Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 02/21/14
It actually got too warm in our bedroom last night with the heat off. That was a little
strange and scary, but the temperature dropped rather sharply when the rain finally
started early this morning.

It is too early for me to tell for sure, but so far it appears the park will get about an
average of an inch of rain with some parts getting a little more. I'm basing that on the
current National Weather Service precipitation map but it is still raining some as I
write this.

The streams were already high enough that caution should be used but that will
increase as the morning progresses. I'm sure it won't be safe to wade any of the
larger ones today. We won't know the highest levels until probably around noon or
later today. The levels shown below are prior to the levels starting to rise much.

Smoky Mountain Weather:
I think the rain will end in the park later this morning. It will be cloudy, then gradually
becoming sunny, with a high near 56. West wind will be around 15 mph, with gusts as
high as 25 mph. The low tonight will be around 29.

Saturday will be sunny, with a high near 62, with a low Saturday night of around 34.
Sunday's  high temperature will be near 60.

I should mention that there is a chance of rain on Tuesday, changing to snow  
Tuesday night and Wednesday. The daily high temperatures will be dropping each
day next week with a high Thursday, of only 42 and a low of around 22.

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

Little River: Rate 587 cfs at 2.71 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 1090 cfs at 2.62 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 240 cfs at 3.07 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)

Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. I'm sure it is flowing high.

Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
they will be flowing high after the rain ends on the NC side of the park.

Current Recommended Streams
Any of the small, lower elevation streams or, if you fish a streamer, the larger, lower  
elevation streams.

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

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

3. Winter Stoneflies: 18/16

Little Brown Stoneflies: 14

Blue Quills: 18

Quill Gordons: 12/14
emerging duns (wet fly)

Little Black Caddis: 18

Recommended Fishing Strategy:
I took the water temperature in Little River at Metcalf Bottoms at the warmest part of
the day yesterday, and according to my two thermometers (digital and analog) both
agreed it was 47 degrees. I noticed last night the gauge at Little River reached about
52. It is several miles downstream of any wild trout and usually reads as much as two
to six degrees higher than water where wild trout exist. It's okay to get a rough idea,
or for the dough belly stockers but little else. The
Cataloochee Creek
temperature gauge is more reliable for trout but I think it too is a little lower than trout
exist. It measured a high of 48 degrees.

Notice, I have added Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, and Little Back Caddis to the above
list. None of these are currently hatching but the nymphs, in the case of the mayflies,
are out from under the rocks developing their wing pads and the pupa, in the case of
the caddis, emerging from their chimney cases. I dropped the midges, but not
because they won't continue to hatch. They hatch year-round but in the freestone
streams of the Smokies, they aren't a preferred choice if the water isn't very cold.

The Blue Quills will start hatching just ahead or about the same time as the Quill
Gordons, and then a little later, the Little Black Caddis will begin to emerge. This may
possibly start in the very lowest elevations prior to next week's cold front but if so, it
will only be in a few, very low areas where trout exist. It now appears the bulk of these
hatches will begin in March in the low elevations and move upstream as the days
progress. It is usually the first week of April before they all hatch throughout the park
but all depends on the weather.

I doubt the streams will be wadeable today. Some of the smallest ones may be safe
to wade if caution is used. If you fish the smaller ones, I would follow yesterday's
recommendations: 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. If you see any adults, fish the Little Brown Stonefly
nymphs late in the day near the banks.

Tips for Beginners:
Stay out of the water today.

Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
If you try to wade, be careful. No one is every to much of an expert to be given that

Whatever Hits Me:
The fact I'm tired from rising early due to all the thunder. We had a very large
number of orders come in last night and I'll probably have to help the ladies some
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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