Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little)
2. Cream Cahills
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
4. Slate Drakes
5. Little Green Stoneflies
6. Mahogany Duns
Most available/ Other types of food:
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8. Inch Worm (moth larva)
Strategy For This Coming Week
Not that it will or should have any bearing on the strategy I recommend, I was able to get on the
water for a short time yesterday afternoon. As usual, rather than concentrating on seeing how
many trout I could catch, I skipped around and fished several different locations although all of
them were on the Little Pigeon River, its upper tributary Walkers Camp Prong, and Little River. It
was very cloudy at times and there was bright sunshine at times as the clouds seem to shift around
rather fast. I stopped at two places on WC and managed only two very small rainbows. I'm sure that
was because I didn't take the time to get away from areas of immediate road access.
The area above the Chimneys Picnic area produced a very nice size brook trout and one rainbow.
I only fished a very short stretch there because it takes a ton of effort to continue upstream very
far. A stop in the lower section of Little Pigeon a couple of miles above the headquarters didn't
produce anything even though the water was in the mid sixties.
I made two stops on Little River, one not far below the campground at Elkmont and one just
downstream from the turn. That produced one eleven inch brown trout that took my hook size 18
BWO dun. These trout were caught over a three hour period of time but most of it was spent
driving and getting in and out to fish. I probably didn't actually fish much over 30 or 40 minutes. I
didn't follow the strategy I will offer to catch the most trout. I fished a dry fly rather than a BWO
nymph. I feel very confident the nymph would have produced better results.
I spotted lots of very small BWOs at one of the stops on Little River but nothing of any substance
on the Little Pigeon. I'm sure that was mostly due to timing. It was too late for hatches and too early
for spinner falls.
Keep in mind that although I am providing details on the short trip, it is worthless insofar as using
the results of my trip for anything. It took place in a very short time span at several spots using the
same dry fly. It certainly shouldn't be used as a strategy in so far as how, when and where anyone
should fish. The same thing is true of any other fishing report. The absolute worst strategy you can
possible use is to try to copy the results of someone's else's trip. Conditions constantly change
with time and can change as rapid as very few minutes; and the catch results on any stream can
and usually changes within a matter of feet if not inches. If such a fishing report was used as a
strategy by someone, it would be comparable to basing a political election poll from the results of
one and only one voter. I'm going to show last year's strategy I provided for this same week. The
strategy I recommend is the same as last years recommendations.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
Last Year's Strategy:
Some General Notes:
The most available foods are the aquatic insects. The sculpin, minnow and baitfish are plentiful but they are
not the easiest to acquire. They are also more difficult to imitate. You need to fish the imitating streamers in
low light conditions, like early and late in the day or during heavy cloud cover. The terrestrials are plentiful (on
land) but not in the water. You should focus on them after or during windy times or after heavy rain where
water may wash them into the streams. An exception is when you see lots of moth larvae (green worms or
larvae) hanging from trees over the water that eventually fall into the water.
Now lets look at the Summer hatch chart for the Smokies: Weather conditions are normal for August. If
weather conditions were not normal, and it was unusually cooler or warmer, things could be a week or two off
schedule, but things are normal. You should always keep that in mind when using a hatch chart and
especially in the Winter, Spring and Fall months.
Now, stop and think about this. Most of the aquatic insects have already hatched this year. The Quill Gordons,
March Browns, Blue Quills, Hendricksons, Little Brown stoneflies, Winter stoneflies etc and many other
aquatic insects., have already hatched and are either eggs or tiny nymphs that are mostly well hidden. The
remaining aquatic insects that are grown and in the water at this time of year are those listed above along
with the Little Yellow Quills, Needle Stoneflies, Great Autumn Brown Caddis, and a few minor species of
caddisflies and insects that are not plentiful. These insects that are not yet hatching, are well hidden,
especially the Little Yellow Quills and Stoneflies which are clinger nymphs.
Of the 6 aquatic insects listed as hatching, notice the Mahogany duns are just starting to hatch and are not in
their prime hatch period of time, although they may be hatching. This lowers the odds of them being a key
insect this week. Fish imitations of them ONLY if you see the insects hatching.
Notice the Cream Cahills are at the very end of their hatch time. Those likely remaining will be in the high
elevations, or brook trout streams. In fact, two weeks ago they were plentiful but most likely now, they are not.
This lowers your odds. Fish imitations of them ONLY if you see them hatching.
The Little Yellow Stoneflies, are not Yellow Sallies as such. They are Summer Stones which are very, very
similar. They are slightly shorter and stocky but behave the same as Yellow Sallies and look almost the
same. I mention this only because the hatch chart separates them. Our Little Yellow Stonefly Perfect Fly
imitations are the same for both types. These stoneflies are hatching now but keep in mind, these hatch over
a long period of time and are hit and miss. If they are hatching, you will see some egg layers near dark. If you
see some one day, fish the nymph the next day beginning at about 7 PM. When you see egg laying activity
start, swap to the adult imitation for the most fun, or continue fishing the nymph for more fish. Remember, this
is hit or miss depending where your fishing. I give your chances of finding them only about twenty percent or
two out of ten days. If you don't see them, don't fish imitations of them.
The Little Green Stoneflies are hatching but mostly at the ends of pools and in the mid elevations. It's hot
now and if your high on the brook trout streams your odds are very low you will see any. At mid elevations (I'm
omitting low elevations due to the heat) your odds are still only about twenty percent. You may confuse these
with Yellow Sallies because some are yellow/green and difficult to tell apart as adults. Follow the same
strategy as with the Little Yellow Stoneflies that I provided above, fishing them only if you see them. Again,
only very late in the day.
