Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
3. Little Winter Stoneflies
Most available/ Other types of food:
4. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
This Week's Featured Trout Food - Blue Quills - When will They Hatch?
When it comes to the timing of aquatic insect hatches (emergence), there's always a misunderstanding
among anglers as to when a hatch will begin. Many think it's all to do with the water temperature at a given
time. It isn't. Along with many other environmental factors, water temperature has an effect. In general, all
other things equal, the average water temperature during the life cycle of an insect is a factor.
Blue Quills, Quill Gordons and Little Black Caddis (American Grannoms) all hatch when the water reaches
about 50 degrees but that's not necessarily the triggering factor. If a particular trout streams is located where
the weather has been normal over the period of time the larvae have been developing, that is usually a good
indication of when the insects will begin emerging. That written, water temperature can also be
deceptive as regards to the timing of a hatch.
For example, if the water in Little River happened to reach 50 degrees and stay there for a few day in the
middle of December, neither of the above insects would begin to hatch. The reason is the nymphs, in the
case of Blue Quills and Quill Gordons, would not be fully developed. In the case of the caddis, the larvae
would not have changed into their pupal stage of life. Nymphs cannot emerge until they reach their final
instar and develop wing pads. Caddisflies must pupate before hatching.
On the other hand, if the Fall and Winter months happened to have been unusually warm by a substantial
amount, and the water temperature happened to reach the magic 50 degrees around the first of February,
the insects would be fully developed and begin to hatch.
The Winter hatch chart we have developed for the streams of the Smokies show the Blue Quills and Little
Black Caddis beginning to hatch in the middle of February. We show the Quill Gordons a week later and
that's simply because we always seem to see a few Blue Quills before the Quill Gordons. Keep in mind, we
show this time period based on the average of the past twelve years.
Also keep in mind that this shows the period of time one needs to be prepared for the hatches to begin. The
earliest dates are for the lowest elevations in the park and warmer than normal temperatures. The
most important thing to remember is that It doesn't necessarily mean that hatches won't begin later or that
they won't begin much earlier. You have to take into consideration the weather conditions over the
previous months leading up until that time period.
Also notice, the entire time span on the Spring hatch chart goes until the first week of April for the Quill
Gordons, second week of April for the Blue Quills (they always seem to be around longer than the Quill
Gordons). At this point, the hatches are almost always limited to the highest elevations these mayflies exist
where the water gets warmer later than it does in the lowest elevations. At any one section of a stream, these
hatches usually only last for about two to three weeks even though the overall hatch may continue for two or
even three times that duration of time.
Last year, we experienced unusual weather conditions. The average temperature during the three to four
months leading into the first of February was unusually warm. We didn't have much cold weather in the
Smokies at all. Consequently, when the water reached the right temperatures during the first week of
February, hatches of Little Black Caddis, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons begin to occur in the lowest
elevations of the park. That didn't happen simply because the water temperature happened to reach 50
degrees or more for two or three days. It happened because it had been warmer than it normally is all Winter.
So far this year, things seem to be normal. According to the weather data, the air temperatures (which control
the water temperature) have been about normal. They are showing a warm spell starting this coming week
and depending on exactly how long that warm weather last, we could see early hatches occurring this year.
As of now, I think things are running fairly normal and the hatch charts are showing what you should expect
provided you keep the exceptions I noted above in mind.
Years ago, after collecting samples of aquatic insects in streams from coast to coast, we decided to try to
simplify the process of selecting imitations to match the various stages of life of the insects on trout streams
nationwide. We intended to produce what we called digital hatch charts. After getting about half way through
this detailed process, the rapid change in digital formats occurred faster than we could complete the DVD.
We are now working on online versions of the same thing, This section of an older promotional video I
recently put on you tube gives you an idea of what we are doing although the format will be very different.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily Articles
Mondays: Weather and Stream Conditions
Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies - Which
Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
Thursday: Smoky Mountains Fishing Report
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout Food