Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 08/12/14
Considering it is mid- summer, we will have some very nice weather today in the
Smokies. The high in Gatlinburg will only be 77. The stream levels are up and in
good shape. For the first time in a long time, Little River is in great shape and
Oconaluftee is a little too high. That is right the reverse of what has been happening
during most of July. The North Carolina side of the park has usually had an
advantage in that respect.
New Tenkara Fly Rods and Fly Lines:
Most people that begin to think about taking up fly fishing have one worry. They think
casting a fly is difficult, more difficult to cast than other types of fishing tackle. The
main reason for this is that's exactly the way fly fishing authors, manufacturers, fly
shops and fly anglers present the sport. From the get go, potential anglers form
the opinion that fly fishing is more complicated and more involved than other fishing
methods. Fly fishing schools, fly casting schools and fly casting instructors
infer exactly that. That is really a shame because first and foremost, fly fishing isn't
more complicated than many other types of fishing. Casting a fly isn't necessarily any
more complicated than bait casting, for example. The main reason for all the "fishing
schools" and "fly casting schools and instructions", is for fly shops and manufacturers
(mostly at trade shows) to sell fly rods, fly lines and other fly fishing gear and
equipment. Instead of increasing the popularity of the sport, such schools
and demonstrations tend to decease the popularity of the sport. Many of the
so called "great fly casters" are seriously lacking in their ability to catch fish. Fly cast
shouldn't necessarily be pretty. They should be effective. Crooked, messed up cast,
are usually far more effective in catching trout than pretty cast that straighten the line
Fly fishing should be simple and easy to learn, and it actually is. The
Japanese method of Tenkara fly fishing is downright ultra simple. Its ease of
use, portability and quick setup makes it ultra simple as well as popular for small
streams, especially when backpacking and hiking is involved. The entire rod and
case only weighs 9.2 ounces. The system also works great for small lakes and ponds
and any small fish species that can be caught on the fly.
For the first time ever, we are selling some fly fishing gear we actually know little
about using. We based our decision to carry Tenkara Fly fishing gear on its recent
surge in popularity across the nation and especially, its popularity for fishing small
trout streams. Our decision on which Tenkara rods and fly line to sell was
based on the opinions of other expert fly anglers that are highly
experienced in using the age old Japanese Tenkara method of fly fishing.
They have used several different rods and lines without any obligation to any one
manufacturer and therefore, we trust their judgement over the (please excuse my
language) whores who accept discounts and free gear in return for their
endorsement of product.
When we first put our hands on the Zako Tenkara fly fishing rod we are now selling,
we didn't have any problem instantly recognizing its high quality. By the way, Zako in
Japanese, means small. The rod is designed to catch small fish up to 16 inches. Like
everything else, there are cheaper Tenkara rods and line on the market, and as you
would expect, there is a reason for its lower price. Removing the cap from the
aluminum rod case gave us our first clue of its level of construction quality. Its snug fit
was mechanically very smooth. When you first remove the rod from its cloth bag, you
become instantly aware of how simple everything is. The entire twelve foot long fly
rod telescopes down to 19 inches.
The first thing I was expecting and quite frankly, a little worried about, was the rod
would be a little loose fitting at its many ferules or telescope joints. That was instantly
forgotten, because as you extend the sections of the rod, one at a time, from the tip
to the cork handle, you feel a very snug fit that indicates the tight tolerances and
smooth, highly machined fit. When fully extended, the full flex (5:5) of the rod feels
like it is a one piece rod. The joints seem to have no affect on the flex whatsoever.
We are offering two options on fly line for the Zako Tenkara rod. Both are hand
woven, eleven foot long tapered Uni-thread fly lines. One is a light weight version
that provides a slight advantage when it comes to making delicate presentations of
the fly. The other is a light-medium version, that is slightly heavier and easier to cast.
It too, is capable of making delicate presentations but is favored by some because it
is a little easier to cast. Neither line is difficult to cast, mind you. In fact, both are very
easy to cast and both will make very delicate presentations. The 12 foot long rod,
keeps most all of the 11 foot long fly line off of the water, making drag-free drifts easy.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, there is a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after
noon. It will be mostly cloudy with a high near 80. West wind will be around 5 mph.
The chance of precipitation is 30%.
Wednesday, it should be mostly sunny with a high near 77. Calm wind will become
northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 284 cfs at 2.15 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 883 cfs at 2.44 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 138 cfs at 2.72 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
appeared a little low. It should have risen though the night.
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: There isn't
a gauge. The precipitation map shows it got quite a bit of rain in the watershed and
my guess is it is just a little high.
Current Recommended Streams
Today, I think you can fish just about anywhere in the park that trout exist.
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. Moth Larvae: (Inch Worms): 10/12/14
10. Carpenter Ants, Black
Hook Size 16/18
11. Japanese Beetles
Hook Size 16/14
12. 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
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 have begin
congregating near the banks to crawl out of the water and hatch. That makes them
much easier for the trout to catch and gives you a good opportunity to catch some
nice trout. This will occur off and on from now into the month of November. The
hatches will increase in late September and early October.
Let me note that if you fish 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 near the banks of the stream late in the day.
They crawl out of the water 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.
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 been 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 have also
started hatching. The duns leave the water very quickly but the spinner fall can
produce some very hot action.
Eastern Blue-winged Olives are rather large size BWOs that hatch in sparse
quantities in the lower and middle elevations during the late summer. They are not
baetis type BWOs, rather members of the Drunella genus that happen to have olive
color bodies and bluish tinted gray wings. You will usually find the duns, upside down
underneath the leaves of the trees in the shade during the day. If you see a few of
them, you should fish the spinner fall late that afternoon. They tend to hatch in the
late mornings, rather than afternoons until the weather becomes cooler.
There are still 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
Carpenter ants are very plentiful. 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
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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Aluminum rod case
Aluminum end cap
Telescoping rod sections barely extended
Tenkara Fly Line