Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/5/17
Looks like we will be getting some snow. The odds are low it will amount to much, but
it could come up to an inch or so. It may amount to nothing. The problem from a fly
fishing standpoint is the high temperature isn't going above freezing from today
through the weekend. It will probably only average about 24 degrees. This means
there will be ice in the water around the banks and boulders, and it will be tough to
catch trout.

It isn't impossible to catch them under these conditions. Trout will feed on hatching
midges when the water is just a little above freezing. They won't do it where there's
current, but they will in pockets and outside of the seams in calm water, especially if
the midges collect in clusters. They will actually eat the clusters from the surface but
again, only where there is calm water.

Trout won't hold in current under these conditions and there's a good reason for it. If
they did, they would end up expending more energy than they could acquire food to
replace. If midge clusters occur, it usually happens at the warmest part of the day
and usually when the sun is on the water. The odds of this happening to a great
extent in the park, isn't very good. It is rather common in tailwaters.

A problem many have in understanding trout's behavior in cold water is due to the
fact their metabolism is lower and their need for food is lower. While this is true, it
doesn't mean they won't eat when food is readily available and plentiful. They will eat
as long as they can do it without expending a lot of energy.

Because they require less food to survive, doesn't mean they won't eat all they can
get, and it doesn't mean it has much to do with catching them. I often say, unless you
are a very lousy angler, you don't need for them to try to eat twenty flies. One fly
should be good enough to hook them.

Now, this isn't to say that fishing isn't much tougher in very cold water. It is tough, but
it is far more a matter of presentation than anything. Most of the trout in small
freestone streams like we have in the Smokies, hold up in holes in the bottom where
they can get out of the current, and that is usually underneath fast current. Getting a
small fly, you can't see, down in the holes, you can't see, and allowing it to drift slowly
(same as the speed of the current in the hole on the bottom), isn't easy. High sticking
is the best fishing method to do this. They will also hold up in pockets that are out of
the current, if the water is deep enough to provide cover for them. Often these holes
are in the bottom of the pools, which makes it tough to get a fly to them without them
seeing the leader and/or fly line.

Another misconception, is some think the key is to use large nymphs and add a lot of
weight to get them down on the bottom. The problem with it is the large nymphs are
not out from under the rocks and available for the trout to eat. Very small nymphs
and larva are much more effective and contrary to what many think, will catch the
larger size trout just as well and often better than the larger flies. You can't send a
large nymph flying through a deep hole as fast as current on the surface and catch
many trout. That tends to scare them, more than attract them.

The truth is, many seasoned anglers can't catch trout in fast water, freestone trout
streams when the water is at a very low temperature. One reason is, they don't use
the right methods and techniques, but a more important reason is they don't have
the confidence that it is even possible. They rather blame it on the conditions. By the
way, for those out of town planning a trip to fish the Smokies - I suggest you wait for
a better day. There will be plenty of good ones ahead.

Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)  
Today, there is a 20 percent chance of showers after 4pm. It will be cloudy with a
high near 42. Wind will be from the west around 5 mph in the afternoon. Tonight's
low will be around 25. A slight chance of rain and snow showers before 7pm, then
snow showers likely. The chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of
less than a half inch is possible.

Friday, there's a 40 percent chance of snow. It will be cloudy with a high near 30.
North wind will range from  5 to 10 mph. Friday night there's a 50 percent chance of
snow. The low will be around 17.

Saturday, there's a 20 percent chance of snow. It will be partly sunny, with a high
near 29. North wind will be around 5 mph. Saturday night will be mostly clear, with a
low around 10.

Sunday, will be sunny, with a high near 27.




Smoky Mountain Stream Conditions:
The streams with links that have nearby USGS Station Real-time stream data: Click
the links to see updates
:

Little River:  Rate 154 cfs at 1.95 ft. (I don't think this one is working correctly)
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 372 cfs at 1.66 ft.
(good wading up to 500 cfs and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 53 cfs at 2.31 ft
(good wading conditions up to 125 with extra caution up to 150 cfs)

Little Pigeon River: It is flowing a little below a normal level.

Hazel Creek and the other larger NC streams flowing into Fontana Lake:
They should be flowing a little below a normal level.

Recommended Trout Flies:

Brown and White Belly Sculpins:
Hook Size 6

Black and/or Olive Matuka Sculpin:
Size 4, 6, 8

Blue-winged olives: 20, and 18
(Little BWOs,
Acentrella, Diphetor, Eastern
and baetis BWOs,
nymphs
emergers
duns
spinners

Cream Midges - size 20/22
larva
pupa
adults

Winter Stoneflies: 16/18
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:
Not all of the insects you see above will be hatching in the same location. It is usually
only two or three. It varies with the elevation. Some are just starting in the low
elevations and some about finished in the higher elevations. If you fished the day or
two before and know where something is hatching, fish the nymph or larva stage of
it. If you haven't fished the day or two before, until I spotted something hatching, I
would fish the BWO nymph. If you spot something hatching (coming off the water),
change to the appropriate emerger, dun or adult imitations of the insect.

Tips for Beginners:
Don't let anyone intimidate you by contending
that fly fishing is more difficult to learn and
master than other types of fishing. It isn't.

Tips for the Self Proclaimed Experts:
None


Thank you for visiting our website

James Marsh
Copyright 2017 James Marsh
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