02/09/12

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)

New "K.I.S.S. A Bug" Series:
A recent trip to the bank made me stop and think how I often fail to recognize just how little is
known by the general public about fly fishing. I walked in a local Regions Bank office and spoke to
the manager as usual who asked "how's business". I commented that I was retired but that my
wife's Perfect Fly business was doing just great. He then ask what type of business that was. I
immediately replied that it was a fly fishing business. He looked puzzled and then asked if she
owned a fishing bait shop. I responded by saying "no, a fly fishing company". He pointed to the
front door of the bank and said "we've been having trouble with flies the last couple of days it has
been warm". I gave him a strange look back and realizing the conversation was going no where
fast, he followed up by continuing to point at the door and saying "that was the only flies he knew
anything about". To shorten this story, after I explained what Angie's fly fishing business
consisted of, I soon found out he actually didn't have the slightest comprehension of what fly
fishing was.

Now granted, so far, this is probably of little interest and certainly of no importance to any of you
except for the fact that particular "blind leading the blind" conversation  made me stop and think
just how I often falsely assume others know what I'm saying or writing when they really don't have
a clue what I'm trying to convey. Part of the reason is I'm not a good writer and part of it is
because the subject of aquatic insects isn't at the top of the all time hits list of anything.

Taking that a step further,  a couple of weeks ago, I was fishing with someone whom has fly
fished for a few years, yet proceed to tie on one of our Perfect Fly Little Winter Stonefly imitations
the first thing that late morning. I didn't notice it until he held the fly up and said "this is what you
want me to fish isn't it?". He had tied on our hook size 16 imitation of the Adult Little Winter
Stonefly. I responded by saying "no, they don't lay their eggs until late in the day after the sun
sets". You need to be using one of the Blue Quill nymphs for now.

I had brought some of the Little Winter Stonefly adults imitations along for him to use later that
late afternoon. In the same little box of flies I had given him were some Blue Quill nymphs, Blue
Winged Olive nymphs and a few other flies. When I first noticed what he had done, I came very
close to embarrassing him but thank goodness, I paused to think about what he had done.
Otherwise, I would probably have said something like "no dummy, stoneflies don't hatch in the
water and they dang sure don't hatch or deposit their eggs at this time of the day - don't you
know anything about stoneflies". If Angie had done the same thing, and she wouldn't because
she knows better, I would have responded with something that made the later sound nice
even
though I'm sure I would have spent the rest of the day apologising.

In other words, I'm very guilty of thinking others know things about aquatic insects that although
to me may seem elementary, aren't well known to other anglers. The facts are, most anglers,
even many of those that have fished for years, aren't that familiar with aquatic insects. Not
everyone that loves the sport of fly fishing has spent hundreds of days capturing and studying
aquatic insects as well as hundreds more reading everything available on the subject. Granted,
that takes either an idiot or someone very interested in what trout eat. In my case, it came from
many years of not only fishing for fun, but from earning my living as a result of it. I leaned many
years ago, mostly the hard way, that irrespective of what species of fish I was trying to catch, that
although merely selecting a favorite lure out of a box often resulted in a certain amount of
success, it lacked in consistency big time. I learned that simply relying on the same strategy most
anglers rely on
that heavily depends on luck as well as good fishing conditions, wouldn't
keep the electricity bills paid, food in the belly of my family and gas in the vehicles.
I found out in
the late 1970's, the more I knew about the fish I was pursuing and the food they relied
on to survive, the more I could consistently catch them.

In 1998, when Angie and I started fly fishing almost exclusively for trout, I already knew trout didn't
actually prefer to eat hair and feathers. I knew Parachute Adams didn't hatch.
I knew that in
order to be able to consistently catch trout, I had to learn all about the various species
of trout and all about the food they relied on to survive.  
The only thing I didn't quite
understand as well as I should have was that in the case of aquatic insects, there's more to it
than first meets the eye. Certainly, I underestimated what was involved when we first set out to
produce instructional DVDs on all the significant aquatic insects throughout the nation. The
production of our Mayfly DVD and our Stonefly DVD took several years involving hundreds of
different trout streams and hundreds of hours of what amounts to hard work.

Now that I've made it seem overly complicated, please be advised that in respect to being able to
help anyone be able to consistently catch trout under varying fishing conditions, learning what all
anglers need to know isn't at all complicated. Although it does take a little time and effort, being
able to learn what you need to know about the important insects and for that matter, other trout
food, isn't really such a big deal as most anglers think it is.
To put it bluntly, it first requires a
person smart enough to recognise it and ignore those who downplay its importance

and push just using a standard list of generic flies. In spite of how professional you may think
others that should know (including some fly shop salesman, some guides and some legends in
their own mind "that's been fishing these here waters" for fifty years), you will never find anyone
that actually knows much about the insects that will downplay its importance.
If you will notice,
it's always those that don't know a caddisfly pupa from a June bug that attempt to hide
their ignorance of aquatic insects by downplaying their importance. They much rather
push things like "Smoky Mountain" flies.

Many that do just that may not know it, but the aquatic insects that exist in the Smokies, are
the exact same aquatic insects that exist in the majority, if not most all of the freestone
trout streams in the Eastern United States.  

Admittedly, most of the previous articles that I have written about the aquatic insects of the
Smokies may be boring to some. They may well have been too involved to keep the attention of
those who only have a limited amount of time to spend on fly fishing. I would much prefer to keep
everyone's level of enthusiasm in high gear. I certainly don't want to discourage anyone that
wants to learn how to become a better angler using an over technical approach, or with too much
scientific stuff and not enough easy to grasp, practical application.   

Since we are still at the beginning of a new fly fishing season and since I can cover all the
important aquatic and terrestrial insects, as well as the other trout food that exist in the Smokies
from the beginning to the end of the year, I intend to do just that with
our new "K.I.S.S. A Bug"
series. The "keep it simple stupid" bug series starts soon at your favorite fly fishing
website.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh