Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 11/04/14
If you look at the stream levels below, you will see that Little River rose some since
yesterday morning, and so did the Oconaluftee River. It didn't rain a drop. That
makes the U.S.G.S. stream level data bogus, right? No, it is from melting snow. The
park had a heavy snowfall and the melting snow is keeping the stream levels up and
Have you noticed that some self proclaimed experts advise you to fish the sunny
areas of the streams when the water is cold? Well, unless you want to consider a
millionth of a degree warmer a factor, it makes no difference. The water is moving
and it is all the same temperature at any given point. Pockets of water, with little to no
current can be affected but the great majority of the stream isn't. Of course, the
elevation makes a difference, but water in the sunlight versus underneath the shade
of the trees is all about the same temperature. If the water was still, it would make a
What does make a difference in that situation, shade versus bright sunlight, is the
light itself. It is very easy to get into trouble making blank statements about fishing,
especially general statements about fishing, because there's almost always
exceptions. However, I would like to mention that normally, as far as feeding goes,
the bright light does affect the brown trout more than the rainbow trout. Right now the
browns are in the pre-spawn mode and possibly spawning in the highest elevations
they are present, and light makes no difference other than it probably makes them
more cautious and less secure. They have love on their minds, not eating.
Normally, when the fish are not in the spawning cycle, the browns stay in a low light
situation, wedged up under the rocks and banks of the stream in bright conditions.
They tend to be nocturnal. Rainbows, to some extent feel safer in the shade, but
when food is available for them to eat, such as emerging aquatic insects, they will
feed directly in the bright sunlight just about as well as they will in low light conditions.
There's something I need to add to this, however. Normally, fewer aquatic insects
hatch on bright, clear days than they do on overcast days and in low light situations.
Now, everyone is probably completely confused.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today will be nice and sunny with a high near 67. Calm wind will come out of the
southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Tonight's low will be around 44.
Wednesday, we can expect a 20 percent chance of showers after 1pm. It will be
partly sunny with a high near 66. Southwest wind will be around 5 mph. There's a
70% chance of rain Wednesday night.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 148 cfs at 1.71 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 238 cfs at 1.36 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 50 cfs at 2.29 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 in good shape but getting a
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: Customers
reported Hazel was in good shape as of yesterday.
Current Recommended Streams:
You should fish the lower elevations where trout exist today.
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.
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 clingers.
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.
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) Perfect Fly
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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