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)
12. Great Brown Autumn Sedge
"New" Fly Fishing Strategies Series - What Fly To Use - Part 9
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, please do so. It will help make this article more meaningful.
First of all, the only change in the list of the insects that the trout have to eat is that I
added the Great Brown Autumn Sedge to the list. I have written about this caddisfly
during the past week. We show it on our hatch chart as starting to hatch by the first of
October but in previous years, it has appeared earlier than that on some streams.
Because of that, I added it to the list.
I did take the time to check some stream and hatch conditions out yesterday. I visited
the Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River, West Prong of Little Pigeon River and it's
headwaters, and Little River. I didn't get to the North Carolina side of the park. The
weather varied from solid clouds with misting rain to clear skies with sunshine. I
noticed some Needle Stoneflies on Walkers Camp Prong, Mahogany Duns on Little
River and Little Pigeon River, and some Blue-winged Olives on each of the above
The BWOs were plentiful for a short time on Little River but they were still small
species rather than the Fall baetis. This by all means doesn't mean these insects are
the only ones hatching or that have hatched. It's impossible to determine that in a
short time and even in a day.
I was gone from home for just over three hours but I fished only for about a total of an
hour. I caught a four rainbows and one brook trout. Three of the bows came within a
total of not over ten minutes and all on a #18 Blue-winged Olive nymph imitation. I am
confident that if I had of continued to fish, I would have been able to catch plenty of
trout but that's all the time I had fish.
There are still far more Blue-winged Olive nymphs in the mid to low elevation areas of
the streams than anything. It is very early in the morning (5:00 AM) as I am writing this
and it still hasn't rained at my home in Pigeon Forge. The stream levels are still the
same but there is a 40% chance of rain today. Tomorrow it increases to 70%. The
odds are this will increase the numbers of terrestrial insects that get into the water,
depending on the amount of rain we get. Of course, there's no guarantee it will rain. If
it does rain very much, it can dingy the water enough for streamers to play a role in
the fishing strategy for the next few days. You should also try a streamer if you start
fishing early in the morning or very late in the day during low light conditions. Until the
conditions change because of rain, or more of the insects I have listed above begin to
hatch, I still say the best odds for the highest numbers of trout will come from fishing
an imitation of the BWO nymph in a hook size 18 or 20.
If you start seeing decent numbers of Mahogany Duns, you may want to switch to an
imitation of the Mahogany Dun nymph. Of course, if the hatch is underway, you would
switch to a Mahogany Dun emerger or dun pattern. It's also possible that any of the
other aquatic insects listed above may be hatching and if so, you should follow the
same procedure and switch to imitations of their respective stage of life most available
at the time. Until you do encounter other hatches, your best odds will be to stick with
the BWO nymph. If it rains enough to dingy the water, and your fishing the mid to
lower elevations, and particularly streams with brown trout, you should try a streamer.
If it rains enough to wash terrestrials in the water, or the wind is blowing at a good clip,
you should give imitations of them a try. There's still a large number of ants, beetles
and hoppers available. There's lots of craneflies and cranefly larvae. All the
terrestrials will be around in decent numbers until we begin to get heavy frost.
I know the last several weeks of strategy articles seem to repeat the same thing and
may even sound a little boring, but the facts are, there's been few changes in the food
supply during the last few weeks. That's subject to change at any time. Any day
one or more of the other insects listed above could begin to hatch in good quantities.
The Little Yellow Quills and Needle stoneflies could start hatching any day in the
upper and mid elevations. Decent hatches of baetis species of BWO's will take place
by the first week or two of October. Little Yellow Stoneflies may show up in the lower
and mid elevations any day. The Mahogany Duns may begin to hatch in larger
quantities. The intensity of the sparse Slate Drake hatches could increase any time.
Until things change, sticking with the small BWO nymph imitation will still provide more
opportunity for you than anything.
Copyright 2011 James Marsh