You should also review previous info about stoneflies. I'm not going into detail about how to fish the hatch,
The Slate Drakes are in the middle of their hatch period, but that's deceptive. These mayflies hatch heavily at
the beginning of the very long hatch period and again near the end of the period. It is now in the middle of the
period. Chances are low you will see them but if you do, fish the hatch. These crawl out of the water and only
nymphs and spinners are important. If you see their shucks on rocks an boulders, fish the nymph from mid
afternoon to dark. If it is raining, fish the nymph anytime the water is coming down, morning or afternoon. Fish
the spinner right near dark and only if you see egg layers. Right now the odds are low you will see any. I'd say
only one out of ten chances at the most. However, the nymphs (about half of them) that haven't yet hatched
are in the water. These are swimmer nymphs that don't hide well. These are not plentiful at the high elevation,
but mostly mid elevations. Remember the low elevations are too warm to fish. The bottom line is the nymph
is a good fly to use anytime of the day, where they are hatching or not; however, I rank it second to the BWOs,
coming up next.
We are down to Blue-winged Olives on the aquatics. Notice on the hatch chart, these are Little Blue-winged
olives and include several species. These are size 18 at the largest and mostly size 20 with some males
even a 22. Use the size 20 or 18 only if you have to. I want bore you with species and specifics but there's
several species of them. These will most likely be hatching wherever you are. They are even in the high
elevation brook trout streams but vary greatly, depending on the stream. You may even mistake some
species for midges.
In the early mornings and late afternoons they are easy to spot. Some spinner falls take place in the early
morning. When the males are dancing up and down or when they are mating about head high or higher
above the water, they are easier to spot. That's proof of the hatches, but you don't need it. They will be
hatching in most of the areas you fish and is your number one nymph to fish. Remember, this includes
several species, some of which are bi-brooded. These are mostly swimmer nymphs which don't hide well
from the trout. Some are crawler nymphs and they don't hide well. The baetis species, size 16 and 18, are not
hatching and will not hatch again until October, but the nymphs are in most streams available for the trout to
eat, especially the mid-elevations. When your fishing a BWO nymph, your also imitating them.
The BWO nymph, emerger or dun when they are hatching, should be the number one flies you should use. It
will catch trout and it will even catch large trout, so don't let the small fly size fool you. It is best fished free-
lined with a little added weight, or by high stickin it with weight, but quite frankly, most anglers cannot manage
this type of fishing without lots of practice. You can also use the Czech method of nymphing with two flies. It's
difficult to detect strikes using either of these three methods but they are the most effective ways to fish the
nymph, but provided you are experienced at fishing nymphs without strike indicators or dropped from dry flies
used as indicators. If not, use a strike indicator, or better at this time of year, a beetle or hopper dry fly as an
indicator. Drop the nymph below our Japanese Beetle, hook size 14, or our Sandwich Hopper, size 10 or 12.
When these little mayflies start to hatch, and this is usually from 1 to 6 P M, depending on the species, shade
and cloud cover (earlier in the brook trout streams), change to an emerger or dun pattern.
Start the day out with a streamer, provided your fishing early before much light hits the water. If not, start the
day with one of the above rigs using the BWO nymph and don't change it. You will catch fish. If you don't, your
doing something bad wrong. You may try changing locations but don't change strategies unless you see
evidence that one of the insects are hatching or under the conditions as follows.
If it gets windy, or if a thunderstorm moves though with wind and rain, and your not doing well otherwise, go to
the terrestrials. If it stays calm, stay with the BWO nymph, that is of course, you see one of the other above
insects hatching. If you do, switch to imitations of that insect. If you don't, don't change flies. Stay with the BWO
nymph or as a backup, you can try the Slate Drake Nymph, but only if your going nuts from not changing flies.
An exception you might try is that if your fishing an area with lots of grass (mostly out in the open areas not
under heavy tree cover) on the banks and your kicking up hoppers, you may want to try fishing the banks with
a hopper. Unlike what many of you may think, this works far better in the middle of the day in direct sunlight,
not in the shade. I only recommend the hopper in the Smokies under the windy conditions as mentioned
above and then only around grass.
If it gets windy or it's after a rain, or if you find water draining back into a stream, fish an ant imitation. If you
don't like fishing the wet ant without an indicator, try our Japanese Beetle with the regular wet Perfect Fly Ant
as a dropper.
If your in the woods where there's little grass, use the Japanese Beetle. It's a dry fly and works great, even on
the brook trout. Use a size 16 for the brookies and the 14 at the mid elevations. Again, keep in mind, this is
only if wind or rain is present or recently occurred. It's not that these flies won't work anytime. It's just that the
BWO nymph will give you higher odds. The problem is many of you rather fish a dry fly than a nymph. I'm trying
to give you your highest odds for catching the most trout. If you want to change, by all means do. I find myself
fishing the dry fly most of the time. I just want you to know what your best odds are.
If you see any trout hitting the surface, use the Perfect Fly Carpenter ant. The woods are full of them. They are
thousands if not millions around my house at this time and I'm less than a mile from the Spur.
You can also drop our Perfect Fly Inch Worm (Green Weenie type fly but better) from either one of our
Sandwich Hoppers or our large size Japanese Beetle. You can also fish it with a split shot free-lined but I only
recommend that if you find moth larvae (inch worms) in the trees.
Remember, this strategy isn't exactly easy to follow until you build confidence, but for your highest odds, stick
with the BWO nymph until you see evidence of insects hatching, or unless the wind/rain situation given above
takes place. Even then, if something is hatching, I would not go with the terrestrials. I would go with imitations
of the hatching insect.