08/28/11
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


Some More Basic Tips For Fishing During Low Water Conditions
Yesterday, I wrote about the problems in giving how-to, instructional advise on fishing.
Although I used instructional videos on fishing to illustrate my point, It really just
pointed out that's it's almost impossible to produce something that's informative and
interesting to everyone. The content, whether conveyed by video or in a written
format, needs to be near the same level of the viewers/readers knowledge of the
particular subject. The level of skill various anglers have in any particular subject
category of fishing varies tremendously. I always get a kick out of the marketing
captions that advertise instructional videos, books, schools, seminars, etc. The last
line is usually something like "For anglers of all skill levels", "Such and Such
information from A to Z", or "For novice as well as experienced anglers". Most of the
time, that's little more than hyperbole.  Anyway, I guess the following tips are for those
that know absolutely nothing to those that are Smoky Mountain Hall of Fame Anglers.

The number one problem in fishing low, clear water is staying hidden from
the trout
. If you let the fish see you, it's going to be next to impossible to get them to
eat your fly. There are only a few basic ways to go about doing this. I don't think the
park officials would let you build fishing blinds along the streams. Even if they did,
getting into one without the fish spotting you would still be difficult. Furthermore, you
couldn't cast a fly rod from an enclosed blind very well.

My article of day before yesterday pointed out that fish see everything outside the
water through a circular window the diameter of which is just over two times the depth
of the fish. It explained that the trout's vision of anglers near the edge of the window
are greatly distorted and blurred. If you are standing straight over the trout, it will have
a clear, undistorted view of you. Since a trout doesn't care if your a human, bear, blue
heron or a ghost, if you move you will spook the trout, even it views you twice as wide
as you are high. It's the movement of an angler that triggers the trout's reaction. The
boulders the trout are used to seeing, don't move. The trees move very little, if any.

In most cases, the only way you can approach them without being seen is to stay
below the lowest line of sight they have from their window of vision. Without getting
into the physics and math calculations, let me say that if your thirty feet from the trout
and standing level with the surface of the water, the trout can see any part of your
body over 5 feet, three inches high. If your wading waist deep, and the trout doesn't
see your legs or hear you underwater, only the portion of your body that's above the
surface counts. In the scenario just presented, the trout wouldn't be able to see you.

If you get within 15 feet of the trout you have to be below 2 feet, seven and
three-quarters inches in height. Most of us can't get that close because it's difficult to
get that low on our knees. Angie can, but I can't. If your wading, it becomes much
easier to stay below that height above the water but unless the trout is pointing in the
exact opposite direction or you, your getting very close to the point the trout will see
your legs below the water.

Other things affect the extent the trout can detect your presence. If you contrast very
much with the background view the trout has of you, you are far more noticeable to
the trout. If you blend in with the background view the trout gets of you, you are far
less noticeable. At this time of the year, when everything is green, you wouldn't want
to wear a white hat, or a bright yellow shirt. Actually, that wouldn't be smart even if
your were fishing in the winter months when everything is shades of gray. Dress the
same way you would if you were hunting. Camouflage clothing would be ideal
although you wouldn't make the cover of the next fly fishing magazine. On second
thought, maybe that would be different enough that you would. Magazines need all
the help they can get.

Oh, I almost forgot about casting. How do you keep your fly rod below those levels
during a cast? Even worse than being a still image the trout can see, the rod has to
move to make a cast. The solution to it is simple. Make a side armed cast.

There's an even better solution to the problem. Most of the streams in the Smokies
have boulders, many of which are large enough for you to hide behind. If the stream
has boulders, use them to your advantage and always plan your approach to where
you remain and end up behind one, out of the trout's view. Again, try to avoid
overhead cast.

Here's another tip many local anglers may snub their noses at but that would be very
helpful. Drive up to Pennsylvania and fish some of the many spring creeks. Avoid the
fast water riffles and runs. Fish the slow moving, clear meadow spring creeks. Once
you learn to catch the brown trout from those streams, you won't have any trouble
fishing low, clear water in the Smokies. By the way, its also a good way to learn just
when and how the trout can see you. You can actually see them when you spook
them. You will easily learn when your visible to the trout and when your not.

Many think the trout all gather up under the riffles where they are invisible to
overhead predators. Some may be in the riffles because there's more dissolved
oxygen available but that's usually where the water is very marginal, temperature
wise. If the water temperature is in the mid sixties or less, they won't be there for that
reason. If disturbed, the rainbows and brook trout will often flee and hide under the
riffles, or if certain insects are hatching in the riffles, they may be there to eat. The
larger brown trout will be hidden in their normal places, under rocks, boulders, banks,
etc., and rarely in the riffles.  

There's a lot more to fishing low, clear water than what I've written about so far. You
also have to conceal your fly line, leader and tippet. You should also be using more
realistic flies, especially where the water is flowing slower and with low water, it always
flows slower than normal.  I'll get into this tomorrow. If you fish the Smokies anytime in
the next few days, your odds of dealing with low, clear water are very high. If you
handle it right and if all the other variables are the same, you should be able to catch
just about as many trout under these low water conditions as you could at other water
levels.


Copyright 2011 James Marsh