Freestone Streams - Part Four:
The stream’s volume of water and rate of flow is strictly dependant upon Mother
Nature. The amount of water in the stream can vary drastically with the seasons
of the year. Heavy rainfall that usually occurs in the spring months makes the
freestone streams large and turbulent and sometimes flood beyond their normal
banks. In the late summer and fall months of the year, most freestone streams
reach their lowest levels. Sometimes the flow can become so slow and the
dissolved oxygen levels so low that it become tough for trout to survive. This is
especially true in the lower sections of the streams in the foothills.
At the headwaters, most freestone mountain streams support native brook trout.
These fish are usually small, averaging from four to eight inches because they
have less space to live and less food to eat but they are also usually very
aggressive and lighting fast. Most of the time, trout found in the acidic,
headwater streams feed opportunistically. It is rare that they have enough of any
one species of food to feed on. Selective feeding times are few and far between.
The angler usually does not have to be concerned with specific patterns of flies.
Most of the time, attractor or non-specific type flies that imitate a variety of
insects will work fine. There are a few times when the trout do concentrate on a
particular insect. Little needle stoneflies, Yellow Quill mayflies and a few other
species can cause selective feeding for short periods of time in the headwater
As I am sure most of you know, rainbow and brown trout are a problem for the
native brook trout. They will compete for the same space and food. This has
forced the smaller brook trout to exist only at higher and more remote locations
than they once did. In many cases, in the middle and lower elevations of the
streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, brook trout have been
completely eliminated by the rainbow and brown trout. The park service along
with concerned anglers are working on changing this in a few streams. We will
provide more detailed information regarding this at some point in time.
Coming Up Next:
Freestone Streams - Part 5
Copyright 2008 James Marsh