Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little and baetis BWOs)
2. Little Yellow Quills
3. Slate Drakes
4. Needle Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
5. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use - Part Two
The key is to imitate the insects and or other food that's most available and easiest for the trout to
As I always do, I'm showing last year's strategy article for this same time. The first paragraph was
taken from an article two days prior to this date last year. As you can see, we had entirely different
Last Year's Weather:
i noticed that snow was reported at Mount LeConte from the recent weather front. I mentioned in my article of just
two days ago that I expected that would happen. I'm sure the temperatures are cold up there because I just
walked outside (in the dark) to see plenty of frost glowing on the bushes and ground from our porch lights here in
Last Years' Strategy:
Notice the Little River real-time stream reports is showing a much slower drop than it has after the past few times
it has rained. That indicates the longer, slower rainfall of this week didn't run off as quickly as in the past. Maybe
the cooler air hasn't evaporated the water as fast as it has been during the much warmer temperatures. I also
suspect the ground water is getting in better shape.
Yesterday was the first time in about a week that I've been able to spend any time on the water and that was only
for about two hours. That consumed a half day of time traveling to and from the North Carolina side of the park.
Keep in mind, spending time on the water is of little to no benefit in so far as determining the best strategy. Unless
stream and weather conditions vary greatly from what is normal, the basic strategy shouldn't change from that of
the past few weeks.
By the way, that's why I don't do fishing reports as such. What I or anyone else does at any given time at any given
location shouldn't affect the strategy anyone else should use. That's the single biggest mistake made by anglers.
To make it as simple as simple can be, trying to copy what someone else did is a huge mistake. There are
dozens of reasons as to why it's a huge mistake. I've written about many of them in previous articles. It's as stupid
as copying a total stranger's income tax return.
I do know from previous years of studying the food that's in the streams of the Smokies extensively, there wouldn't
be any significant changes in the food that's listed above. The primary food that's available for the trout doesn't
change. The order of the aquatic insect hatches never changes. The timing of the hatches varies with the
weather and stream conditions, but not the order. The other foods, crustaceans, baitfish, sculpin, etc., don't
At this time of year, the overall numbers of aquatic insect that hatch picks up from that of the hot summer because
of the lower water temperatures. Those insects that hatch during the Fall, including several species of mayflies
called Blue-winged Olives, Slate Drakes, Little Yellow Quills, Needle Stoneflies and Great Autumn Brown Sedges,
come into play when the water temperature drops down into the fifties and occur off and on depending on the
location and changes in the weather. This continues periodically until the water temperature drops into the mid to
low forties. When that happens, the only thing that hatches of interest to anglers are midges.
I found three different mayflies called BWOs hatching on the Oconaluftee River yesterday afternoon. There were a
few Fall baetis, a very few larger Drunella Eastern BWOs, and a few very small, what appeared to be, Acentrella
species. These were all sparse hatches and for a good reason. The sky was bright blue without a cloud in
sight. I say that and one reason I chose the stream I fished is because it has an almost solid overhead canopy of
tree limbs. I fished our #18 BWO emerger (CDC fly) and caught several rainbows and one small brown trout. I
didn't change flies a single time because I didn't need to. I left the stream catching trout.
Another reason I fished the Oconaluftee was that I was hoping to spot a large brown on its way upstream to spawn
but that didn't happen. I did spook one larger size brown that I failed to spot beforehand. That one shot out from
under a bank.
I was curious as to whether or not any had were actually on their redds but I didn't spot any brown trout holding on
redds; however, I only stopped to look at three areas along the #441 highway. I feel fairly sure some have started to
spawn. By the way, don't misunderstand my intent. I will not try to catch one that's spawning. I also stopped at a
couple of places on Walkers Camp Prong where I did spot some brook trout that were spawning. I didn't fish
Walkers, just looked at the water from two pull off areas. I found spawning brook trout along Walkers a few days
ago as well.
The strategy I'm suggesting for this week and under the stream and weather conditions we currently have remains
about the same as it has been. The only difference you may notice is that you should see an increase in the hatch
activity. That doesn't mean you should see some big hatches. You won't. It also doesn't mean that because they
aren't large hatches they aren't important because they are important.
