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 Great Brown Autumn Sedge
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - Part 17
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.
I delayed writing this strategy article because I thought we may be in for a good rain,
and as relates to the higher elevations of the Smokies, possibly more than was
forecast for the foothills areas such as Gatlinburg. From looking at the National
Weather Service precipitation map, I can see where that was the case. Although there
wasn't as much water that fell as there could have been, within the last 24 hours the
park received as much as 2.5 inches of rain. Most areas appear to have received
closer to 2 inches. That isn't enough water to create any flooding, or at least it wasn't
the case in any of the areas I visited yesterday. It is enough to stain the water badly
and stop anglers from wading for a short time.
I made a trip into the park both yesterday and the day before. I didn't make a cast
either time. Although I intended to fish some yesterday, by the time I got to the park,
the bottom fell out.
I wish I could tell you just how the high water affects the brown trout spawn but it would
be pure speculation. I'm not sure anyone knows for certain. If the results are known, it
seems it would have to come from data collected on fish populations in previous
years that was taken a year or two after similar high water conditions occurred during
the spawn. I do know that not all of the trout have completed the spawn cycle. I'm not
certain as to what percentage may have finished. The eggs must remain intact (they
are covered with layers of small gravel) until early Spring. My guess is the high water
has less affect than we might tend to think. Mother Nature has ways of coping with
such; however, I no longer finished typing that before it dawned on me that brown
trout aren't native to the streams in the North America. I feel sure Mr. Steve Moore,
head fishery biologist for the park, has collected enough data and studied the subject
enough to have a very good idea as to the effects of high water during the spawn.
There isn't anything anyone can do to change the results, whatever it is.
The stream and weather conditions are going to change a huge amount
every day for the next week. The weather forecast for Gatlinburg shows rain
ending this morning and the skies clearing this afternoon. The temperature will remain
around 45 degrees throughout the day. The low tonight should be a cold 26 degrees.
The high Friday will only reach 53 with a low Friday night expected to be around 29.
If your fishing today, you will be doing so from the banks in stained water. If you fish
tomorrow, the water will still be high but very cold. By the way, in general terms, about
the worst conditions you can face is high, stained, very cold water. The combination
makes it tough to find and catch trout. I doubt the water temperature reaches 40
degrees Friday, even in the lower elevations. That's too cold for anything other than
midges to hatch. Sure, you can throw large streamers and nymphs but for the most
part, if you catch anything you will be catching a spawning brown trout aggressively
trying to protect its territory. It's also possible, especially in the mid to higher
elevations (where brown trout exist that may have finished spawning) that you may
hook a post spawn trout but it's not nearly as probable as hooking a spawning fish.
Spawning brown trout will hit a large streamer or big nymph that cross their path just
right even in very cold water as low as the high thirties and low forties. Whether it is
intentional or not, doing so does affect the trout's ability and success during the
spawn. That's why fishing for brown trout during the spawn is out of season or off
limits in many streams across the nation.
Conditions will improve Saturday with a high that's expected to reach 57. The low
Saturday night will only dip down to 44. This should bring about excellent water
temperatures for the baetis Blue-winged Olives to hatch Saturday but they will be
sparse because of the clear skies. On Saturday, you will want to fish the lower
elevations for sure.
Sunday brings about just as large of a change. Clouds will begin to return and the
high will reach near 65 degrees. With a low the night before of only 44, this creates
the same weather pattern we have had for most of the past three weeks now. It's more
Springlike than Fall weather. Sunday's weather will bring the water temperature back
up above that desirable for the baetis hatches. As you can see, every day will be
an entirely different situation as relates to water temperatures and stream
levels. The water won't drop back to normal very fast because the water table is in
good shape. You can expect a steady but moderate decline in stream levels but read
Starting Sunday night and Monday, they are forecasting a 40 percent chance of rain
and a high temperature on Monday of 67. At that point in time, the stream levels will
still be high. If this holds out, the water will remain high throughout next week. The
chances of rain should be 30 percent on Tuesday and 40 percent next Wednesday.
Of course, that far in the future, the forecast is subject to change. Just don't expect
drastic changes in the forecast. The bottom line is that the weather is going to
be cold for a day or two and then back to being unseasonably warm.
There will be more brown trout that have finished spawning than last week, but my
guess is that's still mostly in the mid to higher elevations where the browns exist. I
think the warmer temperatures we have experienced the last few days has slowed the
spawning process down some in the lower elevations. As mentioned last week, It will
be well into December before all of them have spawned. The big difference is for the
next few days, if the high water doesn't detour them, those on their redds will be
bothered less by anglers. It won't be as easy for those seeking an unsportsmanlike
advantage to spot them.
You may have some opportunities to catch some post-spawn browns, depending on
the location you fish. The majority of, or at least many of those browns that exist in the
higher elevations may have spawned. The same thing may be true of those at the
middle elevations. The majority of those in the lower elevations have not finished
spawning. At some point, those that have finished spawning will begin to feed, as
opposed to protecting their territory. For the most part, I don't think that has
happened at this point in time. From what I have observed, It seems to me the spawn
is smack in the middle of the cycle, at least in the mid to lower elevations.
I will continue this article tomorrow as relates to suggesting specific fishing strategies.
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Copyright 2011 James Marsh