12/04/12

Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
Hatching:
1.    BWOs (Little and baetis BWOs)
2.    Little Yellow Quills
3.    Needle Stoneflies
4.    Midges

Most available/ Other types of food:
5.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
6.    Craneflies (larvae)


Fly Fishing Strategies - Flies To Use - Coming Week
Before I get started with strategies, in talking to several anglers recently, I noticed some of them got the hatch
times exactly backwards for this time of the year.  Some tend to think the warmer than normal water
temperatures will cause more aquatic insects to hatch. That's true during the Spring but not during the Fall.

Aquatic insects hatch when the water temperature drops down into the ideal range for the particular insect to
hatch. To be more specific and focus on the main group of insects that should be hatching at this time of the
year, let me take the huge category of Blue-winged Olives, as an example. Most of the insects in this huge
group hatch when the water temperature is ranging from about 45 to 50 degrees. If it ranges from 50 to 55
degrees, for example, it would tend to delay the hatches rather than speed them up.

By far, the most important groups of aquatic insects at this particular time of the year are the Blue-winged
Olives and Midges. I still have Little Yellow Stoneflies and Needle Stoneflies on the above list and if any
nymphs are still remaining to hatch, you can be fairly certain they will finish their cycle this coming week.
These species exist mostly in the mid to high elevation streams. My guess is 90% of them have already
hatched for the year.

During this warming trend, you should find the trout about as opportunistic as they ever get. The warmer
water will increase their need for food and they will actually have a more difficult time finding it than they
would. I don't think you can expect to see any significant hatches of anything. By tomorrow, two things will
happen that will help. One is the skies should be overcast or cloudy most of the time. This should increase
the BWO hatches. The other is the air and water temperatures will drop some, meaning it won't be as warm
as it was yesterday and today. That too, should help bring about more hatches.

Please keep this in mind. When I'm referring to hatches, I'm not referring to them in the sense that it's
necessary for the insects to actually emerge on the surface of the water to be a factor. Although that would
help the dry fly fishing, the actual emergence of the insects isn't necessary as far as it helping one catch
trout on imitations of the nymphs. Insects that are about to hatch (within a week or two of emerging into
adults) are far easier for the trout to acquire than insects that are hidden. A simple way to put this is those
insects that are getting close to the time they emerge are sitting ducks to the trout. The food isn't hidden in
the trout's kitchen cabinets. It's on the dining table. Put even more directly, hatches greatly improves nymph
fishing. I don't know of anything in fly fishing for trout that is more misunderstood than this.

I don't have any idea as to how much rain we will get tonight and tomorrow. I don't think it will be significant,
but you never know for sure. I found little information on the expected rainfall amounts for the Smokies. More
information should be available later today. I do think it may rain enough to provide a good opportunity for
one to catch some trout on a streamer. Both the low light conditions and possible stain to the water would be
a big help.

The low level of the water in the streams is making it much more difficult for most anglers to catch
trout, for two simple reasons.
1. The low water level makes the trout more cautious and easier for them to spot anglers. Staying hidden
becomes even more important than it normally is.
2. Low water means slower moving water. This means the trout get a much better view of your fake insects or
flies. Using better imitations of the real insects becomes even more important. In other words, the generic and
attractor flies that work fairly well in fast water won't perform for you. I don't just mean dry flies. Trout can see
your nymphs far better than your dry flies. Your nymph should imitate the naturals, in this case little, skinny,
swimming, Blue-winged Olive nymphs.

If the light level is low, and for sure after it rains, I suggest you use a streamer. With the fish just entering their
post-spawn period, the odds for catching a larger size brown trout are good. This doesn't mean the rainbows
won't fall for streamers just as well. I think sculpin imitations are the best choice, although others that imitate
baifish and minnows may be effective.

Other than streamers, I would begin with and stay with a hook size 18 or 16 Blue-winged Olive nymph.
Remember, these little nymphs won't be holding in fast water. They hold and hatch in slow to moderate flows.
This can be very near fast water. Fish the slower side of current seams, not the fast side.

The only change in flies I would make all day would be due to something hatching. If you see either size BWO
hatching (there could be two or three different species called BWOs hatching at this time), switch to a
Blue-winged Olive emerger or dun.

If you follow this strategy, you should be able to catch plenty of trout during the next few days. Just tying on
the flies I suggest isn't the key to it.
The flies must be presented in the right areas of the streams
without the trout being able to spot you. They must also be presented in a manner that imitates
the behavior of the naturals.

I can't possible cover the details of how you go about doing that in this article.



For anyone interested, here is last year's strategy article for this same period of time:
The stream levels quickly tell the story of what's happening in the Smokies. Little River rose to over
4,000 cfs last night (over 6 feet in height) but is on the way back down. In case that doesn't mean
much to you, I'll put it this way. Little River and all the other major streams in the park are blown out.
The higher elevations in the park received from 2.5 to 4 inches of rain.

The very high water levels will fall rather fast from their extreme high levels but overall, the decline  
will be slow because of the large amount of rain we have received during the last few weeks. It will be
a while before the streams can be safely waded. We will have great weather for the next couple of
days for blue-winged olive hatches but the high water situation makes the sky and weather conditions
irrelevant.

There are ways to fish the streams right now, even with the high water levels. Trout can still be
caught along the banks fishing from the banks on a fly rod. The technique is more like flipping for
bass than fly fishing. In fact, in situations like this anglers have taken some nice brown trout casting
streamers along the banks. If you live near the Smokies and want to fish, there are ways it can be
done. If you don't live nearby and want to visit the park to fish, you should reconsider.  I am going to
delay the Strategy Article a day or two until the water levels recede some.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh