Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives and Little BWOs
2. Blue Quills
3. Cinnamon Caddis (Mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Little Short Horned Sedges
5. Eastern Green Drakes (Abrams Creek)
6. Hendricksons & Red Quills
7. American March Browns
Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Fly To Use - Part 38
I don't want this to read like a "I told you so", but it does look like the folks at AccuWeather
knew what they were doing when they forecast the much cooler weather we are now
experiencing as far ahead as two weeks ago. Twice, i linked their long range forecast for the
month of April because it seemed so strange at the time. We were experiencing high
temperatures in the low eighties for several days at the time and it didn't seem right that we
would be looking at highs in the sixties two or three weeks later. As strange as it seemed at the
time, the much cooler temperatures they forecast are normal for the middle of April.
It isn't just the Smokies the strange weather is affecting. The entire nation has been affected. I
get several email request a day for fly suggestions for streams across the nation and most all
of them let me know it has been unseasonably warm. Now that the weather is changing back to
more normal conditions, the big question is how the change is going to affect the aquatic
insects. It almost seems like it will cause a lag in the hatches but on closer analysis, it is
obvious the warm weather progressed the development of all the insects in their larva stage of
life. It is going to be very interesting to see if the hatches return to their normal schedule or
remain early throughout the Spring. We may see insects hatching in colder water than they
normally hatch in.
I went fishing for a short time yesterday (about 30 minutes was enough) and although I
managed to catch a couple of rainbows, one of which was a very nice one, it took half an hour
of fighting very strong, variable winds. At times my dry fly wanted to come back and hit me in
the face. The trout took the March Brown Dun when I managed to get it in the right place but
that wasn't easy. I spooked more than I caught for sure. My fly line landed all over the stream
as if I was trying to scare the trout instead of catch them. The water in the Little Pigeon River
was still high and wading was tough to impossible in places.
The cooler water temperatures should help restore the fishing in the lower elevations to more
normal conditions for this time of the year. Last week I wrote that Multiple hatches are
causing multiple problems for anglers at this particular time. I don't think that will be a
major problem in the coming week but it may. Most of the insects that started hatching
will continue to hatch. Those that did not hatch well upstream of those that were hatching
should be delayed by the cooler weather. What is hatching will depend on the elevation
even more than it normally does. According to the weather forecast, this cool spell we are
going to experience isn't temporary. It will remain in effect (actually be normal) for the rest of
the month of April. The high temperatures will range from the high sixties up to eighty degrees
in Gatlinburg for the entire month. That's normal and that's good.
Weather and Stream Level Outlook:
Today's high will be 68 but only 56 tomorrow. There is a freeze warning for tomorrow night with
a low of 32. The highs will gradually increase from 62 on Thursday, to 68 Friday, 75 Saturday
and 79 on Sunday. Next Monday and Tuesday will remain nice and warm but then a slight
cooling tend will return. There is no rain in the forecast the entire week. All in all, from a
weather standpoint, it's a great forecast for fishing. The stream levels will continue to drop and
that too, is great.
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. Most hatches should start
taking place around 1:00 to 3:00 PM and again, the hatches will depend greatly on the
elevation of the stream your fishing. Later in the day, when the hatches subside, switch back
to the morning pattern. From about 4:30 PM to near 7:30 PM, watch closely for mayfly egg
laying and spinner falls.
I haven't been doing a good job of explaining this. By fishing a nymph or dry fly, I don't
mean just any nymph or any dry fly. I am referring to nymphs and dry flies that
specifically match the insects that I list below. This will increase your odds of success
over the "match anything" generic flies.
From the mid elevations and up, there's still some odds of having Blue Quills and some size 18
Blue-winged Olive hatches. There may also be some Little BWOs hatching in the lower and
middle elevations. These would be hook size 20. Neither of these sizes will hatch in large
Hendrickson/Red Quills are hatching. This could be a very good week for them. Remember,
they generally don't hatch in the higher elevation, or where the stream gradients are
steep..They are more of a pool and slack water insect. They are concentrated, but only in
isolated areas of the streams. If you find them, it would be the top priority.
Little Short-horned Sedges are hatching but like the Hendrickson/Red Quill mayflies, they are
concentrated but only in isolated areas of the streams.
March Browns are showing up everywhere but remember that they hatch a few here and there
and throughout much of the day. They are not usually concentrated at any one point in time.
That doesn't mean they aren't important insects to imitate. It just means that you cannot expect
to see heavy hatches taking place. If they are hatching, you can expect some rather heavy
spinner falls to occur near dark because the spinner falls are concentrated into a short time of
usually less than an hour. A March Brown Dun imitation would provide good odds in the
afternoon. The March Brown Spinner imitation would provide great odds very late in the day.
Little Yellow Stonefly hatches have been reported. I have yet to see any but if you happen to
be at the right elevation, you will likely see some this coming week. Remember, they both start
to hatch (crawl out of the water) very late in the day and deposit their eggs late in the day.
Which nymph/larva imitation to fish?
If you know for a fact any of the above insects hatched within the previous day or two of the
particular time you are fishing, fish the nymph or larva fly that imitates that particular species
during the mornings and continue to do so until you see it or another insect hatching.
If you know that more than one insect hatched, choose an imitation of the nymph or larva in
this priority - Hendrickson/RQ, BWO, March Brown, and fish it up until you see something
hatching. I'm basing this on the availability of the insects for the trout to eat that most likely
exist based on the previous day's activity.
Which Fly to use During Hatches?
If you find Hendricksons/RQ hatching, fish an imitation of the emerging dun, or the dun, in
priority to any of the other insects. Next in priority are the Little Short-horned Sedges. If they
are hatching, fish an imitation of the pupa. Next in line would be the March Browns. The
hatches are easier to fish than the BWOs.
Which Fly to use Late In The Day:
Late in the day, depending on which of the hatches listed above you may happen to have
found, fish the spinner fall and/or egg laying activity as appropriate. By all means, if you
noticed a Hendrickson/Red Quill hatch, fish the spinner fall. March Browns will likely fall.
Don't make the mistake of thinking just because several insects or hatching, the particular fly
you use isn't important. The facts are, it's exactly the opposite situation.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh