Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/18/15
I clicked on a link to the weather report for the Smokies, like I do every morning, and
thought it was a broken link. It showed a current temperature of 49 degrees. It wasn't
broken, just scary warm. Tomorrow's high at Gatlinburg will be near 55. That means
Quill Gordons will be hatching, right? No, sorry, the temperature at anyone point in
time, water or air, isn't a direct factor, only an indirect factor. It is the average water
temperature over the time they are eggs and during the growth of the nymphs from
the time they hatch from the eggs until they fully develop that's important. It can vary
as much as two or three weeks from year to year but that's about it. I'll write more
about hatch times soon, but since it is warm, I'll try to cool you of this morning with the
I mentioned yesterday, Derek and some of his friends intentionally scheduled a
camping/backpacking trip into the mountains at the coldest time they could find in a
long range weather forecast. I don't know if they own a goose farm or just want to
prepare for a future trip to the Antarctic. Regardless of their motive, they did come up
with some very neat and interesting pictures.
This picture was taken from the car as they drove up the gravel road to the end of
the Middle Prong Road to set up a shuttle. He thinks it is a frozen Spruce Flats
dumping into Middle Prong.
Smoky Mountain Weather:
Today, we can expect showers, mainly before 10am. It will be mostly cloudy with a
high near 50. West wind will be from 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. The
chance of precipitation is 60%. Tonight's low will be around 31.
M.L.King Day will be mostly sunny with a high near 55. West wind will be around 5 to
Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data: Click
to links to see updates:
Little River: Rate 221 cfs at 1.95 ft..
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)
Oconaluftee River: Rate 377 cfs at 1.68 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)
Cataloochee Creek: Rate 85cfs at 2.49 ft (This gauge is also messed up due to ice)
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)
Little Pigeon River doesn't have a station nearby. It was about normal yesterday
Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. My guess
is they are about normal but I still have no reports.
Current Recommended Streams: Any of the lower elevation streams with trout
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
4. Winter Stoneflies: 16/18
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. Winter stoneflies should begin crawling
out of the water to hatch within the next few days.
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 2015 James Marsh
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This next one is West Prong at the #18 Campsite.
Anthony Creek. It looks like vandals have spray painted the rock in the middle white.
This one is the Anthony Creek Ice Trail, Ice Skating Rink, and Bobsled Course:
One of the headwater springs of the Left Prong of Anthony Creek. Above campsite #10
but below Leadbetter Ridge. Completely frozen.
Looking back to Cades Cove from near the summit of Thunderhead. Does it ever
get any clearer in the Smokies?
Here is a photo from 2011 from the same bridge over West Prong at #18. Either the bridge
has been moved downstream a few feet or I zoomed in a little in 2011. Most times you see a
"cold stream" it is like this photo. The rocks and shore have snow on them from a recent
snow fall. But you can see where the warm water is melting the snow where it makes
contact. Last weekend was just the opposite. There was no snow, but the rocks and creek
were so cold that the water would freeze as soon as it became still around the edges of the
rocks! Another thing we could see all weekend but it is kind of hard to pick out in the photo -
the creeks were definitely still dropping from the hard rain / blowouts from the weekend
before. You could see the icicles on the edges of rocks/shore that formed as creeks
And here is Chris Schwab fording the Middle Prong at Panther Creek on the same trip.
Barefoot, of course! The climb up to Jake's Gap gave us plenty of opportunity to warm the