Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. Slate Drakes
2. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Summer Stones)
3. Needle Stoneflies
4. Mahogany Duns
5. Little Yellow Quills
Most available - Other types of food:
6. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
7. Inch Worms
Smoky Mountains Fishing Report and Fly Fishing Strategies
As expected, they have made some changes in the weather forecast for the Smokies.
They are using the 50% rain forecast for just about all of next seven days. With the low
pressure system in the lower Gulf of Mexico, the shifting jet stream, and even potential for
a tropical storm or hurricane, it's just about impossible for them to figure out just where the
"heavy" rain is going to affect the Southeast.
As I mentioned day before yesterday in the Weather and Stream Conditions article, I
was able to fish three different times during the past week. Two were very short trips. One
was cut short by a thunderstorm with no fish to hand, and another short one was due to
just being short on time. I managed to catch two trout on the later trip but I only fished for
about thirty minutes.
The third trip was fantastic. I managed to catch over thirty trout but almost half of them
were brook trout. That took place on Cosby Creek from about 10:00 to 12:00 and later on
Little River. Most of the fish from Cosby were brook trout but there were two or three small
rainbows mixed in with them. I caught a rainbow and three brook trout out of one pool.
Even though I was still catching fish every few cast, I stopped fishing there and moved all
the way to Little River.
I fully expected the action to slow down at Little River since I wouldn't be fishing for brook
trout but it didn't. Even though I don't think the exact location was the key, I don't want to
pinpoint it. It was between the turn off the main road and Elkmont Campground. I
managed to catch an additional dozen or more trout there in about an hour and a half of
fishing. They were mostly rainbows but some were a very nice size of about ten inches.
Four were brown trout of which all but one were small. One would have measured about
13 or 14 inches. The big difference was it came on a dry fly, our Mahogany Dun. Three of
the rainbows also came on the same dry fly but all the others, including all of those from
Cosby, came on a Mahogany Dun nymph. I also managed to do something a little unusual
for Little River. I caught three trout from the same pool.
Conditions at both locations were absolutely perfect. It was very cloudy, solidly overcast,
with light misting rain most of the time. The stream levels at both locations were excellent
and for the very first time this year, I was able to wet wade. The water fekt a little chilly but
only because the air temperature wasn't as warm as it normally is in August.
I didn't see anything hatching at Cosby but midges and I really shouldn't have at that time
of the day. At Little River, I noticed some very tiny BWOs, plenty of midges and just as I
was leaving, I spotted a few Mahogany Duns hatching. They started much later in the day
than I expected.
Like their sisters, the Blue Quills, Mahogany Duns hatch in very shallow water which is not
always, but usually near the banks. It's usually close to fast water but always in the slow,
shallow water where trout are easily spooked. Fishing a Mahogany Dun hatch isn't easy.
The trout usually dart in and out of the shallow water to grab a nymph or emerging dun.
Those that don't, are easily spooked. Just your fly, leader and tippet landing on the slower
moving, calmer, shallow water is usually enough to spook them. The big key to catching
a decent number of trout in this case was the heavy, overcast sky. It looked as if it
was going to pour down raining the entire time I was fishing but it actually only sprinkled
for a few minutes. The conditions made the trout much less cautious than they normally
are in the shallow, slower sections of the stream. I only added a very tiny split shot about 8
inches above the Mahogany Dun nymph.
All in all, it was the best few hours (a total of about four hours) of fly fishing I have had in
the Smokies since early spring. It was one of the few times during the last three months or
so that I was able to comfortably wade.
Don't take me wrong. I realize that's nothing to brag about since most were brook trout,
but it was just such a big change from what I have experienced lately, I was very pleased. I
should also mention it was the first time I have actually fished for much more than an hour
at a time during the last few months. Not only have we been very busy with Perfect Fly,
conditions have been less than desirable for much of the year. I should also mention, as
I'm sure most of you know, that the conditions we are currently experiencing are very
unusual for the middle of August. If the forecast is correct, it's only going to reach into the
high seventies for the next few days. In addition, the streams are currently in excellent
Both locations I fished were mid-elevation streams. I'm sure the conditions were that good
as well in the high elevations. I mention that because you won't find as many Mahogany
Duns in the small streams in the higher elevations, and I wouldn't suggest you use the
same flies I used a few days ago in that case. For that reason, I'm breaking the strategies
into two parts, depending on the elevation and type of water you fish. Normally, you
wouldn't be able to fish the lower elevations at all at this time of the year. Even the middle
elevations would normally be marginal and only fishable early and late in the day.
