Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report - 07/24/14
During the month of July, I don't think fishing conditions for Great Smoky Mountains
National Park could be any better than they are now. Slightly cooler temperatures
and rain has really perked up the fish as well as the anglers. We had three different
groups of customers reporting some excellent catches yesterday. What was a little
amazing, was all three were fishing completely different types of water. Two were on
the North Carolina side and one on the Tennessee side of the park.
Some streams got a little high for a short time but those are falling back to normal
levels fast. I'm sure some guys got hit with heavy downpours and were not so happy
about that, but it takes some of that to keep conditions in good shape.
It has been raining hard in Pigeon Forge this morning and I'm not sure exactly how
the likely downpours are going to affect some stream levels this morning. I suggest
you check the precipitation map to see which watersheds were hit, if any. A couple of
hours from now, you will be able to get a better picture of that. Right now, the radar is
showing the rain is only isolated and it is only raining in a small portion of the national
park but that could change fast. Tip: The heavy downpours can wash a lot of ants
and beetles in the water along with cranefly larvae. That situation presents a good
opportunity to fish an imitation of them.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, there is a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. It will be mostly
cloudy with a high near 82. South winds will be 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the
afternoon. Tonight there is a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms
Friday should be mostly sunny with a high near 84. The wind should be calm.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 128 cfs at 1.66 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 425 cfs at 1.79 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 68 cfs at 2.40 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but yesterday afternoon it
appeared to be just a little above normal.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
I am mostly going by the precip map and that indicates the streams should be flowing
about normal levels.
Current Recommended Streams
With the cooler weather, I think you can fish about anywhere in the park with the
exception of the lowest elevations.
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Eastern Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 14/16
2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins: Especially good in off color, high water &
early/late in the day
Hook Size 4/6
3. Light Cahills:
Hook Size 16/14
4. Slate Drakes
Hook Size 10/12
5. Cream Cahills
Hook Size 16/14
6. Green Sedge (Caddisfly):
Hook Size 14/16
larvae (Green Rock Worms)
7. Little Yellow Stoneflies:
Hook Size 14/16
8. Little Green Stoneflies
Hook Size 16
9. Golden Stoneflies:
Hook Size 10/12
10. Moth Larvae: (Inch Worms): 10/12/14
11. Carpenter Ants, Black
Hook Size 16/18
12. Japanese Beetles
Hook Size 16/14
13. Grass Hoppers
Hook Size 10, 12, 14
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 true Sulphurs are still hatching in the Smokies. They hatch in slower water but
often very near fast water runs and riffles. These mayflies are not 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
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 a Slate Drake nymph. These big
mayflies are plentiful throughout the streams of the Smokies. They are swimming
nymphs and represent a big meal for the trout that catch them. They will begin to
hatch anytime now and the nymphs are beginning to crawl to the banks to crawl out
of the water and hatch. That makes them much easier for the trout to catch and give
you a good shot at catching some nice trout that watch the constant migration that
will occur off and on for the next few months, more for this coming month and less
during August. The hatches will pick up again in late September and early October.
Let me note that if you fished the day before, and know for a fact a certain mayfly
listed above is hatching in a certain area of the stream your fishing, by all means fish
the nymph of that mayfly the next morning up until you begin to see them hatch. That
will always give you the highest odds of success.
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.
Little Green Stoneflies are also hatching. They tend to hatch in slower water at the
ends of pools, more so than the fast water runs and riffles. They are similar to the
Little Yellows, but have a bright green body and wings. They average a hook size 16.
Golden Stoneflies have been hatching. These will be found in good numbers but only
in isolated areas of some streams, usually where the water has some deep, fast runs.
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 have been hatching and will continue for a few more weeks. There
are several different species of them. 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 beem hatching and will continue for the next two or three 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. 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.
Cream Cahills, similar to the Light Cahills, but a much lighter color mayfly will begin to
hatch within the next few days. They tend to be more of these in the middle and
higher elevations. The duns leave the water very quickly but the spinner fall can
produce some very hot action.
There are plenty of moth larvae hanging from the tree limbs. The moth larvae fly also
imitates the green caddis larvae quite well and is one reason the fly works well in the
Carpenter ants are becoming very plentiful and getting as large as they will get.
There are both black and browns ones in the park but the blacks are more plentiful.
These ants tend to only get in the water when they are washed in by heavy
downpours. It is a good idea to fish them anytime after a thunderstorm.
The same heavy rain scenario applies to the Japanese Beetle. These insects are
very plentiful in the park. Fish our Perfect Fly imitation of them anytime, but they are
more effective after heavy downpours.
In areas where the streams in the park are surrounded by lots of grass, hoppers can
become a factor in the trout's diet. They are generally blown in the streams by high
wind, but can always accidentally jump in the water. They are not the smartest
creatures on earth.
Tips for Beginners:
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
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Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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