Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 12/20/14
Note: I opened up the site software program this morning and thought about the next
tailwater stream I should write about and noticed for the last three days, I had the
Tuckasegee River, Tennessee, as the title of the last tailwater article. I'm sure lots
of folks got a laugh out of that. Being able to use script from previous post is a big
help and time saver, that is, as long as the person doing isn't off in left field
somewhere. I cannot believe that I have seen those pages for the last three days and
didn't catch it. I try to do things in a very short of time and usually never edit
anything. Of course, stupid errors like that is the results of that. It's very
embarrassing, to say the least.
At 4:38 AM this morning, I think it was sleeting at our home in Pigeon Forge. Angie
woke me up (which is very unusual) to tell me she was hearing some strange noises.
She had gone out on the porch to try to figure it out. She said that she couldn't see
anything fall, snow or sleet, but could hear funny noise in the trees. I went out there
with her for a couple of minutes while the coffee was brewing, and I think it was sleet
hitting the trees, but melting before it hit the ground. It was a little strange, hearing
the noise but not being able to see anything falling to the ground. On second
thought, it was probably sticking to the trees as freezing rain. It is still dark and I'm not
sure what's going on. Looking at the radar, I don't think much of anything, other than
rain, is to be expected for the next four hours or so. The higher elevations in the
Smokies are getting plenty of snow and ice. I'm sure some of the roads will be closed
for a while this morning. It should turn out to be pretty nice later on in the morning.
Nantahala River, North Carolina, part 1:
Nantahala River is born in the National Forest on Standing Indian Mountain from a lot
of small tributary streams with brook trout. You have to hike a long way to fish them.
From Mooney Falls downstream for about six miles, unpaved Forest Service Road
#67 follows the stream. It's still small and in a canyon-like area part of the way.
There are two campground along that section of the river. Below the lower
campground, Standing Indian Campground, highway #64 follows the stream. The
lower section of the river, above Nantahala Lake, is mostly on private property.
Below Nantahala Lake, the river changes drastically, Most of the water is discharged
from the lake through a pipe to a powerhouse at the upper end of
Nantahala Gorge, a distance of seven miles. The only water that comes out of the
lake otherwise, comes through the spillway and that often amounts to little to no
water. The only water in this seven mile stretch comes from small tributary streams,
so there's usually not much water in this section. This section of the river is stocked.
At the end of that section, from Appletree Campground on highway #1401
downstream, there's another three and a half miles of water that's within the National
Forest Land. Its main source of water comes from White Oak Creek. Below White
Oak the stream is heavily stocked. The section downstream from White Oak Creek
to the Powerhouse falls is under North Carolina's "Delayed Harvest" Regulations and
since I'm writing about alternate winter-time fishing destinations near the Smokies,
that part of the Nantahala is really what this is about. It can be accessed from State
road #1310 (Ball Road) which turns off Highway #19. The road takes you to the
powerhouse. The "Delayed Harvest" section starts above the powerhouse. The
Nantahala is still a relatively small stream in the DH area.
When the water comes out the pipeline at the powerhouse, the flow of the river
increases big time. It flows for about eight miles through the Nantahala Gorge and is
also an area that's very popular with those who float the whitewater on rafts. Of
course, when the dam isn't generating, the water doesn't gush from the pipe and
this part of the river is a moderately flowing stream that can be waded. When it is
flowing, it's almost impossible to wade it. This section of the river is heavily stocked
and contains a lot of holdover trout. It is very easy to access. Highway #19 follows
closely along the river. I will continue this tomorrow.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, you can expect rain and snow before 10am, then a slight chance of rain
between 10am and 1pm. It will be cloudy with a high near 47. The wind will be from
the northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. The chance of precipitation is 60%.
Little or no snow accumulation is expected. Tonight's low will be around 32.
Sunday, there's a 20 percent chance of rain after 4pm. It will be partly sunny with a
high near 51. The wind will be calm. There's a 60% chance of rain Sunday night.
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data:
Little River: Rate 136 cfs at 1.67 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 261 cfs at 1.42 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 56 cfs at 2.33 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 low, butin good shape
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake: They are a
little low, but 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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