Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 10/18/14
The stream levels have continued to fall but most of them in the lower elevations are
still too high to safely wade. Sure, you can wade them, but you will be fighting strong
current. Those that do should be very careful. The higher and mid to high elevation
streams will be easier to wade and you should be able to catch plenty of trout.
Notice that I have revised the recommended flies and strategies below.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
There's a 20 percent chance of showers today after 2pm. It will be partly sunny with a
high near 62. Northwest wind will range from 5 to 10 mph.
Tonight, there's a 20 percent chance of showers before 2am. The low will be around
Sunday will be sunny with a high near 63. North wind will be around 5 mph.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 406 cfs at 2.42 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 458 cfs at 1.82 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 79 cfs at 2.46 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but is still high
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: Customers
reported they are high but should be wadable today provided you use caution.
Current Recommended Streams:
Cataloochee Creek would still be my number one preference There will be crowds of
visitors looking at the leaves and elk, but if you get off the roads you will have plenty
of water to fish by yourself. Little River, Little Pigeon and Greenbrier are down some
but unless you want to fight high water all day, I suggest you fish the higher
elevations. The same is true of the North Carolina side in most cases. The smaller,
higher elevation streams will be safer and easier to wade, and you should be able to
catch plenty of trout.
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18/16
2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Especially good in off color, high water & early/late in the day
Hook Size 6
3. Slate Drakes
Hook Size 10/12
4. Little Yellow Quills
Hook Size 16
5. Great Autumn Brown Sedge:
Hook Size 10
6. Needle Stoneflies
Hook Size 16/18
7. Carpenter Ants, Black
Hook Size 16/18
8. Japanese Beetles
Hook Size 16/14
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, assuming I was fishing a low to mid elevation
stream, I would fish a size 18 Blue-winged Olive nymph. Many of the species of
mayflies called Blue-winged Olives are bi-brooded, meaning they hatch twice a year.
The life cycle is still a year long but there's a spring and fall hatch that occcurs.
These, along with some size 20 and 16 BWO nymphs, are plentiful throughout the
lower to middle elevation streams of the Smokies. They are swimming nymphs that
dart around in short spurts and hide wherever they can. They don't stay wedged up
under the rocks like most of the other mayfly nymphs, the majority of which are
There are still some Slate Drakes hatching in the lower elevations. This will occur off
and on from now into the month of November. If you spot their shucks on the rocks,
switch to a Slate Drake nymph.
Little Yellow Quills are still hatching in some of the higher elevation streams. These
are mostly a mid to high elevation insect, often confused with Light Cahills, but quite
Needle Stoneflies will still be hatching in the mid to high elevations. These are very
narrow, long shaped stoneflies that when in flight, look more like a caddifly than a
stonefly. Like all stoneflies they crawl out of the water in low light conditions to hatch.
The egg layers can provide some great action in the late afternoons.
Great Autumn Brown Sedges, or caddiflies, are hatching. These are large caddis that
hatch during the evening and lay their eggs late in the day and early evenings. If you
camp, you will probably see them around your lights.
Carpenter ants are still 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.
Tips for Beginners:
First learn what food it is you need to be imitating, that should determine what flies
you should be using. It isn't really that complicated. Trout will always focus on and
position themselves in the stream to eat the most plentiful and most available food.
It's natures way for them to expend the least amount of energy to acquire the most
Many anglers, in fact most anglers, try to short cut the process and first try
to determine what flies they need to be using. It's the difference in knowing what you
are doing, and just relying on pure trial and error. It makes the difference in being
consistently successful or having to blame the lack of success on the fish or
Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
Whatever Hits Me:
Thank you for visiting our site. James Marsh, Pending CFO (Chief Fishing Officer)
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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The photo above shows a collection of flies we put together for a
gentleman in our new Master fly box for some Maryland and
Pennsylvania trout streams that he fishes. In this case there are 140
flies that range from a hook size 20 up to a hook size 6. He will use the
fly box as a home storage base and take only the flies he needs at a
particular time with him to a stream in a small fly box. As you can see,
there is plenty of space left in the box for more flies. Not shown is a map
or plan of the fly box that identifies the flies left to right by line. It stays
inside the box so that he can identify each fly until he becomes familiar
with all of them. Example, the top line, left to right,:2 each #14
BWO nymphs, BWO duns, #16 BWO nymphs, BWO emergers, BWO
duns, BWO spinners, #18 BWO nymphs, BWO emergers, BWO duns,
BWO spinners, #20 BWO nymphs and BWO duns or a total of 14
different flies or 28 in total. As an additional advantage, on our website
there is a full page of information on each type of fly, a total of 70 in this
particular case, that explains how, when and where to fish each fly.