Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 02/27/14
I know everyone, wherever you live and whatever you do (short of owning a ski
resort), are tired of cold weather. Never-the-less, much of the nation is going to have
a couple of more weeks of lower than normal temperatures. At least that's what all
the long-term weather forecast are indicating.
With regards to the Smokies, lower than normal temperatures are present right now
(the temperature in Gatlinburg is 20 degrees with a high today of 43. That's going to
improve from today through Sunday, with warm temperatures on Sunday reaching
into the sixties. At least as of now, they are expected the temperatures to start
dropping back down on Monday. They shouldn't be near as low as they have been.
Just lower than normal.
Several years during the past dozen or so, we have watched the major spring
hatches of Blue Quills, Quill Gordons and Little Black Caddis start and then become
interrupted by cold weather. That isn't abnormal at all. In fact, there has only been a
few years during the past dozen when the opposite of that happened and it turned
warm and stayed warm. When that has happens, it greatly shortens the overall
duration of the hatches. For example, in the lower to middle elevations, the Quill
Gordon hatch has started and ended within a two weeks period of time. Certainly, the
hatches were profuse, the water remained in the low to mid fifties, the trout were very
active, and the dry fly fishing was great.
The opposite of that is warm fronts interrupted by cold fronts with the hatches
starting and subsiding as follows. At any one elevation range, once the insects fully
develop their wing pads and begin to hatch, they continue to do so in spite of the
water temperature. The water temperature is only a guideline. At any one point in
time, It is not a direct factor, rather an indirect factor. It's the overall average water
temperature from the time the insect is an egg until it emerges into an adult fly that's
important. That's a day to three days under one year for most mayflies.
If the average water temps are higher than normal, they develop faster, or if it
averages lower than normal, they develop slower. However, it only affects them up to
a point. A good way to describe (in below layman terms) it like this. Human babies
take 9 months to develop but they can arrive days short of that, or a few days
beyond that duration of time. On the other hand, you don't see many being born a
month or two early, or a month or two late. It is about the same with the insects.
They are going to emerge near their year's cycle of life irregardless of the water
temperature. Insects do have a little wider range in that respect that babies.
All of the above is to say this. If it does remain colder than normal for the
first two weeks of March, and the water temperature doesn't reach and
remain at the magic 50 degree mark or higher, you can rest assured the
Quill Gordons in the streams of the lower elevations will start emerging
sometime within the next two weeks period of time. My guess is at the very
lowest elevations trout exist, this will happen next week. Once started, they won't stop
hatching at that lower elevation range, but in the middle to higher elevations, where
they have existed in colder water for the last year and are less developed, the low
water temps can delay the hatches. It can sting out the overall duration of the Quill
Gordon hatch for as long as 5 or 6 weeks.
Tomorrow, I will explain how this effects the strategies and how you should fish these
hatches differently, depending on how they occur. To give the two opposite
extremes, it can be that trout are eating the Quill Gordons on the surface big time, or
it can be that the trout will rarely take one from the surface and end up eating about
all of the emerging duns mid stream below the surface. I can say to a big extent, most
are always eaten below the surface during a hatch. Either way, the trout are going to
eat about the same number of them. It is just a matter of how and where.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today should be sunny with a high near 43 with a low tonight of around 18.
Friday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 48. There is a slight chance of rain
Friday night changing to snow in the early morning. The low will around 31. The
chance of precipitation is 50%. Saturday's high should be 53.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 357 cfs at 2.25 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 635 cfs at 2.05 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 181 cfs at 2.88 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. Late yesterday afternoon it
looked near normal level.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they will be flowing near normal levels.
Current Recommended Streams
Abrams Creek (upper part from just below the foot bridge at the end of the parking
lot in Cades Cove and upstream.
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
White Belly Sculpin
3. Winter Stoneflies: 18/16
4. Little Brown Stoneflies: 14
5. Blue Quills: 18
6. Quill Gordons: 12/14
emerging duns (wet fly)
8. Little Black Caddis: 18
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
No changes from 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. If you see any Little Brown
stoneflies, fish the nymph late in the afternoon. If you see any Little Brown or Winter
adult stoneflies laying eggs, switch to the adult pattern of the stonefly.
Tips for Beginners:
Fish upper Abrams Creek or any low elevation small stream and use a strike
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
High sticking would still be my choice method of fishing today.
Whatever Hits Me:
Yesterday Angie and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. It was actually a few days
ago but she was a little under the weather with a sore throat and cold. She cooked
an absolute wonderful rib eye steak dinner with far too many trimmings and deserts.
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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