Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Blue-winged Ollives (Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
4. Blue Quills
5. Quill Gordons
6. Little Black Caddis (Brachycentrus)
7. Little Brown Stoneflies
Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - Part 31
The blackberries are getting ripe, the Mountain Laurel has finished blooming, my tomatoes are
getting ripe, bikini clad girls are drifting down Little River in black inter tubes and you'll have to
fish the high elevation streams to catch trout. The water in the lower elevations of the Smokies is
already so warm the trout are stressed out. Well, I'm stretching the truth a little maybe, but there's
no shortage of hyperbole when it comes to fishing.
Okay, I will be a little more accurate. The Winter heat wave will continue for at least another week
although there's still almost a month of Winter left. It did snow Sunday night but the ground was
so warm you could walk around the yard barefooted and your head would be the only thing cold -
and that was only if your head was bald.
Good News Part One:
Now, I'll get real and be as accurate as the National Weather Service. For Gatlinburg, today's
high will only be 55 and it will be windy. Wednesday will reach 61 and the wind will continue to
blow with gust up to 35 mph. A slight chance of rain will return for Wednesday night with the low
going down only to around 47 degrees. A small chance of rain will continue for Thursday with the
high reaching 64 degrees. Accuweather says it will reach 68 degrees. Thursday night there's a
60% chance of rain. Friday's high will be a little cooler (54) with a 40% chance of rain. Friday
night's weather calls for another chance of rain and snow but it's only going down to about 30
The weekend forecast isn't so great even though it's closer to normal than it has been during
the entire month of February. Saturday's high should reach 47 with a slight chance of snow
showers. Sunday's high should reach 55 but will be slow recovering from Saturday night's low of
27. I don't think the cold front will have much effect, if any, on the fishing opportunities
but you may not be as nice and warm as you prefer to be.
Unlike what some fly shop stricken bodies that never fish the park but are perfectly willing to
preach phoney daily sermons contend, your success at fly fishing for trout isn't controlled by and
certainly isn't in direct proportion to water temperature. The same thing goes for phoney fishing
gauges. If fishing was that stereotyped and simple, I would never set foot on or in the
You need to pay close attention to the long range forecast. If it's right, you will see people
wearing shorts next week and I'm not kidding this time. For Tuesday, February 28th, 62 degrees,
Wen. 66, Thur. March the first, my birthday, 67 (the temperature, close, but not my age), and
warm Springlike temperatures remaining within a degree of that all the way through March 5th. If
you believe in long range weather forecast, you can't go wrong planning your fly fishing trip
to the Smokies during this time. There will be some lucky Spring Breakers.
Good News Part Two:
If the forecast is correct and they are forecasting little rainfall accumulation, stream levels should
remain reasonably stable and although caution should always be used, it appears they can be
waded through the first week of March. I do admit, I'm a little skeptical of the stream level forecast.
That can change in a heartbeat.
For today through tomorrow (Wednesday) multiple hatches should continue to occur. You will
have to be careful about the windy conditions and the wind will make it a little difficult at times to
actually see the insects hatching, especially the smaller size ones.
In a nutshell and from, a very basic standpoint, you should start out in the mornings fishing
a nymph and change to an emerger/pupa or a dun/adult dry fly pattern if and when you see
something hatching. Hatches should start taking place around 1:00 to 2:00 PM. Insects you see
before then hatched the day before. If you don't find anything hatching by 2:00 to 2:30, you
should change locations. If your fishing the upper lower or middle elevations of the park, that is
highly unlikely. Most likely the problem will be choosing which of the insects hatching to imitate. I
realize the water temperatures will be down lower today but some insects should still continue to
Later in the day, when the hatches subside, switch back to the morning pattern I suggested. From
about 4:30 PM to near 7:00 PM, watch closely for mayfly egg laying and spinner falls. If Little
Black Caddis were hatching earlier in the day, watch for the egg laying activity and fish an adult
imitation of them. If you find any Little Winter or early Brown stoneflies emerging (crawling out of
the water to hatch late in the day), by all means switch to the nymph imitation of them. The same
thing goes for egg laying stoneflies. If you see them in action, switch to an adult imitation of them.
The only problem in the above strategy is it doesn't take into consideration which of the insects to
imitate prior to your seeing something hatching and even then, if you find more than one insect
hatching (likely the case), it doesn't give an order of priority. I suggest just about the same
strategy provided last week with some modifications.
Mornings until early afternoon:
If your fishing an area of a stream that's reaching a temperature of 50 degrees or better during
the afternoons, you can count on the water having high odds of having plenty of Blue Quill, BWO,
and Quill Gordon mayfly nymphs; some Little Brown Stoneflies and some Little Winter Stoneflies
nymphs (late afternoons). There should also be some to a bunch of Little Black Caddis pupae in
many areas. Of course, all of the above insects are always there at this time of the season but I'm
referring to what's available for the trout to eat, rather than what's hiding under a rock.
If you know for a fact any of these bugs hatched within the previous day or two of the particular
time you are fishing, fish the nymph/larvae that imitates that particular species during the morning
and continue until you see something hatching.
If you know that more than one of them hatched, choose an imitation of the nymph or larva in this
priority - Blue Quill, Quill Gordon, Little Black Caddis, BWO and fish it up until you see something
hatching. I'm basing that on the quantities of the insects available to the trout to eat that most
likely exist due to the previous day's activity.
If you find Quill Gordons hatching, fish an imitation of the emerging dun, or the dun, in priority to
any of the other mayflies. The hatch is easier to fish than the Blue Quills or BWOs.
Next in line would be the Blue Quills. If they are hatching (and the QGs aren't) go with an emerger
or dun pattern.
Next in priority of mayflies, if hatching, would be BWOs.
Exception: If you find the Little Black Caddis hatching, fish an imitation of the pupa first and later
the adult. Fish these in priority to everything but the Quill Gordons. If the QG hatch isn't
substantial, I would still fish the Little Black Caddis hatch.
Late In The Day:
Late in the day, depending on which of the multiple hatches listed above you may happen to
have found, fish the spinner fall and/or egg laying activity as appropriate.
If none of the above insects have hatched, laying eggs or falling on the water, fish an imitation of
the Little Brown Stonefly nymphs (size 14). They will begin to crawl out of the water to hatch late
in the afternoon and if it's cloudy, a little earlier in the afternoon.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh