01/21/12

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

Little Winter Stoneflies - Part Four
When the Little Winter Stoneflies hatch, unlike a mayfly, they remain alive and near the stream
for a  few days. I'm not sure as to how long. All I can go by is other stoneflies that have been
tested in this regard. I just know they mate, the females deposit their eggs and both genders die.
When this happens, they may or may not fall on the water. My guess is the adults are around at
least a week and maybe up to two weeks or more.

The point about this that's important is that when the various species (remember there's over 15
inside the park) hatch is very cold water, the odds of trout eating the egg layers rising to the
surface to eat a dry fly are slim. The will do it, however, and they will even do it even when the
water is as low as forty degrees. I have caught a few trout on our Perfect Fly imitation of the Little
Winter Stonefly when the water was that cold. Even so, I doubt the odds of doing so consistently
are very high.

The thing that may be more important about trout eating the adults is that when the weather and
resultant water temperature gets warm after a hatch (for example, like today and tomorrow), they
may eat the adults from the surface on a more consistent basis. I have found a few of the adults
along the streams within the past week. Although I doubt the hatches of the various species will
continue at to any appreciable extent while the water is warmer, in the high forties and low fifties,
for example, those that have hatched will certainly be around until the mating and egg laying
process has ended.

Now that I've written that, I can say that so far this year, I haven't found any egg laying activity.
That said, it's also true that I haven't been on the water enough to know if there was much egg
laying activity or not. I'll put it this way. Whatever the number of stoneflies that have hatched so
far is, they either have already gone through the process or they will be doing so shorty. My
guess is, only a small percentage of the 15 species have hatched. I say that because of the
unusually warm month we have had. I think you will see much more activity from the stoneflies this
coming month and possibly even early March, all depending on the weather.

Knowing when to fish the adult imitation is obvious.
Fish it when you see egg laying activity
taking place.
I don't think your odds of success will be very high unless the little bugs are
depositing their eggs.

Knowing where to fish the adult imitation is also very obvious.
Fish it in the same area of water
you see the egg laying activity occurring in.
 The trout will be aware of this.

I don't think it makes much difference how you present the fly as long as it lands in the area of the
egg laying activity and as long as the trout don't detect your presence on the stream or your fly
line hitting the water. The egg laying occurs in the same place the stoneflies spend their one year
life - in the fast runs and riffles. This isn't a still or slow moving water thing. Stoneflies need plenty
of oxygen during the warm months of the year and almost always are found in the fast water.
During the times we caught and photographed aquatic insects in the Smokies, we found them in
our kick nets year-round from underneath the rocks on the bottom of the runs and riffles.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
"Perfect Fly" Adult Little Winter Stonefly
This imitation has a closed cell foam body,
flexible nylon legs, tail and antennae. The
wings are also flexible and made from raffia.
Thumbnail Image - click to enlarge