Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 05/29/14
I got some email and a couple of calls from anglers wanting to know the best streams
to fish in the Smokies at the current time, because of their concern of low water
levels. As you probably know, most streams do not have USGS real-time stream
data. Of those that do, Oconaluftee and Cataloochee Creeks looks to be in the best
shape and Little River appear quite low. I like it that way but most anglers want higher
stream levels. It does make it a little easier to fool the trout. They have a much better
opportunity to examine your fly in slower, lower water. In low water conditions, they
also have a much better opportunity to detect poor presentations as well as see your
leader, fly line, and even you.
There is an easy and very accurate way to determine which watersheds in the park
have received the most precipitation (rain). It is the National Weather Service
precipitation map. Just zoom in on Tennessee/North Carolina near the park. Reduce
the "precipitation opacity" slider to see the city names and you can center the map
around the park using Gatlinburg and Cherokee, for example. They used to have a
search feature that let you enter Great Smoky Mountains but for some reason that
doesn't work today, anyway. Since it rained little yesterday, use the two day setting
and you can clearing see where the rain fell in the park and easily see the North
Carolina side got much more. You don't have to guess where rain fell in the park. All
it takes is a little time to use this feature and a little knowledge of the park boundaries
relative to the surrounding communities. You should learn the streams location
in the park anyway. The best way is to get the fine, highly detailed fishing maps
from Smoky Streams.com.
By the way, of course you can do the same thing anywhere in the nation.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
There is a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today, mainly after
noon. It will be partly sunny with a high near 86. Tonight, there is a 50 percent
chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before midnight.
Friday looks a little better is terms of rain. There's aA 50 percent chance of showers
and thunderstorms. It will be partly sunny with a high near 84.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 110 cfs at 1.59 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 414 cfs at 1.79 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 85 cfs at 2.49 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby and I haven't seen it this morning
yet, but its probably about normal.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Cherokee Lake: My guess
is they are near normal.
Current Recommended Streams
If you don't like low water levels, I would avoid fishing Little River. It is low. Personally,
I like it that low. The North Carolina side of the park appears to be in better shape
with respect to stream levels but again, the rain was isolated and some N.C. streams
may be low.
I would also avoid the lowest elevations. It isn't that you can't catch trout down low. It
certainly isn't too warm yet, but simply because you will have higher odds of success
in the middle elevations. There are more hatches taking place in the middle
elevations than the low at this particular time. The higher elevations are now in great
condition for catching lots of brookies and you may prefer to do that.
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 16/20
2. Sculpins: Especially good in off color, high water & early/late in the day
Hook Size 4/6
Black Matuka Sculpin
Olive Matuka Sculpin
3. Light Cahills:
Hook Size 16/14
4. American March Browns: 10/12
5. Giant Black StoneflIies: 4/6
6. Green Sedge (Caddisfly):
Hook Size 14/16
larvae (Green Rock Worms)
7. Little Yellow Stoneflies:
Hook Size 14/16
8. Golden Stoneflies:
Hook Size 10/12
Miscellaneous Hatches Occurring in the Smokies:
Cinnamon Caddis and Little Sister caddis:
I should mention that you may find some Cinnamon Caddis, sizes 18 and 16, about
the middle of the month of May, along with their Little Sister Caddis, size 18. These
are usually found in the slower sections of the larger streams but only in very small
quantities and only in isolated locations within the stream. Abrams Creek has plenty
of both of these caddisflies and if you fish Abrams I suggest you have imitations of
The Eastern Pale Evening Duns have begin to hatch. These mayflies are called
"Sulphurs" by local southern anglers but are not true Sulphurs. They are a size 14
and slightly larger than the true sulphurs and very common in nearby tailwaters such
as the Clinch and South Holston. The true Sulphurs will start to hatch about the first
of the month in the Smokies and at times you may find both species. The Eastern
Pale Evening Duns have more of a tan colored body and hatch in faster water than
the true Sulphurs. The true Sulphurs have more of a sulphur colored body, are
slightly smaller, and hatch in slower water but often very near fast water runs and
riffles. Neither of these mayflies are plentiful in the Smokies. They are crawler
nymphs and found mostly in pockets and pools with areas of softer bottom. They can
be plentiful but only in very small, isolated sections of the larger streams.
Recommended Fishing Strategy:
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.
Until I spotted something hatching, I would fish the BWO nymph. Right now you have
two completely different size BWOs hatching, one a size 20 and another closer to a
size 16. The only time I would change from the nymphs just mentioned is when and if
I saw something hatching, and then I would go to the appropriate emerger or
dun/adult imitation of that insect.
American March Browns are hatching but they are always sporadic hatches that are
difficult to predict in terms of the time of day. They will hatch off and on over a long
period of time, for the next couple of months. If you see any duns emerging, change
to an American March Brown emerger or dun. That also means there will be a
spinner fall late in the day near dark and that always concentrates them. You can
catch several trout very fast if you catch that right.
Giant Black stoneflies are also likely to hatch but the hatch occurs near or after dark.
Fishing the Giant Black stonefly nymph near the banks very late in the day should be
very effective. If you see any Giant Black stoneflies laying eggs, switch to the adult
Little Yellow Stoneflies are hatching. If you see any adults during the day, it is a good
idea to fish an imitation of the nymph late in the day and near the banks of the
stream. They crawl out and hatch during the darkness of the night. You may also
spot some of the females laying eggs. This usually occurs late afternoons and if so,
be certain to fish an imitation of the adult.
Golden Stoneflies should begin to hatch anytime now, if not already. Like all
stoneflies, they crawl out of the water mostly at night. Fishing an imitations of the
nymph late in the day is a good idea, provided you know they are hatching in a given
area. Fish the adult when you see them laying eggs late in the afternoon.
Green Sedges should start to hatch in the lower elevation first, and then progress
upstream as the days go by. The do not hatch in big numbers but where they hatch,
trout will focus on eating them because they hatch at a time of day that is different
from other hatching insects at this time of the year. It usually occurs later in the day
near the same time the previously hatched adults are depositing their eggs. You
should concentrate far more on fishing the Green Rock Worm or larva stage of life of
the Green Sedge.
Light Cahills have started hatching and will continue for the next few weeks. This is a
good mayfly hatch for the Smokies and if you encounter any, you want to make sure
you fish it. If you encounter one today, you should fish the Light Cahill nymph in the
morning and for the next few days in the same area. This hatch tends to move
upstream a few days at a time. If you see the duns, you can expect the spinners to
fall late in the afternoon. They are very difficult to see and you probably won't see
them. Just fish the Light Cahill spinner pattern at the ends of the runs and riffles
where they will congregate. If a hatch has occurred, they will be there for certain but
sometimes it is quite late near dark.
Tips for Beginners:
If you can't catch trout now, you may need to take up table tennis.
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
Thanks for visiting
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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