01/19/12

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

Update for the weekend
Surprisingly, the weather forecast has held up very well for the first part of the week. Right now,
early this Thursday morning, the temperature in Gatlinburg is 26 and will go a little lower, but the
good news is the warm-up for the weekend is a sure thing.

I did miss one thing that I didn't notice but should have. After writing Monday's article about
strategies, I failed to mention the snow existing in the mountains. I knew we still had some snow in
our yard but due to clouds, I didn't see the mountains until Tuesday afternoon. LeConte was
white and even most all the lower elevation mountains appeared to have a good amount of snow
on their peaks. I checked the water temperature just inside the park in Little Pigeon Tuesday
afternoon to find it was only 40 degrees. I'm sure melting snow was a factor but anyway, that will
not be a problem this weekend. Well, let me rephrase that. It will not be a problem until after the
rain Saturday. The higher mountains will probably get some more snow at that time.

The only "if" in the projected weather and stream conditions is the water level. It's probably going
to remain high and maybe even too high to safely wade but I'll still take it. Just stick with the
streamers if that happens. If not, stick with a small nymph, I suggest the Blue Quill nymph since
the naturals can't hide very well, or a Little Winter Stonefly nymph. They probably won't be
hatching. They will be waiting on more cold weather or dieing from heat exhaustion. I'm kidding, of
course. Back to reality, the only thing hatching of any significance will be midges. If nothing else,
the unseasonable warm weather will speed up the growth of the huge number of immature
aquatic larvae in the streams.

The only potential "bad" is there's rain in the forecast for Friday night and Saturday but that's to
be expected when you have warm weather at this time of the year. The temperature should be in
the high fifties. The rain should move out by Sunday and still remain warm with a high near 60
degrees. I'll have to see that to believe it but it will be very welcome. We will think Spring has
sprung for sure. It will be short lived because showers should return the next day but both
Monday and Tuesday's weather should remain nice and warm. I'll take all of that our good Lord
will allow us to have. In short, this weather is what we will probably be wishing for in late February
or early March.

The bottom line is get off the couch and out on the water.

Winter Stoneflies - Part Two
Winter stoneflies are weird little creatures. In the middle of the Winter their nymphs crawl out from
beneath their rocky bottom homes up through cracks and crevices of the rocks and across the
bottom of the stream to either the nearest rock that protrudes out of the water or the bank to
hatch. They will do this even when snow and ice covers much of the surface at the edges of a
stream they’ve lived in for a year. Even though the little hatch out adult stoneflies have four wings
rolled around their bodies, they will stay in the snow and ice around the banks of the streams
rather than fly away to a tree or bush. They start looking for mates like freshman college kids just
set free by their parents.

Until I read some boring scientific studies, I wondered why these nymph don't freeze when they
climb out of the water in below freezing temperatures. The nymphs emerge as adults either in air
pockets between the water and surface ice (which provides an insulated area), or out on the cold
banks covered with snow or ice in air that's below freezing temperatures. Without going into all
the scientific stuff that none of you are interested in, the little adult bugs supercool. That means
they are capable of cooling to a lower temperature lower than the air without freezing.

The scientist think the little flies have what amounts to anti-freeze compounds in the fluids of their
bodies. They also think that they like the snow because they can get under it in air spaces and
avoid the subzero freezing temperature of the air above the snow. That's like Eskimos living in
igloos. By the way, that's also thought to be why their bodies are either brown or black - to absorb
solar radiation.

Maybe our President should have blown a few billion dollars on studying Winter Stoneflies before
trying to manufacturer solar panels and losing money we borrowed from China to do it. Ironically,
that was the very reason he couldn't build them at a low enough cost to compete in the solar
panel market. He tried to compete with the very people he got a loan from. They have so many
advantages in that regard, that they will even loan money to those that want to try to put them out
of business.

That has little to do with fly fishing for trout, so far, but it hopefully explains why there are bugs for
the trout to eat, even when the air is below freezing temperatures. It also should explain one
reason why our country is still broke. I don't mean to imply being broke is Mr. Obama's fault. I only
mean to imply we are currently broke and China is one of the reasons we are.  
Copyright 2012 James Marsh