Hatches Made Easy:
Order: Cottidae, Genus: Cottus
Sculphins are not minnows but a group of fish. They are a major food source fro
the trout in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are strictly bottom
dwellers that hide in the rocks. They are found in riffles as well as the slower
moving water of pools. They provide a substantial meal for the trout, especially
the larger ones. When brown trout get big they cease feeding on aquatic insects
to a certain extent and rely more on crustaceans, baitfish and sculphins.
Sculphins are camouflaged to the point they are very difficult to see, especially if
you or the trout are looking for them when they are lying still on the bottom.
They survive their predators the most of which are trout with their camouflaged
colors. They just blend in with the rocks. In fact, their color changes to match
their environment. We have caught them in our nets when we could not see
them in the water at all.
Sculphins move around on the bottom using erratic motions. They dart from one
rock to another. Their quickness helps them survive the predators the majority
of which are the trout.
Colors vary greatly but most of them have mixtures of tan, brown, and green or
olive. They can range from as small as a quarter of an inch long up to three or
four inches long.
Various fly patterns have been developed for the sculphin several of which are
good ones. We think one of the best is our own "Perfect Fly" pattern:
The way in which they are fished is critical. They shouldn't be swung dead drift
through the current. They should move in quick, darting motions right on the
bottom. They biggest mistake made is fishing the fly too fast. If you are fishing
runs and riffles, it is difficult not to fish the fly too fast.
I think the best method is the "high stickin" method commonly used in the
Smokies that I have detailed before. If you weight the fly heavily and keep line
contact with it, you can keep it on the bottom much better than you can if you
cast the fly and allow it to dead drift with the current.
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Copyright 2008 James Marsh