02/08/12

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

Most available/ Near hatching and other types of available food:
3.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
4.    Blue Quills  (Nymphs)     
5.    Blue-winged Olives (Nymphs)

Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - 29 Continued
I fully intended to fish the park yesterday afternoon but that turned out to be impossible. The
warm weather that has caused a flurry in everyone's activity and interest in getting an early start
at fly fishing has increased our normal slowest two months of the year, January and February, to
new, unexpected heights. What's happening in the Smokies seems to be happening all across
the country, even in areas where the weather isn't so great. We are getting orders from
everywhere and for every species of fish that can be caught on a fly even though many of the
state's trout seasons are closed. Whatever the cause in the recent flurry of business, we will
gladly accept it; however, it's making a big dent in the free time both Angie and I have to do
anything but work.

If the weather was staying unseasonably warm, I would be hard pressed to fish, but not from the
standpoint your probably thinking. I would like to have tested some of the strategies I would have
been suggesting during the unusually warm weather. That, however, is not going to be a
problem. As mentioned in yesterday's article, the weather is returning to a more normal situation
for this time of the year. However, the forecast I reported yesterday has already substantially
changed. Today there's a chance of rain and snow before 10 am, then a slight chance of rain
between 10am and 4pm.

That's almost scary because that forecast for Gatlinburg is just that - for Gatlinburg and not the
high elevations of the mountains. The best way I know how to put it is that it normally means it's
going to rain (in this case probably snow) more in the higher elevations in the park and the big
question is always how much. I don't think this low is a major factor though. There's only a 30
percent chance of precipitation for today and tonight.

The temperature at this time is 30 degrees and tonight and Thursday night will be a little colder at
28 degrees. With highs near 48 each day, you can rest assured that the water temperature will
not reach over the mid forties and probably only the low forties the following few days. Friday's
high may reach 52 but there's more rain and snow predicted for Friday night and Saturday.
Saturday's high will only reach 39. Sunday will be a good day for ice fishing. The Saturday night
low is going to be 22 in Gatlinburg with the high only reaching 42 on Sunday.

Hopefully, the stream levels will stay within reasonably easy to wade levels because Hi-stickin will
be your best shot at numbers. Streamers may work well early and late but unless there's enough
rain to stain the water, it will be clear as gin during the sunny times of the day.

There was some sporadic hatch activity in the very low elevations during the last three or four
days. Marginal areas for trout to exist, like the Middle Prong of Little River near the beginning of
the payment, and Metcalf Bottoms and downstream a short ways, had some sporadic Quill
Gordon activity according to some of our customers that fished there. The big clinger nymphs
don't move out from beneath the rocks of the fast water into the pockets to hatch until its very
near the time for them to hatch. Unlike most mayflies, Quill Gordons hatch on the bottom or mid
stream, not on the surface. If the water is on the chilly side, you can usually do far better fishing a
wet fly imitation of the dun than you can fishing a dry fly although the later is more fun to fish. If
the hatch activity hasn't already subsided, today will probably be the end of that opportunity in
the lowest elevations due to the changing weather forthcoming.

As mentioned last week, the Blue Quills which normally hatch about the same time are crawler
nymphs, are much more available than the clinger nymphs. They are also more plentiful because
they hatch over a much longer period of time than the Quill Gordons. What we could see, even
though I'm holding off recommending them as a priority, are hatches of Blue-winged Olives.
There's both Little BWOs possible, hook size 20, as well as the possibility of the larger size 18
Brunneicolor baetis. My guess is these will be another two or three weeks appearing but the
nymphs are swimmers that are pretty much readily available. The advantage of mentioning them
is the fact they will hatch in colder water than the Blue Quills. If you see some, by all means switch
from the Blue Quill Nymph imitation to a BWO nymph or emerger pattern.

As mentioned, considering the upcoming forecast, and assuming the water levels stay
appropriate, numbers wise, hi-sticking using a Blue Quill nymph should offer your highest odds of
success. Just keep in mind the nymphs stay in the marginal areas of moderate to slow water, not
the fast water. Fish the outside of the current seams. That makes it a little more difficult to stay
hidden from the trout. Try to approach these areas from behind boulders or other cover. If you
can't, wade the deeper water (provided it's safe) to help conceal your presence by staying lower
in the water. Unless your fishing from behind an obstruction such as a boulder, and if your wading
water that's only a foot deep, for example, you will have to make a longer presentation than you
can make Hi-stickin. Remember, the key is to keep the fly line out of the water and that's not easy
unless your fishing close in.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh