09/24/12

Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
Hatching:
1.    BWOs (Little and Eastern BWOs)
2.    Little Yellow Quills
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Mahogany Duns

Most available/ Other types of food:
7.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8.    Craneflies
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Ants

Midges - In The Smokies?
I've written about my first successful encounters fishing midges several times. Memory of the
details of our first trip to fish the San Juan River in New Mexico, my first really successful trip at
catching trout on midges, is still very vivid.  I won't bore you with the details of that trip again, or the
three others we made to the San Juan River New Mexico where we fished imitations of midges
exclusively, but assuming I don't encounter a dementia problem at some point in time, I'm sure the
details of each of those four trips will always stand out in my memory.

After very little success during the first day on our first trip there, a kind gentleman took a lot of his
fishing time helping us, gave us some flies, and showed us how to rig and present them. I will
forever be grateful to him, even though I don't remember his name. The second day I managed to
catch several trout, including two wild brown trout both well over twenty inches (one was 26 inches)
on flies so small a 5X tippet wouldn't go through the eye of the hook. We stayed there for a
week and caught large trout on midges ever day. We have had about the same success every time
we returned.

During that time span of a few years (between those trips), we fished imitations of midges at many
other locations across the country and in all types of streams. Prior to that first trip, the only place
we had ever fished midges was on the Clinch River tailwater. We only managed a very few stocked
rainbows (maybe three of four) during a couple of trips there. At that time, that was the full extent
of our midge fishing experience.

After that first San Juan trip, fishing midge imitations often at other times and places, we were  
probably just about as successful as we were using any other method of fishing or any other
imitations of insects. Of course, like anything, they didn't always work so well. We were even able
to catch trout in many of the very difficult to fish Pennsylvania spring creeks that prior to that,
always gave us trouble. Getting to the important point here, although we had never (and still
haven't) seen or even heard of anyone using them in the small streams of the Smokies, our first
attempt to fish them one cold winter day proved they were also very effective in the Smokies. We
have successfully fished them in the Smokies many times since at various times of the year. We
also examined lots of kick net samples of the midges from the streams of the Smokies, which by the
way, are quite different from those of the tailwaters and spring creeks. Not only have we usually
been able to catch a few trout on midges in the Smokies, we have been able to do it on very cold
days when we may well have been the only anglers fishing the Smokies. We have done it a few
times when the water temperature was in the high thirties and several times when it was in low
forties.

Please don't misunderstand my point. I'm not professing that midge imitations are the top flies for
fishing the Smokies. Notice. I haven't even added them to the above list of insects yet. I'm only
pointing out that fish eat midges in the Smokies year-round (there are huge numbers of different
species that hatch year-round) and that you can catch trout on imitations of them if you simply fish
them. I'm also pointing out that they are go to flies when the water is very cold.

During the next few days, I'm going to write about midges and how we go about fishing imitations of
them. I hope the articles will be helpful not only for the streams of the Smokies during cold weather,
but also for fishing midge imitations in the many tailwaters and spring creeks across the country as
well as those near the Smokies.

Midges:
First of all, the term "midge" doesn't refer to just any small fly pattern. It also doesn't refer to any
tiny, very small aquatic insect. They are members of the huge order of insects known as Diptera.
That big order simply means insects with two wings. The order includes insects such as gnats,
craneflies, mosquitoes, plain house flies, deer flies and many, many other two-winged flies in
addition to midges.

Here's another important point. Although the name "midge" insinuates "small", not all midges are
small. Some of them found in tailwaters and spring creeks are quite large, as much as a half-inch,
even up to as much as an inch long. Large ones are exceptions, however, because most of them
are very, very small.

One more point before returning to midges on Wednesday, is that although they are small, what  
they lack in physical size they well make up for in quantities. I doubt you can find a mud puddle that
doesn't have some midges. Although I have no definite way of knowing, I venture to guess there's
not such a thing as a trout stream that doesn't have a population of midges.

Strategies, coming tomorrow
Copyright 2012 James Marsh