11/02/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Little Yellow Quills (
Heptagenia Group)
3.    Needle Stoneflies
4     Slate Drakes
5     Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
6.    Grasshoppers
7.    Ants
8.    Beetles
9  .  Craneflies
10.  Great Brown Autumn Sedge

Think Of The Fall Hatches As Just The Reverse Of Spring
Hatches
In talking to a customer yesterday about fishing during November in the Smokies, I
found it interesting as to just how he perceived things to be with regards to hatches of
Blue-winged Olives. During the conversation, he mentioned two or three times, that he
waited until the middle of the afternoon to fish. At first, I didn't pay much attention to
that, thinking he had reasons other than catching trout for waiting until later in the day
to start. Later on in the conversation I discovered he assumed that the water was to
cold to catch trout in the mornings and early afternoons.

First of all, look at the above listed aquatic insects that may hatch depending on the
particular stream and elevation. With the exception of the Blue-winged Olives, which I
will get to shortly, they are Great Brown Autumn Sedges (called Autumn or Fall Caddis
by some), Slate Drakes, Needle Stoneflies and Little Yellow Quills.
These hatches
don't start occurring when the water gets up to a certain temperature. They
start occurring when the water gets down to a certain temperature
. It's just
the reverse of what happens in the Spring.

Without getting technical, let me just list the water temperatures that are best for
these hatches to occur.  Both the Little Yellow Quills and Little Needle Stoneflies are
fast water insects. They are clinger nymphs and are more common in the higher
elevations of the Smokies than the lower elevations. During the Fall, with only rare
exceptions of temperature inversion, the water temperature starts cooling in the
higher elevations before it does in the lower elevations. They hatch best in water
between 47 and 52 degrees. Whereas that may not happen much in the low
elevations until November, it can happen in the high elevations as early as late
September and early October. There is a big variation depending on the weather and
that's why the hatch period for these insects can stretch out over a longer than
normal period of time.

The Great Brown Autumn Sedges are found more in the lower and mid elevations.
This is due mostly to pH levels and types of water rather than water temperature. It's
the same situation with the Slate Drakes. Neither of these insects are fast water
insects. The large sedges (caddisflies) prefer more moderate to slow flows and so
does the Slate Drakes, which are swimming nymphs. Thriving better in lower
elevations also means they may hatch later in the year than insects in the higher
elevations. That said, they do prefer to hatch at slightly warmer water temperatures
ranging from 50 to 55 degrees. The water temps may drop into the forties and you
may still see the large adult caddis but that's because they can live for a few days. In
other words, they hatched when the water was warmer.

That leaves the Blue-winged Olives, a common, catch-all name for many different
species of mayflies that have various shades of green tinted bodies and gray wings. It
even includes some crawler mayflies although most of them are swimmers. During the
Fall, there can be up to six different species called BWOs you may see. Right now,
the main hatch you should be concerned with are the Fall
baetis. They are called Fall
baetis because this species is bi-brooded. In other words,they hatch two times a year
- in the Spring and Fall. These are a size 18. Actually, the males are closer to a 20
but the females are 18. If these are hatching, you can rest assured the trout will be
eating them. These hatch in the calm to moderate flows immediately adjacent to faster
water. They are sometimes slow getting off the water in cooler temperatures and often
get caught up in the current seams. These hatch best from 42 degrees up to about
48 degrees. These are the bugs that you should be most concerned with at the
present time.
In fact, it will probably get too warm for them to hatch during the
next few days.
The water got colder this past weekend and the hatches got much
better. This past Sunday, if I had not moved after each fish I caught (fishing several
streams and only for about two hours) I could have easily caught a very large number
of trout. They were feeding on the BWOs nymphs and emerging duns like it would be
their last meal. Night time temps in the mid to high forties and days in the high sixties
that are predicted for this weekend is too warm for them.

When the water is in the mid to upper fifties, there are some
lata species of Eastern
Blue-winged Olives that could hatch where there's a reasonable pH level. They are
usually not that plentiful but very noticeable due to their large size. The females can
be near 14's and the males 16's. These are crawler nymphs,not swimmers. This hatch
may be over except for the lowest elevations.

There are three other species of very small BWO mayflies, usually called Small BWOs
and sometimes, Little BWOs. These range from a hook size 18 at the largest up to a
22 depending on the gender and species. These hatch, depending on the species,
from 55 degrees down to 42 degrees. The trout eat these also but the hatches are
difficult to fish because they hatch in the calm, slack water and the fish feeding on
them spook easily.

The main point I want to get across is all of these insects including all of the
Blue-winged Olives as well as the Slate Drakes, Little Yellow Quills, Great Brown
Autumn Sedges and Little Needle Stoneflies, hatches of which will soon the ending,
hatch when the average daily water temperatures are generally falling, not
rising.
This will remain true on into December to the first of January when the water
averages being in the high thirties and low forties. At that time, only the Blue-winged
Olives would have an opportunity to hatch. The others listed above will all be hatched
out.

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Copyright 2011 James Marsh