate Drakes
7.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8.    Grasshoppers
9.    Ants (includes Flying Ants)
10.  Beetles
11.  Craneflies


Mayflies On The Little Pigeon River:
Late in the afternoon, Angie likes to take Biddie (our child dog) down to the Little
Pigeon River so she (Biddie, not Angie) can harass the ducks and geese and get
some exercise (Biddle and Angie). She (Angie, not Biddie) likes to bring me back
mayflies she catches along the walkway along the river. Last week it was a Little
Green Stonefly, which should have stopped hatching in the park and even sooner in
the warmer water outside the park, but obviously that didn't happen in the Little
Pigeon River. A few days before that is was a Yellow Drake, a beautiful large mayfly
that exist mostly in water too warm for trout in this part of the country. Yesterday
afternoon, it was a Slate Drake mayfly.

At first, I didn't recognize the Slate Drake because of the very dim light in my office
and because it appeared too small for a Slate Drake. Later, it occurred to me that
they are smaller in the late season than they are in the beginning of their long hatch
period. Except for their cream colored legs they are very dark. The wings are a very
dark slate color and the body a dark mahogany. It was still alive and trying to escape
the container she had it in. I tried to keep it alive last night so it would change into a
spinner, but it didn't make it. I did think about the cloud cover we had most of the day
and when there's clouds, the Slate Drakes sometimes hatch throughout the day. The
only problem is they are never very plentiful at any one time. Another problem is they
crawl out of the water to hatch. The nymphs will crawl upon rocks and emerge into
duns. The duns won't return to the water until they change into spinners, usually the
following day. Just before dark the spinners mate and fall on the water and that's
when the trout eat them. It's also when they become far more concentrated.

This is a whole lot of writing about little except to say, there are more mayflies that
hatch in the late, hot summer than one might expect. If you don't believe it, check out
the lights along the rivers at night. If you don't know what your looking at, they will just
look like a lot of bugs around the lights. If you catch some with a net or your hands,
you will find many are aquatic insects the fish eat. There are few lights in the park, but
if you check the ones just outside of the park along the streams, you will see what i
mean. You will almost always see dozens, if not hundreds of mayflies, caddisflies and
stoneflies. Wait between one and two months from now and you will find even more.
They are attracted to the lights.

Little Yellow Quill Duns
Are you not sure what a Little Yellow Quill looks like? All you have to do to see plenty
of them is go to a mid to upper elevation fast water stream in the Smokies this coming
month or during October. They will be flying around the streams and in the trees and
Rhododendron most afternoons. You probably want see any drifting on the surface
unless it's later on in the year when the weather has cooled down. As I previously
wrote, I think that's because they hatch during the evenings when the weather is still
warm.

They are beautiful, yellow mayflies that look somewhat like Light Cahills. That's what
most anglers that see them probably think they are. That's not all bad because both
mayflies are clingers and both of them inhabit the same type of water with one
exception that I've yet to figure out. The Light Cahills will hatch at all elevations in the
park and the Little Yellow Quills don't seem to hatch in the lower elevations. It very
well may be it's because I don't start fishing the lower elevations until November and I
just don't see them when they hatch.

I am repeating what I wrote a couple of years ago, but it hasn't seemed to change, so I
will post it again:
"We have caught plenty of rainbows and brook trout in the park on
our "Perfect Fly" imitation of the dun but early in the hatch, I'm not sure whether the
trout took the fly for a spinner attempting to deposit her eggs (before they fall spent
into the water), or a dun that just hatched. The spinners fly just over the water and
sometimes lite on the water for a short time when they are depositing their eggs. I
tend to think that's the behavior we were imitating when we caught fish on a dun
pattern early in the season. When the weather turns cool, near the end of the hatch
period, the hatches will increase in terms of quantities of flies and the duns can be
spotted drifting at the ends of the riffles and runs."


























"Perfect Fly" Little Yellow Quill Dun

Copyright 2011 James Marsh