Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Eastern)
2. Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
3. Cinnamon Caddis (Mostly Abrams Creek)
4. Cream Cahills
5. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
7. Slate Drakes
8. Little Green Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
10. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
11. Inch Worm (moth larva)
Fishing Low Water Levels - Part 2
I was going to get into how the trout see your flies today but there are some other points I
wanted to make about the trout seeing you and how to avoid that. I'll also try to give you a
better way to determine whether or not a trout can see you.
The number one problem in fishing low, clear water is staying hidden from the trout. If you let
the fish see you, it's going to be next to impossible to get them to eat your fly. So before I get
into flies, here are some more thoughts.
My article of yesterday pointed out that fish see everything outside of the water through a
circular window the diameter of which is just over two times the depth of the fish. It explained
that the trout's vision of anglers, and everything else, near the edge of the window are
greatly distorted and blurred. If you are standing straight over a trout, it will have a clear,
undistorted view of you. Since a trout doesn't care if your a human, bear, blue heron or a
ghost, if you move, you will spook the trout. It doesn't matter that the trout views you twice as
wide as you are high. It's the movement of an angler that triggers the trout's reaction.
The boulders the trout are used to seeing, don't move. The trees move very little, if any.
In most cases, the only way you can approach them without being seen is to stay below the
lowest line of sight they have from their window of vision. Without getting into physics and
math calculations, let me say that if your thirty feet from the trout and standing level with the
surface of the water, the trout can see any part of your body over 5 feet, three inches high.
If your wading waist deep, and the trout doesn't see your legs or hear you underwater, only
the portion of your body that's above the surface counts. In the scenario just presented, the
trout wouldn't be able to see you. If you get within 15 feet of the trout you have to be below 2
feet, seven and three-quarters inches in height. Most of us can't get that close because it's
difficult to get that low on our knees. Angie can, but I can't.
If your wading, it becomes much easier to stay below that height above the water but unless
the trout is pointing in the exact opposite direction or you, your getting very close to the point
the trout will see your legs below the water.
Other things affect the extent the trout can detect your presence. If you contrast very much
with the background view the trout has of you, you are far more noticeable to the trout. If you
blend in with the background view the trout gets of you, you are far less noticeable. At this
time of the year, when everything is green, you wouldn't want to wear a white hat, or a bright
yellow shirt. Actually, that wouldn't be smart even if your were fishing in the winter months
when everything is shades of gray. Dress the same way you would if you were hunting.
Camouflage clothing would be ideal although you wouldn't make the cover of the
next fly fishing magazine. On second thought, maybe that would be different enough that
you would. Magazines need all the help they can get.
I almost forgot about casting. How do you keep your fly rod below those levels during a cast?
Even worse than being a still image the trout can see, the rod has to move to make a cast.
The solution to it is simple. Make a side armed cast.
There's an even better solution to the staying hidden problem. Most of the streams in the
Smokies have boulders, many of which are large enough for you to hide behind. If the
stream has boulders, use them to your advantage and always plan your approach to where
you remain and end up behind one, out of the trout's view. Again, try to avoid overhead cast.
Here's another tip many local anglers may snub their noses at but that would be very helpful.
Drive up to Pennsylvania and fish some of the many spring creeks. Avoid the fast water
riffles and runs. Fish the slow moving, clear meadow spring creeks. Once you learn to catch
the brown trout from those streams, you won't have any trouble fishing low, clear water in the
Smokies. By the way, its also a good way to learn just when and how the trout can see you.
You can actually see them when you spook them. You will easily learn when your visible to
the trout and when your not.
Many think the trout all gather up under the riffles where they are invisible to overhead
predators. I pointed out yesterday that the riffles or broken surface of the water distorts the
trout's view through their window of vision of things above the water. It helps also because
the distrubed surface of the water help conceal your movements. The trout have to
distinguish the movements of everything else through the surface as well as you.
Some trout may hold in the riffles because there's more dissolved oxygen available but that's
usually only when the water is very marginal, temperature wise. If the water temperature
is in the mid sixties or less, they won't be there for that reason. Your making a big
mistake to think that when it's hot weather, all the trout run and hide in the riffles. That's just
not the case. The dissolved oxygen the riffles add to the water doesn't just stay in that one
area of the stream. That's not the major factor that determines the location of the
trout. That's determined by the most available and most plentiful food.
If disturbed, the rainbows and brook trout will often flee and hide under the riffles, or if
certain insects are hatching in the riffles, they may be there to eat. The larger brown trout will
be hidden in their normal places, under rocks, boulders, banks, etc., and rarely hold in the
riffles. The small browns may be there, but not the large ones unless there is very low light
There's a lot more to fishing low, clear water than what I've written about so far. You also
have to conceal your fly line, leader and tippet. You should also be using more realistic flies,
especially where the water is flowing slower and with low water, it always flows slower than
normal. I'll get into this tomorrow. If you fish the Smokies anytime in the next few days, your
odds of dealing with low, clear water are very high. If you handle it right and if all the other
variables are the same, you should be able to catch just about as many trout under these
low water conditions as you could at other water levels.
The single largest reason most anglers catch the few trout they catch in the riffles
in hot weather, isn't the fact most of the trout are holding there. It's that
everywhere else, the slower moving water gives the trout a better opportunity to
view their flies.
When the water is flowing slow and clear, the generic, match any and everything
flies simply don't work well anywhere else.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh