Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 04/02/14
I forgot to change the date on yesterday's report, leaving it the same as the day
I took a short time off yesterday to make a trip into the park and discovered an
American March Brown mayfly. I actually noticed it in Gatlinburg when stopping for
a sandwich, which is of course, outside the park. It does tell me they should start
hatching in the streams of the lower elevations of the park pretty soon. I show them
on our hatch chart starting the second week of April and hatching all the way through
the middle of June.
The American March Brown, not to be confused with the March Brown, a completely
different western species, is a strange mayfly. It has caused entomologist many
problems. A few years ago, they had to reclassified it. They also solved the old
problem with the Gray Fox, thought for years to be a separate species. It turned out
to be nothing but a slightly smaller American March Brown that hatches near the end
of the insects very long hatch period.
This crazy mayfly not only hatches over a long period of time, it hatches at various
times during the day and almost never in any concentrated numbers. The Smokies
have a ton of the big clinger mayflies but they can be a headache trying to imitate
them during the hatch. It is much easier to fish the spinner phase of the hatch, which
is about the only time you will ever find them concentrated. I will add them to the list
of insects below within the next week or so.
I did go ahead and add the Hendricksons and Red Quills. By the way, that is one
mayfly, not two. The Hendrickson is the common name of the female and the
Red Quill the common name of the male. They look entirely different. The male
and female spinners look completely different and even the emergers are very
different. We have specific imitations of both the male and female emergers, duns
and spinners. By the way, the most important stage is the spinner fall.
These mayflies exist in some areas of a few streams in the park. Like most crawler
nymph mayflies, these mayflies can be plentiful in isolated areas, but you could fish
for a week and not see the first one. They are not found in fast water, rather slower
sections of water consisting mostly of the pools. It is worth having some imitations
with you in case you encounter them.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
It will be sunny today with a high near 78. Tonights low will be around 55.
Thursday should be partially cloudy with a high near 75 and a 30% chance of
showers. NWS Forecast
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 440 cfs at 2.43 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 705 cfs at 2.21 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 111 cfs at 2.63 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but It is near normal.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they are near normal levels.
Current Recommended Streams
Any of the streams in the lower to middle elevations.
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 4/6/8
Black Matuka Sculpin
Olive Matuka Sculpin
3. Little Brown Stoneflies: 14
4. Blue Quills: 18
5. Quill Gordons: 12/14
emerging duns (wet fly)
6. Little Black Caddis: 18
7. Hendricksons and Red Quills: 12/14
Recommended Fishing Strategy: NO CHANGES
Keep in mind, the strategies I am recommending is for the maximum odds of
catching numbers of fish. Many prefer or favor a dry fly and by all means there
isn't anything wrong with that. It's just a fact that if nothing is hatching at the time, it
reduces your odds. You can still probably hook some trout, just not as many as if you
fish subsurface. Of course, this is also based on using good techniques and the right
flies. Some guys don't know how to fish below the surface.
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. Until I spotted something hatching, With the Quill Gordon exception
mentioned below, I would fish the BWO or Blue Quill nymph. If I still hadn't witnessed
a hatch, about 3:00 PM, I would switch to a Little Brown stonefly nymph. In an area
where you spotted Quill Gordons hatching the previous day, you should fish the
Quill Gordon nymph until they begin to hatch. The odds are good they will continue
to hatch and the clinger nymphs are out from underneath the rocks exposed.
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/adult imitation of
that insect. In the Quill Gordon case, if the hatch is taking place and the trout are not
feeding on the surface very much, use the Emerging Quill Gordon wet fly.
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.
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:
I'm leaving this up for another day; Fish nymphs until you see surface activity and
then switch to your dry fly imitation of what you think is hatching. It will be one of
the above insects.
Some quick tips on identifying them.
Mayfly duns have upright wings. The Quill Gordons are big, size 12 to 14, with dark
bodies and wings, the Blue Quills have very dark wings and bodies and are little, a
size 18, and the Blue-winged Olives have olive bodies and light wings and are little,
size 18. The Little Black Caddis are dark and little, a size 18, with tent shaped down
wings. The Little Brown Stoneflies will be small for stoneflies but fairly large compared
to the other insects other than the Quill Gordons. They are a size 14 with flat down
wings. You will sometimes see them dipping down to touch the water late in the day.
And by the way, you may catch a few fish on a Parachute Adams but they are
really a pitiful imitation of anything hatching at this time of the year. They are
not even close. It is about all the mom and pop fly shops have to sell. If you
want to fish them, we sell them along with all the other generic flies, but at a
$1.00 each and that's delivered to your front door.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
With short but heavy hatch periods due to clear skies, being at the right place at the
right time will be even more important than it normally is.
Whatever Hits Me:
A ton of work to do
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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Please allow up to 24 hours for a
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Little Brown Stonefly
Blue Quill Dun
Quill Gordon Dun
Little Black Caddis
Male Hendrickson Dun, has a redish olive body, big tomato eyes
Female Hendrickson, has little eyes and cream/tan body.
American March Brown dun (This one is a late season male a little
darker than you will find them early in the season and the one that
was at one time called a Gray Fox.