Start with a BWO nymph and change flies only when you spot something hatching. Match whatever you see
hatching but most likely, it will be one of the BWOs. The emergers are more difficult to see and fish, but by far more
productive under these conditions if you fish them correctly. I didn't see but one trout take a fly from the surface. I'm
sure you'll get action on the BWO dun imitation but again, I'm providing strategy for what I think will result in the
most success in terms of quantity of fish caught. Near sunset and under low light conditions, check the water for
spinners and change flies if you find any of them. You also may find some hatching and egg laying Fall caddis at
that time. In the higher elevations, the same thing applies to the Little Needle stoneflies and Little Yellow Quills.
Before I started fishing I spotted a very few BWOs and for that reason, I tied on an BWO emerger. I fished at two
different places along the highway for about two hours total time. I didn't see another angler on the middle or upper
sections of the Oconaluftee. I did spot a couple of vehicles that could of belonged to anglers on the Tennessee
side of the park. This is normal for this time of the year but it always amazes me. It's a beautiful time to fish and it's
usually a very rewarding time of the year to fish.
The skies will remain clear through Wednesday but showers are likely Thursday. They are showing a 70 percent
chance of rain at this time. Lows should be in the mid thirties and highs in the seventies. I don't know how
conditions could be much better.
I'm going to fish Little River before the week's over. It takes me almost two hours of time (that I'm short of right now)
to fish the North Carolina side of the park but I always enjoy doing so. I also want to fish the lower part of Little
Pigeon River in the Sugarland area. That's a good choice for rainbows at this time of the year. There's no
doubt in my mind about the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon. It would be a great choice for numbers of rainbows.
You should be able to catch plenty of brook trout anywhere they exist. If you want to search for large browns, there's
also plenty of options. In fact, I can't think of any place in the park that isn't in prime shape right now.
The Coming Week:
They have dropped the chances of rain for Saturday from 40 to 30 percent. I still think that will be
increased before the weekend is over.
Above you have last year's strategy article. There isn't the slightest difference in the insects and
other foods the trout should be eating this year. The available food doesn't change unless and
except there are long term changes in the weather patterns such as we had last Winter and
Spring. Everything has settled down into a more normal cycle for the past month of two.
Like last year, during my trips in the park last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I noticed only random,
small hatches of various species of insects we call Blue-winged Olives. All three of those days were
bright, sunny days. I only found a very few of the larger size baetis species that should begin
hatching any day. I'm positive they will be delayed for a few more days due to a coming increase in
water temperature. They need temps in the high forties and peaks in the low fifties to hatch in good
quantities. They always hatch in a sparse manner during bright, sunny days. A low pressure
system will intensify the hatches when the water temps drop and they do start to hatch.
I didn't find the first Slate Drake nymph shuck along the streams. I'm sure these mayflies will begin
to hatch in decent quantities at some point in time but hatches were obvious not taking place on
the streams I visited.
I only spotted a very few Great Autumn Brown Sedges. They are hatching but as usual, in very
We didn't fish the middle or higher elevations and I'm not sure of the status of the Little Yellow
Quills or Needle Stoneflies but they should still be hatching.
If you start out fishing early in the day and before the weekend (clear days) I suggest you use a
streamer. Brown trout are in the pre-spawn stage (some actually spawning and should be left
alone) and you may well hook a good size brown on a streamer. They get aggressive and don't like
small fish invading their territory. Fish the shallow water very early. The water is low and later when
the light hits the streams, I suggest you keep the streamer in water deep enough that your not
seeing the bottom. By the way, make sure your fishing a stream that has brown trout. Patterns that
imitate small baitfish and/or sculpin should work.
Otherwise, I suggest you start out in the morning fishing an imitation of a size 20 BWO nymph. That
size still imitates most of the available and plentiful larvae in the water at this time. I suggest
changing flies if and only if you find something hatching. There's a few very sparse hatches of
Cinnamon Caddis but other than that, it would be those insects listed above.
If your not in the mid to higher elevations, that only leaves BWOs and Slate Drakes. In that case
the Slates only show up very late in the day to hatch and for the females that have hatched from
previous day hatches to deposit their eggs.
In the mid to higher elevations it may include Little Yellow Quills and Needle Stoneflies. The LYQ's
hatch mid afternoon and the Needle Stoneflies both hatch and lay eggs late in the afternoons.
Most angler's problems are:
1. They don't approach the water the best way
2. They don't stay well hidden
3. They either beat the water to death with false cast or spook trout flashing fly line back
and forth over them.
4. They fail to make "slack-line" cast and in turn, fail to get good drag-free drifts
5. Try to cast too far
6. Change flies twenty times to often
7. Use junk, any and everything generic flies,
There's a little more to it but If you take care of these issues you will increase your catch
by 500 to a 1000 percent.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh