Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little and baetis BWOs)
Most available/ Other types of food:
3. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - Which Flies to Use - Coming Week
Foods Available At This Time of the Year:
Notice that I have dropped some insects from the above list of foods the trout should be eating during the
coming days. The list is as low as it will ever get.
Although it appears there isn't much food for the trout to eat, keep in mind that the category of Blue-winged
Olives consist of several different species of mayflies called Blue-winged Olives. Most of the time there are
more than one species of them emerging or exposed to the trout about to emerge. There are also plenty of
midge hatches that will take place during the coming days.
The streams are actually full of aquatic insects. Within two more months, the streams of the Smokies will have
its maximum supply of aquatic insect food. All of the nymphs and larvae will be approaching their fully grown
size. As always, the key to it lies in what's available for the trout to eat and what is easiest for them
to acquire. Matching those larvae, nymphs and emerging insects with a fly will provide one the highest odds
Why I Emphasise The BWO's:
As I have written often, most of the mayfly and all of the stonefly nymphs are clingers that stay down between
and underneath the rocks on the bottom. The nymphs expose themselves to eat very little during the winter
and often when they do, they are still well out of the reach of the trout. The key foods at this time of the
year are the swimming nymphs and a few crawler nymphs. Other than BWOs, the swimming nymphs
are mostly Slate Drakes. Slate Drake nymphs are much like little minnows and can stay hidden and escape
the trout fairly easily. Most of the caddisfly larvae are cased. To some extend, depending on the species, the
caes gives the larvae some protection from the trout.
Beginning in late February or early March, things will start to change fast. As the water begins to warm, the
aquatic insect hatches will begin. This starts the life cycle of most all of them all over again. By April and May,
the water will be quite warm, the trout very active, and there will be plenty of food available and easy for them
From looking at the precipitation map and USGS Stream flow data this morning, it appears the Great Smoky
Mountains received the ideal amount of rainfall. The streams are all higher but they all can be waded. I was a
little concerned that too much rainfall would occur, but I don't think the rainfall amounts affected the brown or
brook trout eggs, or the fry in any negative way. My guess is it helped the survival rate of both the eggs and
As long as there is a little stain or color to the water I would use a streamer. That will probably only be today
for it shouldn't take long for the streams to become completely clear again I would also use a streamer
during the times we have very low light conditions. That would be early in the mornings, very late in the day
near dark, or when it is very overcast, cloudy or raining. I would use realistic imitations of sculpin or dace.
Other than using streamers under the above conditions, 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. Hatches will only take place when the water temperature is in the middle to the high forties or low
fifties. If it is below forty-five degrees, keep the BWO nymph or a midge larva very near or right on the bottom.
The only change in flies I would make all day would be due to something hatching. If you see any
Blue-winged Olives hatching (there could be two or three different species called BWOs hatching at this
time), switch to a Blue-winged Olive emerger or dun of the closest size to the naturals. If you see significant
hatches of midges, switch to a midge pupa size 22. The cream color would be the best match.
Most of the time this coming week, the water is going to be cold, probably below 45 degrees. Fish slow
moving water only in areas deeper than you can see the bottom. If you catch one on the bottom of deeper
water, most likely there are more in the same type of water in other areas as well as that same location. You
will need to put the fly right in front of the trout holding out of the current. This is usually the deeper holes.
The trout will not be holding in current of any appreciable amount. You will have to slow down everything and
concentrate on feeling the nymph.
Links to the flies I suggest are under the "Flies you need now" links.
If you follow this strategy, you should be able to catch plenty of trout during the next few days.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh