Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 04/11/14
The outlook for the weekend looks good. The recent cold spells and higher stream
levels earlier in the week hampered anglers efforts. If there is anything a fish doesn't
like in the early spring, it's a drop in the water temperature. To put it in very simple
terms, it appears that it gives them a case of lock jaw for a period of time. Actually,
they don't stop eating. They just become less aggressive and more difficult to catch.
It isn't so much the actual water temperature at any given time. It is much more to
do with the change in water temperature. When the water temperature makes a
sudden change, the internal temperature of the cold blooded fish also changes. In
simple terms, when the water temperature drops substantially during the early spring,
it makes it more difficult to catch them.
Another factor at this time of the year, is if the range of change drops the water
temperature very much, it slows the surface action. You will usually see insects
continue to hatch but the trout will not feed on the surface near as much as they do
when the opposite situation is occurring and the water temperature is on the rise.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today will be sunny with a high near 73. West wind will be around 10 to 15 mph with
gusts as high as 20 mph. Tonight's low will be around 49.
Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high near 75. The wind will be calm. The low
Saturday night will be around 51.
Sunday will be mostly sunny with a high near 77. South wind will be around 5 to 10
mph. NWS Forecast
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 435 cfs at 2.42 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 742 cfs at 2.27 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 167 cfs at 2.85 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 slightly high.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they are slightly high.
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
8. American March Browns: 10/12
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 of success. 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 and Quill Gordon hatching but
this will occur mostly in the middle to higher elevations. Until I spotted something
hatching, with the Quill Gordon exception mentioned below, I would fish the BWO or
Blue Quill 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 and then switch to an Emerging
Adult or dun. I would also make sure I fished the spinner fall late in the day near dark.
You can catch more trout on the spinner fall and in a much shorter time than you can
during the hatch.
The only time I would change from the nymphs mentioned above is when and if I saw
something hatching, and then I would go to the appropriate emerger or dun/adult
imitation of that insect.
There is a good chance Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, and Little Black Caddis will hatch
today. Any or all of them could hatch but this will only occur in the middle to higher
elevations. There not many of either of these insects in the higher elevations but
there are a some in the few larger, slower high elevation streams.
The Hendricksons/Red Quills are usually concentrated but only in isolated locations
consisting mostly of pools and slower moving water. Most Smoky Mountain anglers
don't have a clue as to how to fish pools. That can be a huge mistake. It is also a
huge mistake attempting to fish them with the poor, generic imitations sold by most fly
shops simply because the trout can see the flies in the slower water of the pools.
Little Brown stoneflies are also likely to 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
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. They
too, are nearing the end of their hatch period.
Tips for Beginners:
Fish the middle elevation streams. There are more hatches occurring there right now
than the lower or higher elevations.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
You can just about pick and choose the hatches to fish by varying the elevation you
Whatever Hits Me:
Pigeon Forge has a zillion dog wood trees blooming right now and it reminds me of
something you can just about always bank on. When you see dogwoods blooming,
you can count on largemouth bass spawning. I didn't mention it when it was
happening, but to add to that....when you see red bud trees blooming, the males will
begin routing out beds and the females will hold in the nearest water (in the southern
lowland reservoirs) that's about two to four feet deep. If the lake is very clear, it will
be much deeper or if very dingy, much shallower. That situation has already
occurred in most places nearby the Smokies.
At about the same time the largemouth bass begin to spawn, if smallmouth inhibit the
same lake, they will begin staging for the spawn in a similar manner the largemouth
do when the red buds begin to show. As a general rule, they the females usually
stage in deeper water though.
Want another tip that few are aware of? When your fishing a southern lowland
reservoir looking for early spawning bass, fish the northwest side of the lake first.
The water will be slightly warmer. Cold fronts move from the northwest to the
southeast and the northwest side of the lake provides protection from the cold wind.
Another one: Given a choice, always fish banks that have oak and other hardwood
trees versus those that have mostly pines. It means the bottom is harder and bass
will the harder bottom over soft bottom for their beds. Yes, I could go on and on.
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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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
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.
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