01/04/12

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Midges
2.    Little Winter Stoneflies
3.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)

Fly fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - Part 24

As I am writing this, the outside temperature in Gatlinburg is 20 degrees and is predicted to go as
low as 17 before reaching its low for the day. From that point on the forecast indicates the
weather will warm back up again. We continue on the weather roller coaster with huge variations.
Today's high should be about 41. Tonight's low will be 24 and Thursday's high, 49. Friday should
be sunny and 59 degrees with a low that night of only 37. A low pressure system will move in
Friday night and Saturday's and Sunday's weather forecast calls for highs from 50 - 55 degrees
with a 30 percent chance of rain.

Today and tomorrow, the water will probably only be in the thirties. The water temperature will
also be affected by the warming trend by melting snow. Our yard still has about an inch and the
mountains are covered. The water will still be cold Friday even though the air will warm up that
afternoon. It should at least reach the mid forties or better late Friday and continue to warm some
through Saturday. The low pressure system and associated cloud cover during the weekend will
make things better from a light perspective.

The only thing that should hatch are midges. From now until Friday, fishing imitations of cream
midge larvae should bring you the highest possible odds of success. These should be presented
on the bottom in slow moving water. If you see any adult midges on the surface, change to an
imitation of the cream midge pupae. If you see quite a few on the surface, you may want to get
brave and try an imitation of the adult cream midge.

It's possible there's some Little BWO nymphs that still hasn't hatched, but I doubt it. It's also
possible that some Little Winter Stoneflies may hatch but I doubt it because it's still a little early in
the year for them to start appearing,. One reason this is difficult to predict is the fact there's at
least eight species of Little Winter stoneflies in the Capniidae family that exist in the streams of
the park. Seven species are from the
Allocapnia genus and one species from the Paracapnia
genus and my guess is there's probably more that haven't been identified. Some of these are
more suited to moderate water and some fast water. They don't all hatch at the same time. None
of them are extremely plentiful. I will be writing about the details of the hatches later in the near
future but since I have them on the above list I wanted to make sure I didn't imply you should
expect to start seeing very many of them on the banks anytime soon. The Little Winter stoneflies
will hatch anytime from now on into early March depending on the location and particular species.

Although there still may be some little BWOs left to hatch, based on our previous samples of
insects observed from the streams during the month of January, there will be only a few as
compared to the Little Winter Stonefly nymphs that will soon start becoming available for the trout
to eat. Now two things I just wrote may be confusing to you as follows.

The first is the fact there's still a huge number of several different species of BWO nymphs that's
available for the trout to eat. Most all of them are swimming nymphs and can only avoid being
eaten by trout by hiding. They don't get down underneath the rocks on the bottom of the stream
like the crawler mayfly and stonefly nymphs do. In other words, they are not nearly as safe from
being eaten as the clingers The problem is, the great majority of them are immature. They are in
an early instar level of development.  They are tiny, half grown or less nymphs. If you include
them with the Slate Drake swimming nymphs (which take two years to develop) it means there are
still a large number of swimming nymphs available for trout to eat.

The second thing is that although there's plenty of almost fully grown Little Winter Stonefly
nymphs, they stay relatively safe from the trout until a week or two prior to the time they crawl out
of the water to hatch. At that point, they will become easy targets for food for the trout. They will
be fully exposed on the bottom. From now until Friday, when the water is in the high thirties to low
forties, I think the highest odds will could come from imitating the Little Winter Stoneflies. Ninety
percent of these are a hook size 18 when they are fully grown. The Little Winter Stonellies will
hatch in water much colder than the BWOs. Although I hate to have to resort to trial and error
methods of fishing, under the conditions, it may be the only logical approach.

From Friday through the weekend, I think the BWO nymphs could offer higher odds. What BWOs
haven't hatched, if any, should with the warming tend bringing the water temperatures back into
the high forties. If you use a hook size 18 or 20 BWO nymph, you are still imitating much of the
available food even if the late season hatches are completely finished.

Now keep in mind, none of the flies I'm recommending work great when presented in the wrong
areas of the stream. I cannot possible go into all the details of presenting the flies in this article.
There's plenty of information available on this website regarding that. You can easily find it by
looking under the "Hatches" section, the "Flies" section and the "previous articles from near this
time of the year. All of these sections are linked at the top of the main pages; There's also
additional information on how to present each of these flies on our Perfect Fly website. Tying on
the right fly is only a part of the solution to catching trout. It must be presented correctly at the
right time if you expect it to be effective.

By the way, any of these flies are capable of catching large trout, including very large brown
trout. In fact, they offer your highest odds of doing so. There is an important consideration you
should keep in mind. These small nymphs and larvae imitations require light leaders and tippet.
Although it's possible to catch large brown trout on light tippet, it is more difficult than doing so on
a heavier leader and tippet. Being able to use a larger fly offers that advantage but unlike most
anglers think, at this time of the year, it doesn't offer any other advantage.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Perfect Fly Cream Midge Larvae
Perfect Fly Little Winter Stonefly Nymph
Perfect Fly Blue-winged Olive Nymph
Perfect Fly Adult Cream Midge
Perfect Fly Cream Midge Pupa
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