I should stop and mention that if the water temperature reaches about 65
degrees, you should find another location at a higher elevation. The trout will
become sluggish between 65 and 70 degrees. At 70, they will become lethargic. This is
caused by a lack of dissolved oxygen.
In the middle elevations and middle to larger size streams, I suggest you use a
Mahogany Dun nymph in the mornings and up until you see something hatch. At this time,
there are more of them available for the trout to eat than any other nymph. That will
change back to Blue-winged Olives and Slate Drakes in a couple or three weeks, but for
now, I would go with the Mahogany Duns. They are crawler nymphs and cannot hide very
well from hungry trout. They are hatching. It it is a bright clear day, you shouldn't expect
great results. In fact, you may want to switch to a Slate Drake nymph if there isn't much
shade or cloud cover.
You may also see some Little Yellow Stoneflies in the middle to lower elevations. They are
the Summer Stones that are very close to the same appearance of the Spring hatches.If
you spot any adults, it means they are hatching and I suggest you fish a Little Yellow
Stonefly nymph late in the afternoon near dark. If it is late in the day and they are laying
eggs, switch to the adult pattern.
Other than the Little Yellow Stones, in the middle and low elevations, I would stick with the
Mahogany dun nymph until they hatch (if they do), and then switch to an emerger or dun
imitation. They will have a spinner fall but it will probably be near dark before it happens. If
you fish late, I suggest you have a few Mahogany Dun spinners.
In the higher elevation streams and fast water, middle elevation streams, I
suggest a different strategy altogether. I would fish a Little Yellow Quill nymph in the
mornings and up until I spotted something hatching. Most likely that would be Little Yellow
Quills but maybe, Needle Stoneflies. Although it is a little early for them, both have started
to hatch in the higher elevations. The Little Yellow Quills normally start to hatch around
the middle of the afternoon and sometimes later. If you spot any, switch to an emerger or
dun imitation of the Little Yellow Quill.
If neither one begins to hatch, you may want to switch to a Needle Stonefly nymph about
the middle of the afternoon. It is also possible to see a Cream Cahill hatch, but I think
those have about finished for the year.
If you spot any Needle Stoneflies laying eggs, switch to an adult imitation. Remember,
when they are flying, they look more like caddisflies than stoneflies.
You may also find some Little Yellow Quill spinners from the previous day's hatch showing
up late in the day. Sometimes, the spinners from the day before appear during the same
time of the current day's hatch. Their light colors make both the duns and spinners easy
I should also mention that if your fishing the small, headwater streams, you can also do
quite well fishing a dun imitation of either the Cream Cahills (which previously hatched) or
the Little Yellow Quill duns that are currently hatching in some of the streams. The brook
trout and small rainbows are not as picky as the larger rainbows and brown trout. The
strategies I suggested are based on increasing your odds of success or catching the
highest number of trout possible.
Good luck to everyone. I hope you all get the opportunity to fish the Smokies while the
conditions are great.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
New Schedule of Daily
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
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout
More Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us with the dates you will be
fishing the park and we will send
you a list of our fly suggestions.
Please allow up to 24 hours for a
2. Call us at 800-594-4726 and we
will help you decide which flies you
3. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.
Shipping is free in the U. S. for all
orders of any size. Orders over $50
are shipped free via Priority Mail.
Please enter your e-mail address in
the box to sign up for a free
subscription to the Perfect Fly "Fishing
Journal". It includes feature articles on
blue-ribbon destinations , fly fishing
techniques, and many other types of
articles of interest to any fly angler. You
can opt out at any time. If you decide
you don't want to receive our
information, just change your status by
clicking at the bottom of an e-mail we
send you in the "Remove" box. We will
not sell or give your e-mail address to
New! If you haven't signed up
previously, please sign up for
our Free Perfect Fly Fishing
Journal. The first issue will be
out by August 1st.