Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Little BWOs)
2. Mahogany Duns
3. Little Yellow Quills (Heptagenia Group)
4. Little Yellow Stoneflies
5. Needle Stoneflies
6. Slate Drakes
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
9. Ants (includes Flying Ants)
"New" Fly Fishing Strategy Series - What Fly To Use - Part 7
Remember: The key is to imitate the insects and or other food that's most
available and easiest for the trout to acquire.
If you haven't read the first parts of this series: What Fly To Use Part 1, What Fly To
Use Part 2 , What Fly To Use Part 3, What Fly To Use Part 4, What Fly To Use Part
5, and What Fly To Use Part 6, please do so because it will make the following much
For the next few days, the recent and continuing rain changes the overall strategy of
the methods that should be used for fishing and of course, doing that changes "what
fly to use". The controlling factors are water levels and even more importantly, the
water clarity. I drove down to check out the Little Pigeon River and as expected, it was
very high and muddy. The water inside the park will clear up much faster and isn't a
dingy as what I looked at near the spur because the stream flows through Gatlinburg
just outside the park. The runoff from the parking lots and streets of Gatlinburg
greatly effects the extent the water is stained or in this case, muddy would be a more
accurate description at the present tome. The rainfall we received so far is great and
just what we needed to help the low water situation. The rain will continue throughout
today but they are not expecting it to increase to the point it will flood.
The idea situation is to start fishing when the water is falling. This concentrates the
locations of the fish to the places the water is draining back into the normal
streambed. In this situation, the rivers are not out of the banks. I am strictly going by
the Oconaluftee and Cataloochee USGS data on the North Carolina side of the park. I
have not seen the streams since the rain. This isn't to say that you can't catch trout
when the water is rising, because you can. It's just that the falling water tends to
concentrate the trout where food is washing into the stream. Many different species of
terrestrial larvae that normally isn't in the water will be washed in by the heavy rain or
more particularly, where it drains into the streams.
If I wanted to fish today, I would definitely fish streamers that imitate baitfish or sculpin.
The stained water brings the larger brown trout out from their normal hiding places. In
cases where the water is draining back into the streams, one of the items of food to
wash into the water will be cranefly larvae. We have done well using out Perfect Fly
Cranefly larva fly under these high water conditions by fishing this fly in the areas of
water where it's draining back into the streams. The trout will normally concentrate on
these areas because the water draining into the streams provides a continuous
stream of food. I would not recommend this fly as long as the water is rising. I would
use streamers when the water is rising as well as when it's falling.
Fish in lakes will move to the banks when the water is rising and away from the banks
when the water is falling. Trout don't respond that way. They will continue to search
the banks for food that has gotten into the water because of the high water levels
even when it's falling.
The dingier the water, the brighter you want the fly to be. Yellow, chartreuse and white
are good colors to use in heavily stained water. The ideal situation is you want the fly
to standout enough in contrast with the water to be seen, but not seen well enough for
the fish to determine it's not something to eat. This situation changes constantly with
the clarity of the water and the light conditions. If it's cloudy or overcast or near dark
or daylight, there's a lot less visibility in the water. As the water clears, you want to
adjust the shades of color of the streamer accordingly.
This is difficult to describe in words, but i toss the streamer in the water near the bank
and observe just how well I can clearly see it. For example, if you can clearly see it
four feet deep, you probably need to use a less visible color of fly. If you can't see it in
two feet of water, it needs to be more visible. This isn't the exact view the fish will get,
but it gives you a quick idea of which way to adjust the contrast. Sometimes the water
will fool you. It can be clearer than it looks and of course, just the opposite at times.
Tannic acid (tea colored water from vegetation and leaves) can make the water clarity
very deceptive. It's always much clearer than it looks.
Both our yellow and white Perfect Fly Marabou Sculpin are good flies to use in high,
stained water. We also have several colors and sizes of Wooly buggers, Clousers,
and Zonkers that are priced very low. These are all good streamers to select from.
I normally will be writing this strategy article each Tuesday of each week for the next
year. In this case, the strategy will change as the water levels and clarity change, so I
will be updating it every couple of days or so. Right now, you need to take advantage
of the stained water and use streamers. The streams cannot be waded safely at this
time and probably not for at least the next couple of days or longer. That means
fishing from the banks and streamers is the best way to go.
Copyright 2011 James Marsh