Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/28/15
I noticed on the morning news, it was a DDD that landed the drone on the White
House lawn - a government employee at that. I guess we may have our first DWI
handed out to a DDD, or drunk drone driver. On second thought, maybe not. He
wasn't onboard. It reminds me of a fishing tale that took place at Walkers Cay in the
Bahamas that I may write about later. No, I wasn't drunk and nether was Jim Busby
who was flying his model airplane with an 8 foot wing span over the Cay, filled with
about a half billion dollars of sportfishing yachts. I was video taping Jim and the
airplane from the life boat we borrowed from his 54 Bertram. What he said on camera
is very funny.  It suddenly hit him of the liability involved in what we were doing..

I noticed the stream levels have fell back down to good levels. I do not like high,
"cold" water at all. It makes it much tougher to present the fly in slower moving water
that in most cases, is beneath faster moving water. At least the falling levels are
helping a little. It is cold (at 6:30 AM only 25 degrees in Gatlinburg) and I don't think
the lower levels is going to make very much difference. I'm really just struggling to
make any positive points regarding the fishing conditions. I have a good idea you
may find some Winter Stoneflies crawling around the banks of the streams today.
You can also look for them on the black payment of any roads close to the streams.
The black holds the heat and they seem to be able to detect that because it isn't
uncommon to see them on the payment. By the way, they are near the same color,
either dark brown or black. Tip of the moment: If I were going to fish in the park
today, I would head straight for upper Abrams Creek.

Today will be mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny with a high near 38.
Northwest wind will be around 5 mph. Tonight's low will be around 23.

Thursday, will be much better, although there is a 40 percent chance of showers,
mainly after 1pm. We should have Increasing clouds with a high near 50. Southeast
wind will range from 5 to 10 mph.

I am continuing the articles I wrote back in 2012 on Winter Stoneflies.

Little Winter Stoneflies - Part Three
The Capniidae family of stoneflies represents one of the few groups of aquatic
insects that emerge and are available to the trout to eat when the water is very cold.
Although these are classified as "Little Brown Stoneflies", I've found that most of them
in the streams of the Smokies are various shades of brown, which probably accounts
for why anglers refer to them using a variety of different common names ranging from
"Little Blacks", to "Little Browns, to "Little Winter" stoneflies to "Snowflies". They get
the "Snowfly" name due to the contrast in color with the snow. They are easy to spot
crawling around on the snow.

Species of the this family are fairly easy to recognize in their adult stage of life
because they are the only ones in the group of “Little Browns” that have long tails.
You may find them walking on snow near the banks of the streams or in the Smokies,
more often, on rocks, boulders, and stream-side vegetation.      

Trout can be taken on imitations of the nymphs of these little stoneflies. Imitations of
the adults are sometimes productive but trout are not very prone to rise to the
surface to eat the egg laying females when they are depositing their eggs in very
cold water.

One good thing about stoneflies is that you don't have to know them down to the
species because they all behave very similarly. Also, you only need to know two
stages of their life - the nymph and the adult stage. Like all stoneflies, the nymphs of
the Little Winter Stoneflies crawl out of the water to hatch. The stonefly nymph
imitation is always a good choice for early season, cold water fishing. With the
exception of midges, these little stoneflies are about the only insect you will find
hatching in water that's below forty degrees.

There's one rule you should always keep in mind when you are fishing an imitation of
the Winter Stonefly nymph or for that matter, any stonefly nymph. Keep it on the
bottom and bring it towards the banks. That's what the naturals do when they hatch.
That's also where the trout are looking for them. Depending on the species and the
weather, when they get out of the water, they shed their nymphal shuck and either
crawl or fly away.

The best area of the stream to present the fly is near the banks. They may travel to
the banks from well out in the stream, but one thing for certain is the fact they're
going to crawl out on the banks to hatch. The only exception to this is that they also
crawl out on larger rocks and boulders that protrude out of the water to hatch.

In the pocket water of the Smokies, in most cases, you should use an upstream
presentation. Add plenty of split shot weight a few inches above the fly. If your fishing
from the banks, stay back away from the edge of the water a few feet to prevent
spooking trout that are looking for them close to the banks. Cast upstream and try to
cover the bottom near the bank. When you cover a section of bottom, take a few
steps upstream, and cover a different area of bottom near the bank.

When wading, stay out in the middle of the stream and cover the banks the same
way. Make up and across presentations and let the fly swing downstream near the
bank, keeping it on the bottom. Mend your line as necessary to help keep in down. In
either case, fishing from the bank or wading, make sure you cover the bottom area
very near the banks. Trout will sometimes take the fly within a foot or two of the bank.

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 240 cfs at 2.01 ft..
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 398 cfs at 1.72 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 500 cfs, and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 83 cfs at 2.48 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 getting near normal
yesterday afternoon.

Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake. My guess
is they are most likely near normal levels.

Current Recommended Streams: Abrams Creek

Recommended Trout Flies:
1. Blue-winged Olives:
Hook Size 20/18
nymphs
emergers
duns
spinners

2. Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6

3. Cream Midges: 20/22
larva
pupa
adults

4. Winter Stoneflies: 16/18
nymphs
adults

5.
Little Brown Stoneflies: 14
nymphs
adults

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.
Strategy:
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 and Little Brown stoneflies will start very soon, if not already.

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:
Learn to imitate the most plentiful and available insects and other foods at the time
you are fishing, or continue to use trial and error methods and forever be a mediocre
angler.

Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
None

Whatever Hits Me:
Thank you

James Marsh
Copyright 2015 James Marsh
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