Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Yellow Quills (Heptagenia Group) (slight chance)
3. Needle Stoneflies (slight chance)
4 Great Brown Autumn Sedge (slight chance)
6. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fishing Streamers In The Smokies - Part Three
The majority of streamer flies imitate minnows or baitfish. As I have written during the past several
articles, the streams of the Smokies have many different types of minnow and baitfish. Most are
various types of sculpin, suckers, shinners, chubs and dace. Trout also eat trout fry.
The sculpin are always found on the bottom or even down between rocks on the bottom. They mostly
avoid being eaten by hiding from the trout. Most of the other types of minnows and baitfish swim at
various depths depending on the type of water and conditions of the stream. They avoid being eaten
by larger fish using their speed and alertness. They can dart out of range of larger trout very quickly.
These small minnows and baitfish are not easy for the trout to catch and eat. Most of them have the
ability to escape their larger prey very easily. They can dart behind a rock in a spilt second. They
also seem to know when the trout are interested in eating them and when they are not interested in
eating them. This may not be factual, but just from observation, it sure does appear that way.
Many of the non-bottom species of minnows and baitfish feed on the same things trout feed on -
aquatic insects. If you have fished Little River very much, I'm sure you have seen the time it was
easier to catch a Warpaint Shiner on a small dry fly than a trout. To feed on emerging aquatic
insects, like the trout, they have to put themselves in a exposed position. Sometimes the larger trout
feed on minnows and baitfish that are feeding on a hatch of smaller aquatic insects.
Like most other fish, trout seem to be able to catch and eat minnows and baitfish easier when there's
current involved. This is very evident when your fishing tailwaters. On most tailwaters, when the
turbines are not running at all, the fish tend to shut down and not feed as much. It's also true of most
all inshore saltwater species of fish that feed on and off depending on the current flow caused by
changing tides. A dead tide, high or low, usually means tough fishing conditions. It's even true with
offshore, bluewater species that depend greatly on rip and ocean rotary currents to concentrate the
smaller fish they prey on. In the freestone streams of the Smokies, this means most of the time, trout
feeding on baitfish and minnows do so in the runs and riffles, rather than the pools. It's much easier
for them catch their prey in the fast water than the slower, calmer water of the pools although the
current leading into and out of a pools certainly shouldn't be overlooked.
Larger fish always key in on injured or crippled baitfish. Lures that imitate injured baitfish have been
around for many years and proven successful for a large number of species of gamefish. Baitfish
that swims erratic and appears disoriented are the first ones to get picked off by a gamefish. It's
much easier for them to catch a crippled or disoriented baitfish than one in good condition. This is
one reason a streamer fished using an erratic retrieve often works better than a steady retrieve.
I will get into the details of how I prefer to fish streamers later on in the series but for now, I do want to
mention something I feel is of great importance when fishing flies that imitate baitfish or minnows.
Larger trout are not used to seeing baitfish or minnows swimming up to them. Right the opposite of
that, they are used to seeing them fleeing away from them. It certainly isn't natural for a small baitfish
or minnow to swim right up to the mouth of a large fish. When you are retrieving a streamer using a
steady retrieve and the fly drifts or swims right up to the mouth of a larger trout, you are imitating
something that is completely unnatural. In fact, my guess is that a fly retrieved in such a manner as to
just swim up to a large trout may tend to even frighten it. I have seen several different species of
large saltwater game fish actually flee from a bait retrieved directly towards them in a steady manner.
I have watched large Cobia flee from small live ells drifting up to fish holding on buoys and oil rigs.
On the other hand , its almost impossible to retrieve one away from a Cobia fast enough to keep it
from eating it. I've seen many different species of large gamefish flee from lures, jigs and flies that
approached them in such unnatural ways.
There's another basic important factor many anglers fail to stop and consider. When your fishing a
stream with current, such as the freestone streams of the Smokies, and your fly that imitates a
minnow or baitfish that is drifting, or being retrieved directing downstream at a trout holding in the
current facing upstream, the trout only gets a direct head-on view of the fly. It doesn't see the side
profile or side view of the baitfish or minnow. How many flies actually look like a real baitfish under
these conditions? Would a trout recognize the fly as a small forage fish? This is also something that
doesn't occur in the real, underwater world of a trout. A real baitfish or minnow would spot the trout
and dart off in a different direction.
Over the years, many generic and attractor type streamers have been developed to imitate baitfish
and minnows. The Clousers, Zonkers and Deceivers developed years ago have survived because
they can be effective under varying conditions. More recently there has been a trend towards more
realistic fly patterns that imitate forage fish. Just how well any pattern works depends greatly on the
amount of available light and conditions of the water. Our Perfect Fly company has developed
several realistic fly patterns that have proven successful for saltwater and freshwater species of
forage fish. We are currently working on several new patterns that will imitate specific baitfish and
minnows that trout commonly feed on.
Our Perfect Fly Shad is an example of a more realistic streamer fly we developed last year.
Copyright 2011 James Marsh