Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 03/17/14
I think yesterday's post is important enough to leave up for another day. For some
reason, I managed to leave out the weather in yesterday's post.
From today forward, I am quite certain the water temperature is going to have little
effect on the Quill Gordon, Blue Quill, Brown Stonefly, baetis BWO and Little Black
Caddis hatches. They are all running a few days behind schedule but as I have
written many times before, the temperature is only an indirect factor in the timing of
the hatches. They will not go far beyond their one year cycle without hatching. They
are taking place in the lowest elevations and you can track them upstream
for the next two to three weeks as the water warms in the higher elevations.
Keep in mind, you may fish any given area of water and not see any particular one of
the above insects hatching, yet move a few hundred yards up or downstream and
find them. There are two main controlling factors. One is the type of water (low or
steep gradient - runs, riffles, pools) and the other the water temperature. Of course,
the time of day is the single largest factor. Each of these species only hatch from
about 45 minutes to two hours maximum. For example, if your at the wrong place at
the wrong time, you my not see any quill gordons hatching. If you see several of the
duns or the spinners in any one place, it means they have already hatched. If you
see lots of Little Black Caddis in the bushes and on the rocks, it means you already
missed the hatch. By the way, the most important part of the Little Black Caddis hatch
is the egg laying which takes place late in the day.
I should also point out that on many occasions, we have caught as many or more
trout on the Quill Gordon spinner fall as the hatch. It often takes place after legal
fishing hours in the park but on days like today (light rain or heavy overcast days), it
may occur anywhere from 5:00 to 7:30 PM. It usually last from about 30 minutes to an
hour at the most. It is possible to catch a trout on just about every cast during a good
Quill Gordon spinner fall.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today's high will be near 50. There is a 90% chance of rain this morning, clearing up
this afternoon. Tonight, there's a slight chance of drizzle with a low around 41.
Tuesday forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of showers before 2pm. Cloudy, then
gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 60. NWS Forecast
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 299 cfs at 2.11 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 587 cfs at 2.07 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 109 cfs at 2.62 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. It is a little on the low side.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they are a little low.
Current Recommended Streams
Any of the streams in the lower elevations where trout exist.
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:
The higher water levels may make wading a little tougher in some areas but the
levels are falling fast.
There's a chance you could see some Little Brown stoneflies laying eggs this
afternoon. It is also possible to see some Blue Quills, BWO and Quill Gordon
hatching. I would fish the BWO or Blue Quill nymph until about 3:00 PM and then
switch to a Little Brown stonefly nymph. In an area where you may spotted Quill
Gordons hatching yesterday, you should fish the Quill Gordon nymph until they begin
The only time I would change from the nymph is when and if I saw something
hatching, and then I would go to the appropriate emerger or dun imitation of that
insect. There is a good chance the Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, Little Black Caddis
and baetis BWO's will hatch today. Any or all of them could hatch in the lower to
middle elevations. Little Brown stoneflies will likely hatch but the hatch occurs near or
after dark. Fishing the Little Brown stonefly nymph near the banks very late in the
day should be very effective. If you see any Little Brown stoneflies laying eggs, switch
to the adult pattern.
You will likely see some very small black caddis. I suggest you ignore them. They are
about a size 20 to 22 and crawl out of the water to hatch and we have always been
unable to catch trout trying to imitate them. The Little Black Caddis Brachycentrus
(American Grannoms) (size 18) hatch mid water like many mayflies. They don't crawl
out of the water. They fly off the water. Use an imitation of the pupa during the hatch,
and adults during egg laying.
Tips for Beginners:
Quill Gordons range from a hook size 12 to 14, depending on the gender, not 10's
like some fly shop salesmen will tell you. Blue Quills average around a hook size 18,
with the males slightly smaller and the females slightly larger, not 16 as some fly shop
salesmen will tell you.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
If you are not certain your an expert, you should read the first few paragraphs twice. I
have met many anglers that thought they were an expert, even two that
called themselves guides, that didn't as much as know what a mayfly spinner
Whatever Hits Me:
Thank you for visiting our website.
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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