01/31/12

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
Hatching:
1.    Midges
2.    Little Winter Stoneflies

Available/getting near hatching or other types of food:
3.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
4.    Blue Quills  (Nymphs)     
5.    Blue-winged Olives (Nymphs)

Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - Part 28
We can expect warmer than usual temperatures for the Great Smoky Mountains this coming week
and weekend. Although it's only 35 degrees at the time I'm writing this, the high today in
Gatlinburg should reach a warm 63 degrees and back down to 37 for a low tonight.. Clouds will
move in a little more for Wednesday bringing a 40 percent change of rain increasing to 60
percent Wednesday night. The rain chances decrease to 30 percent for Thursday and the high
should reach 54 during the day with low that night a more normal 38 degrees.

I should stop here and point out that I've noticed a trend in the forecast made over three or four
days in advance. It always seems they increase the rain changes the closer it gets to the actual
date. You also have to take into consideration the rain forecast is based on the valley or foothill
elevations, not the higher elevations. As pointed out the other day, the precipitation will almost
always shows more rain in the higher elevations. That's also confirmed by the fact the higher
mountain annual rainfall amounts are much higher than the surrounding territory. Looking at the
charts on the
National Park website weather page, you can see that for February, Gatlinburg's
average rainfall amount is 4.8 inches with the average snow amount of 2.9 inches. For the same
period the average rainfall amount for Clingmans Dome is 8.2 inches and the snowfall is 20
inches. That's a huge difference. The rain is almost double and the snow is over 6 times the
amount of Gatlinburg. By the way, March has an average of 8 inches of rain and 26 inches of
snow at Clingmans Dome.

The point of this is that although the rain chances and temperatures are warm in the foothills, the
temperatures of the air and water draining from the higher elevations is much colder. We will
probably see some snow in the high elevation before this week is over, even with the above
average warm temperatures expected. According to the long range forecast beyond this week,
the second week of February looks like the mountains will get quite a bit of snow. The cold
weather hasn't exactly gone away for the remaining Winter.

Back to Friday's forecast, sunshine should return with a high near 57. Chances of rain increase
back up to 50% again for Saturday with a high that day of 58. Sunday's high will drop a little to 51
and so will the chances of rain. This is all subject to change and I'll bet the acorns in my front
yard it will increase rather than decrease. Why do I say that. Well, Jerry Maslar of Trout University
is coming over to fish with me this weekend. It's that simple. When he comes, it rains. He may
even bring his son Steven to show us how to fish.

Seriously, you can pretty well count on the forecast of temperatures to be fairly accurate. The
rainfall amounts always seem to fool the weather guys. Last week the rain forecast was bad off. It
was supposed to rain a bunch and didn't, not even in the high elevations. The bottom line is
conditions should be good this weekend with one possible exception and that being water levels.
The levels could possible be high Saturday and Sunday but could also be perfect. At the present
time the levels have dropped down into the "wadable but use caution" category. Rain amounts
are predicted to be light this weekend. I hope they are right this time.

Now, I will get to the strategies to use this week. As I normally do, I would like to call the
shots through Friday and take another closer look at the weekend around Thursday or Friday. i
will update the strategy article for the weekend later this week.  

First of all, I don't see any good in the unusual warm temperatures from a long range perspective.
Sure, it will be nice for a change, especially for someone like me who lived most of their grown life
in Florida.
Other than that, like a blind squirrel looking for an acorn, about all the
unseasonably warm weather does is make it a little easier for a an angler with a
one-track mind to hang an opportunistically feeding trout.

From now through Friday, the basic procedure I suggest you use is to fish the slow to moderate
flows using an imitation of the Blue Quill nymph. These are hook size 18 nymphs. These won't
hatch for probably another month but the water is full of them right now, and they are fully grown
and developing wing pads. These are crawler nymphs and can't hide like the clingers can. For
example, Quill Gordons are clinger nymphs and have progressed to about the same point as the
Blue Quills but they are still underneath the rocks on the bottom of the deeper runs and riffles
and not very available for the trout to eat. They won't change their habitat until they get within a
week or two of hatching. All the stoneflies, except the Little Winter Stoneflies, are clinger nymphs
that are in the same situation.

There are lots of
brunneicolor baetis (Blue-winged Olives) nymphs that usually start hatching
about mid March that are also quite plentiful. These are swimmers and like the crawlers, are not
as able to hide as well as the clingers, but they are not as plentiful as the Blue Quill nymphs at
this time of the year.
I'm pointing this out to explain why I'm suggesting the Blue Quill
nymph will generally provide the highest odds of success.

If it's early or late in the day, in other words low light conditions, you may want to use a streamer. I
suggest imitating the sculpin with our "Perfect Fly" Little Brown Sculpin. If it rains enough to raise
the water levels much, and especially if the water gets some stain to it, you should probably stick
with a streamer. Again, this could happen Wednesday and Thursday. Otherwise, except for low
light or stained water conditions, stick with the Blue Quill nymph. Late in the day, near sunset,
when they start crawling out of the water to hatch, change to a Little Winter Stonefly nymph and
swing it all the way to the banks. See my previous tips on fishing this nymph.

Blue Quill Nymph Presentation: Add some spilt shot a few inches above the fly and keep it on
the bottom, not dropped from a indicator or a tandem rig. Fish the moderate to slow water, not
the fast water. Pockets behind boulders, marginal water next to the bank, tail ends and heads of
pools (not the deep areas) and other similar slack water areas are all areas where these nymphs
are plentiful and the trout will be looking for them in the warmer than usual water. Use a 5X leader
and stay hidden from the trout. If you stick with these strategies and use good presentation
techniques, you should be able to catch trout fairly consistently.

Again, I'll update this later in the week.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Thumbnail: Click Image
"Perfect Fly" Blue Quill Nymph. This
yellowish brown crawler nymph is
made using a goose biot, dubbed
thorax, turkey wing pad, and soft
hackle legs and tail. It has two EMU
feathers at the back of the thorax that
imitates the large gills of the crawler
nymphs. They move even when the
fly is sitting still.
This fly, along with
the other stages of the Blue Quills,
will be one of the bread and butter
flies for the next two months in the
Smokies.