Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 11/21/14
I had a couple of email questions asking how the recent high water levels affected
the brown and brook trout spawn. In case others care to hear my opinion, I answered
First of all, I do not know the effects of the high water levels for sure, and I can only
make what I consider an educated guess. I don't think anyone knows exactly
how the high water affected the spawn. The brook trout were about finished
spawning when the high water came. Some brookies were probably still spawning in
the lowest elevations they exist in, and those could have been adversely affected. I
don't think the great majority of the redds, eggs, or fry were adversely affected.
Both the brook and brown trout cover their eggs with small gravel and sand, and
that's to protect them from being eaten by other fish as well as strong stream
currents. If the eggs had already hatched, the fry probably took a ride downstream
and may have been killed, or very well may have been able to hold and survive in
areas of the water that didn't have strong current. I don't think that can be
substantiated at this time. The only true test will come from stream samplings taken
by the park fishery managers a few months from now. They should be able to
compare the numbers, sizes, etc., to data from past years.
I seriously doubt the brown trout spawn was affected as much as it would have been
if the heavy rain and high water levels had not occurred. I think some guys that I am
reluctant to call anglers, would have caused more damage to the redds during low
water levels than high water and strong currents. The effects of high water levels
depends on many factors, including the exact stage of the spawn at the time of the
strong current, and to some extent, the exact location of the redd within the stream. I
just know that most of the redds are easy to spot when the water levels are low, and I
also know that most, and yes I said "most' guys that are out fishing and particularly
those that stalk spawning fish would not leave them alone. I also know there are
some guys that damage to the redds not meaning too, by wading through them,
unaware their exist.
The park biologists continue to say anglers have very little adverse affect on the
trout populations and I'm sure that's true. To some extent, that is like saying the
environmental conditions are responsible for 80% of the trout that die each year, so
there's no use in keeping anglers from killing an additional 20% of the population by
allowing them to keep fish, fish during spawning seasons, etc. etc. If they are right in
their management regulations (or lack thereof), it sure makes a lot of other
fishery managers of similar streams that have "catch and release"" regulations
and/or that close the season during the spawn, look stupid. Of course, those
responsible for both types of regulations would argue there are substantial
differences that justify their particular regulations.
The fish populations and sizes that live in the streams of the Smokies seem to stay in
good shape, and I am certainly not condemning anyone, or any of the regulations, or
lack thereof. It is just my opinion that the National Park shouldn't allow the
killing of fish anymore than they should allow hunting - the killing of deer,
wild turkey, and other animals. "Catch and release" caught on in most places in
this country several years ago, but there are still some fishery managers that are
years behind in their thinking. Allowing fish to be taken does one thing well - it keeps
a lot of people turning their nose up at the sport of fishing. After all, there are
fishermen and there are sport fishermen.
My neurologist told me he no longer goes fly fishing because his wife complained
about the smell in her kitchen. Although he spent several hundred dollars on fly
fishing gear, and actually caught some trout, he gave up the sport. Yes, he is
obviously hen pecked, but I think he was more concerned about the image he was
displaying. He just assumed the norm was to keep the trout and eat them. He got
the idea it was normal to keep fish from the park fishing regulations. Such
regulations set a bad image and hurts the sport of fishing.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today in Gatlinburg, will be sunny with a high near 50. Calm wind will come from the
north around 5 mph in the afternoon. Tonight's low will be about 30.
Saturday will be partly sunny with a high near 57 with calm wind. Saturday Night's low
will be around 39. There is a 50% chance of rain Saturday night.
Sunday, there's a chance of rain, then rain and possibly a thunderstorm after 8am.
The high will be near 59. Wind will be from the southeast at 10 to 20 mph with gust to
30 mph. The chance of precipitation is 90%.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 254cfs at 2.05 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 327 cfs at 1.57 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 63 cfs at 2.37 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby but it was almost normal
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: I think the
stream are in good shape.
Current Recommended Streams: I would fish the lower elevation streams
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18/16
2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6
3. Cream Midges: 20/22
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.
If the water is below 43 degrees, I would switch to a Cream Midge larva and Cream
Midge Pupa tandem rig, with the larva the bottom fly and the pupa above it.
If you spot something hatching, it will most likely be Cream Midges or small
Blue-winged Olives. Switch to the adult Cream Midge, if it is midges hatching, or the
BWO Dun or emerger, if it is the BWOs.
Tips for Beginners:
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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