Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 02/20/14
I'll shorten this section due to the lengthy sections at the bottom of the page.

Smoky Mountain Weather:
It will be mostly cloudy today, with a high near 69. Wind gusts could be as high as 25
mph. Showers and thunderstorms will occur tonight, mainly between 1am and 4am,
then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 4am. The low will be around 45
degrees. The chance of precipitation is 100%.

Friday morning, showers are likely and possibly a thunderstorm. It will be cloudy
through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 51. The wind will be
from the west around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. The low Friday night will
be 31 degrees. Friday's chance of precipitation is 60%.

Looking ahead to the weekend, it will be sunny Saturday with a high near 62 and a
low that night of 36. Sunday will be a little cooler, with a high near 54.
NWS Forecast

Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:

Little River: Rate 548 cfs at 2.64 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 875cfs at 2.37 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 215 cfs at 2.99 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)

Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. Yesterday, it looked like it was
flowing just above normal level.

Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
they are slightly high.

Current Recommended Streams
Any of the lower elevation streams where trout exist. What the higher wader levels.

Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 18
nymphs (this would be the main fly)

2. Midges: Cream
Hook Size 20/22

3. Sculpins: Especially good in off color, high water & early/late in the day
Hook Size 6
Brown Sculpin
White Belly Sculpin

4. Winter Stoneflies: 18/16

Little Brown Stoneflies: 14

Recommended Fishing Strategy:
No changes in yesterday's recommendations: I hope the stream levels stay low
enough to wade after the next rain hits us. I think they probably will.
It will be nice and warm and springlike but about the only chance of anything hatching
will be Blue-winged Olives and midges. There can also be some little size 20/22
caddis that crawl out of the water to hatch but I have never been able to successfully
catch trout by trying to imitate them. I am not referring to the Little Black Caddis which
will hatch later. They are one of the best spring hatches that are most ignored by
anglers. You could see some little Winter stoneflies (dark charcoal brown) and
possibly some Little Brown Stoneflies.

There is still no change in what I recommend. I would fish the BWO nymph until about
3:00 PM and then switch to a Little Winter stonefly nymph. The only time I would
change that strategy is when and if I saw something hatching and then I would go to
the appropriate imitation of that. Fish the slow side of any current seams, pockets
and pools where there is little to no current. I have added Little Brown Stoneflies to
the list of recommend flies. I am still expecting to see some on the banks and roads
but I haven't. I have been in the park the last two days in a row.

Tips for Beginners:
Don't let the warm air fool you into thinking it is Spring and trout will be feeding on the
surface like crazy. That's always possible but stay with the nymphs until you see
something hatching.

Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
I hope you will read the following comments.

Whatever Hits Me:
This time of the year everyone tends to start focusing on the Quill Gordons. There's
nothing wrong with that, but don't forget, prior to the Quill Gordons, you will almost  
always start seeing a few little Blue-winded olives hatches and just before the first
Quill Gordons, lots of Blue Quills. They start hatching first but are much more difficult
to imitate successfully because they hatch in the shallower, slack water. The Quill
Gordons will emerge in the fast water current seams and therefore, it is much easier
to fool trout imitating them than the Blue Quills.

Remember, if the weather gets warm and remains stable and warm, the Quill Gordon
hatch will not last over a week at any one specific location. In general, the hatch will
move upstream as the water warms. Under these same conditions, the overall
duration of he hatch usually only last about three weeks, from low to higher
elevations. It the weather is unstable and water temperatures rise and fall, the
hatches will be sporadic and the overall duration can last as long as a month and a
half to almost two months

Just because you don't see a Quill Gordon hatch taking place at any one location,
doesn't mean they are not hatching. Anywhere from two hundred yards to
five miles up or downstream on the same stream the hatch may be full blown. The
key is to check as many locations as you can during the very warmest part of the
afternoon until you find them. When I mention locations, I mean only check the type
of water they hatch in. In any one stream, there's usually far more water where there
are not any, than locations where hatches will be occurring.

I'll point out more things about fishing this hatch within the next few days. There are
several more factors to be considered and more ways than one to fish the hatch.
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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