Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Report 01/20/17
I think this warm weather spell has caught many of the fly fishing anglers in the
Southeast off guard. In spite of the very warm weather and good stream levels, as
best I can determine, not many are taking advantage of it. I'm sure the normal things
most people do in life, like work, is interfering with it. I checked our orders for this
month and so far, they are no more than last January's at this point. They normally
would have increased at least 25% from last year; however, when you look at the
overall picture, I guess we are lucky to be where we are. Here's why.

Weather is always the biggest factor in the number of anglers that are fishing.
Currently, most all tailwaters are high, not only here, but in the mid-Atlantic, and
mid-west. Most all the streams, tailwaters and freestones, are blown out in the
southwest, California, and the northwestern Pacific states, where we normally get
most of our orders at this time of the year. In some cases, the streams are not just
blown out, flooded is a better word.

In a nutshell, from a fly fishing standpoint, the weather is badly messed up
everywhere but the mid-atlantic and southeast, an in that case, it is so unusual,
anglers are not ready for it. Normally, nothing but tailwaters would be in good
enough shape to fish in the mid-atlantic and southeast. I guess the best way to put it
is that everything is almost the opposite of what it normally at this time of the year.

I will keep this up another day. It was written on Wednesday:
There are some little Blue-winged olives hatching that are probably non-baetis
species. The are some little black caddis at the lowest elevations, but below where
trout exist. There are some midges hatching.

I know for a fact, that the wing pads of the Blue Quill and Quill Gordons cannot be
fully developed in water where trout exist. There are always some hatches that occur
downstream of where trout exist well before they do in the park where wild trout exist,
or in other words, warmer water. Keep in mind,
that It is common for hatches to
start a week or two before our hatch chart shows, as well as a week or two after the
schedule shows them starting. That written, I don't doubt that this may change before
the warm weather spell ends.

Here is the hatch chart I'm referring too. It covers the calendar, winter season.
We  developed it for the park a few year back. Keep in mind, it is based on what the
average conditions, or what is most likely to occur. Also, keep in mind, the most
deviations we see in it occurs in the late winter and/or early Spring. Notice that other
than Midges, little non-
baetis BWO species, and Winter Stoneflies should be
hatching. It shows the Little Brown stoneflies and
baetis species of BWOs starting to
hatch the second week of February. It shows the Little Black Caddis (not those
above that are hatching) start the third week, and Quill Gordons the 4th week of
February.

Day before yesterday, was the beginning of the 3rd week of January. That means
the little Brown stoneflies and
baetis species of BWOs, would normally be starting to
hatch 3 weeks from now. Little Black Caddis and Blue-quills would normally begin 4
weeks from yesterday. Quill Gordons normally start hatching about 5 weeks from
yesterday. Keeping in mind, that hatches beginning two weeks ahead of this
schedule are common. We have seen that happen at least 3 or 4 years in the last 16
years. Now, keeping in mind that this very unseasonable warm spell is speeding up
the growth and development of the nymphs and larvae, it isn't unrealistic to think
they could start another week or two before they have started in the past. It gets
down to the fact that the one-year life cycle of the insects is very unlikely to end
much over a month short of a year or the normal cycle. This is rather silly, but to try
to make the point, it would be similar to a human baby being born at 8 months old or
less.

We have at least another full week of very warm weather ahead, and then it should
drop down to about normal temperatures for this time of the year. Some forecast are
saying there will be a very cold spell that takes place soon. That can offset some of
the effects of the warm weather period. It is difficult to pin-pint anything about it,
especially since the water temperature varies with the different streams and
elevations of a stream. For example, Quill Gordons don't hatch all at once in a week
or so. The hatch starts at the lowest elevations and a good ways outside the park
and moves upstream as the water warms. It last only a few days, about a week on
the average, at any one point or elevation. The overall hatch may last a month or
more.

I think it is realistic that Little Brown stoneflies and
baetis species of BWOs could
start hatching in wild trout waters anytime from now to another week or so. I think it is
realistic to think hatches of Blue-quills and Little Black Caddis could start within the
next week. It probably stretches it some, but there could be hatches of Quill Gordons
starting in trout waters within a week to ten days. The Blue-quills and Quill Gordons
start very near the same time.

Keep in mind that in addition to what I have written, there are specific water
temperatures at which these insects actually emerge (hatch). The Blue Quiills and
Quill Gordons start emerging when the water reaches 50 degrees for two or three
days in a row, provided they are fully developed. It doesn't make any difference if it is
in Maine or Georgia. In other words, the instantaneous water temperature is also a
big factor.

I'm basing this on about 12 years of studying this from coast to coast and probably
more within the park than anywhere, not a week or two, but for about 200 or more
days a year. I'm also basing it on all the professional entomology books on aquatic
insects, as well as about all of everything written about insects from a  trout fishing
standpoint. These books number around a hundred or more. I'm also basing it on
discussions and verifications I have had from several professional entomologist. The
problem with that is, except from a teaching profession, there are few jobs dealing in
aquatic entomology. Simply put, there's no money in it. Most of them have had only a
very few courses in it in college, and that's about it. For the past few years, the
Smoky Mountain National Park has had a person dealing with the aquatic insects,
and as far as I can determine from what I read, is doing a good job of it. I'm sure it
isn't being done from a fly fishing standpoint, but certainly should help.

What you should do, is go ahead and get the flies you need to cover the late
winter hatches. In addition to midges, winter stonefies, and little size 20 BWOs, you
should have size 18 BWO nymphs, emergers, duns and spinners, Little Black Caddis
larva and pupa, Little Brown stonefly nymphs and adults, Blue Quill nymphs,
emergers, duns and spinners, and Quill Gordon, nymphs, emerging duns (wet fly),
duns and spinners. You don't need the spinners unless you fish to near dark. Send
me an email and I will send you a list of links to the flies or put a selection together
for you.
sales@perfectflystore.com

Weather: (At Gatlinburg at about 1600 ft)  
Today, expect a high near 66. South wind will be from 5 to 10 mph becoming west
later on. The chance of precipitation is 80%. Tonight's low will be around 52.

Saturday, there's a chance of showers between 8am and 2pm, then showers and
thunderstorms likely after 2pm. The high will be near 65. South wind will be around 5
mph. The chance of precipitation is 60%. Saturday night's low will be around 51. The
chance of precipitation is 70%.

Sunday, expect showers and possibly a thunderstorm. The high will be near 62.
Southeast wind will be around 5 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.




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 156 cfs at 1.96 ft.
(good wading conditions up to 250 cfs, and with extra caution up to 400 cfs
)

Oconaluftee River: Rate 286 cfs at 1.48 ft.
(good wading up to 500 cfs and with extra caution up to 700 cfs)

Cataloochee Creek: Rate 49 cfs at 2.28 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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