Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 12/10/14
Today is going to be a little chilly but after today, the weather is going to ease back
up into the high forties to about fifty degrees by Saturday. Your looking at water
temperatures in the lower elevations ranging from the high thirties to the low to mid
forties. You will need to use size 18 or 20 BWO nymphs, or Cream midge larvae and
pupae imitations. Some of the locals are just beginning to catch on to the fact midges
work in the park as well as tailwaters. They are not near as plentiful as they are in
many tailwaters, spring creeks and stillwaters, but there are plenty of non-burrowing
larvae and they usually exist in the slow sections of water where the trout hold out of
the current when the water is cold. You can catch plenty of trout in cold water but you
won't do it using traditional nymphing methods of fishing.
Another large fly shop bit the dust recently. Anglers Workshop of Washington,
both a large retail fly shop and rod building retail and wholesale outlet, recently
closed down. They claimed to have sold out to an Illinois tackle shop, but in my
opinion, it was more or less, just a means of dumping their inventory. You would think
with all the expansion of the larger chains of fishing retailers such as Bass Pro and
Cabelas, that things are on the up-swing - that is, until you talk to the buyers who will
quickly tell you it is the Internet that is producing the most business.
The traditional manufacturer, representative, wholesaler/distributor, retail fly shop
chain of doing business (all adding to the profit and therefore, cost) in the ninch
markets of the fishing world, is dead and headed to the gone category. I don't
see how mon and pop fly shops will ever have a chance of making it. Online sales will
continue to increase, but that will basically be from the manufacturers directly to the
customers with most all of the product imported. Actually, that's currently the majority
of the fishing product sales already, and by the way, along with most everything
The Clinch River - Part 2
This continues yesterday's article about Tennessee's Clinch River. As mentioned
yesterday, there are a lot of other insects in the Clinch that I didn't cover yesterday.
There's also some terrestrials that the trout feed on to some extend and sometimes
imitations of them are effective. Here again, if the trout are newly stocked, they would
probably eat about anything small that resembles any kind of food.
There are not a lot of caddis in the Clinch as compared with most other tailwaters.
Caddisflies are a the most major insect in some eastern tailwaters but not the Clinch.
There are a few species, most of which exist about as far downstream as the trout
live. One of the better hatches, although not very large and prolific, is the Little Black
Caddis. These are called American Grannoms, and are Brachycentrus species.
These are cased caddis often called short-horned caddis because of their short
antennae. These hatch almost like most mayflies, or mid-stream. Trout can be
caught by imitating the accenting pupae and adults prior to them departing the water.
They can be caught just as well or even better when they females are laying eggs.
The problem is the hatch is short in duration and usually sparse.
During the warm part of the season, there are at least three species of what is
commonly called Cinnamon Caddis, although they are not exactly a Cinnamon Color.
These are net-spinning caddis and neither of these species are very prolific. For
those who may want to know, these are Hydropsyche species. This is partly to do
with the colder than normal water and you will almost always find the majority of them
in the lower sections of the river. They rely on plankton for food. There are also at
least one species of Little Sister Caddis, but again, like their big sisters, they don't
provide very prolific hatches. For those who may want to know, these are
Cheumatopsyche species. There are actually at least a couple more species of
caddisflies but I don't think they are very significant.
Aquatic worms are very plentiful in the Clinch and my guess is they probably
represent a substantial part of the trout's diet. Some of these are Nematodes, or
slender worms, some are Horsehair worms, and some are aquatic earthworms. There
are a few leeches in the Clinch and normally they provide a part of the trout's diet in
streams where they exist. I haven't taken samples from the trout's stomachs and to
know for sure, that needs done year-round and on the different trout species.
There are a lot of freshwater snails in the Clinch. There are both Mollusea and
Gastropoda species but this is something I know little about. I'm not sure what part of
the diet of the trout they play on the Clinch, but do in many other trout streams I'm
There are plenty of Crane Flies. We have caught trout on our Perfect Fly Crane fly
larva imitation on the Clinch, but we have not tried our adult crane fly pattern. I feel
certain it would work when they are lots of them on the water.
Black Flies are in the Clinch River in large quantities. I know for a fact that trout eat
plenty of them. I wished they would eat them all, but I guess that's impossible. I don't
think the Clinch comes up to the South Holston in that respect, but I'm positive you
can catch trout on them, especially during the winter, or cold months of the year. We
have Perfect Fly patterns in hook sizes 18 and 20 for the Black Fly pupa, larva and
adults. We have fly patterns for everything I am mentioning on the Clinch. I'm just
trying not to turn this into a fly sale promotion as such.
Although we haven't used Black Fly imitations on the Clinch, we have caught lots of
trout on the South Holston on them. We designed them after samples of the real
things from the South Holston, to be as close as practical. We have lots of customers
that use them on the South Holston with very good success. They seem to be
catching on, on a lot of other tailwaters from the east to the west coast.
We have caught samples of the Great Olive Wing Dun, or Hexagenia limbata. These
are in many other southern rivers and lakes. They are lots of them in Guntersville
Lake. I don't doubt that there are other large drake mayfly species, especially further
downstream where the water is a little warmer on the average. It takes a lot of digging
and hard work to find their nymphs. They are burrowers.
There are also plenty of Damselflies and Dragonflies on the Clinch, mostly in the
lower sections of the river. I haven't tried fishing imitations of the nymphs there but
we did find plenty in the stream samples. The nymphs of both of these can be
important at times, mostly in spring creeks and stillwater. We have Perfect Fly
imitations of both the adults and nymphs of both types of insects.
Last but certainly not least, Baitfish and Sculpin. There are several different species
that can be important but the Threadfin Shad, Black Nose Dace, and Sculpin are the
I'm sure I've missed a food or two, but I will assure you I have covered the great
majority. To help simplify things, I will put it this way. I think the most important
foods to imitate on the Clinch, at the right time and place, of course, in order
of their overall importance are Baitfish, Midges, Scuds, Sowbugs, Black
Flies, Pale Evening Duns, Sulphurs, Little Black Caddis and that's about all I
would care to try to try to categorize. As you have read, there are lots of other
foods that at the right time and place can be important. Remember, the trout are
always going to focus on eating the most plentiful and available food at the time and
place. That is nature's way of them surviving. That is always what you want to try to
Tomorrow, I'll touch on the importance of presentation on the Clinch and trust me, it
is very, very important. I say "touch" because I could write a thick book on that
subject and it isn't an easy one to write about as far as showing someone various
techniques and different presentations. Always keep this in mind. It doesn't matter
what fly you have tied on. If it isn't well presented to imitate the behavior of
the natural you are trying to imitate, it isn't going to work very well.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, there's a chance of snow showers and freezing rain before 8am. It will be
mostly cloudy with a high near 39. Northwest wind will be from 5 to 10 mph. The
chance of precipitation is 30%. Tonight's low will be around 27.
Thursday, will be mostly sunny with a high near 45. Calm wind will change to come
out of the northwest around 5 mph.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 251 cfs at 2.04 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 408 cfs at 173 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 it was about normal
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: One of our
customers reported it back to normal.
Current Recommended Streams: I would fish the lower elevation streams.
Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18
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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