03/12/09

1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis) - sparse hatches
2. Blue Quills - hatching
3. Quill Gordons - hatching
4. Hendricksons - could start within a couple more weeks
5. Little Black Caddis - hatching
6. Winter Stoneflies - sparse hatches
7. Little Brown Stoneflies - hatching
8. Midges - hatching in isolated locations
9. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

Update on Fishing Conditions
We are receiving a tremendous amount of email with a lot of questions pertaining to
"what to expect" from the fishing in the Smokies. Some are writing that they are
planning trips to come within the next month and some are just thinking about it. I
haven't received the first question or reference from anyone that has actually
fished the park within the last few days. What someone is or is not catching now
has no affect on what you may catch a week or two from now. It doesn't even have
any effect on what you may catch today or tomorrow.

The purpose of our new addition of "Planning" pages was to assist in that regard,
but at this point, it just seems to be creating more questions. I guess that is par for
the course, or maybe it is a good thing. Maybe it is getting the attention of a lot of
site visitors.

Most of the questions lately came from buzz on the web that anglers have picked up
from other sites "fishing reports" and "blogs". I have warned about "fishing reports"
several times and I even keep a
paragraph at the bottom of this page pertaining to
that. About all I can say is that if you pay much attention to reports and blog
comments, you may never want to come to the Smokies to fish. It is just a fact that
even on the best days of fishing Mother Nature has to offer, there are going to be a
lot of very disappointed anglers. Just because conditions are great doesn't mean
trout are just going to jump on your fly as if you were fishing a stocked trout pond.
Just because someone caught twenty yesterday on a Purple Goat doesn't mean
you will.

Fishing conditions have been very good in the Smokies for the last several days.
We have fished at least a hour or more every day but one. We have found it very
easy to catch trout, especially when we didn't try to force them to eat dry flies when
nothing was hatching. Up until yesterday, the skies have been clear and bright and
the hatches have been short in duration as a result. Entomologist have studied this
effect for years and have come up with a lot of speculation but little fact as to why
hatches are shorter under bright sky conditions and longer during foul weather
days. Some species of aquatic insects seem to be more affected than others.
Blue-winged Olives seem to hatch for hours on bad weather days and less than an
hour on bright clear days.

During the days when the skies are clear and bright and the hatches are short and
light, the trout still feed and feed just as much as they would otherwise. The
difference is in "where" they feed. They feed mostly subsurface on the nymphs and
larvae of those insects about to hatch. One guy ask if the trout were feeding at
night due to the full moon conditions and if that was why the fishing blogs were
reporting lousy fishing. Again, we have found it about as easy as it ever gets to
catch trout during the last few days. I have said many times before that when fishing
gets to be fairly easy or 'good' as many want to call it, the excuses anglers come up
with always change. It is usually that the water is too high or low, or too cold or
warm, but when those environmental conditions are not a factor, the excuses just
change to something else. Anglers will never run out of them.

To put it as bluntly as I can, if you are only concerned with numbers of fish caught,
don't fish a dry fly when the trout are not feeding on the surface. Fish a nymph.
Yes, you can still catch some trout when they are not obviously eating on the
surface but your odds are just much lower. Fish when and where the fish are most
likely eating. Many anglers are confused by the insects they see during the day. If
you are seeing a lot of caddisflies, for example, the ones you are seeing have
already hatched. If you see a lot of them, changes are good you missed the hatch.
They may stay around for a couple of weeks and even longer. The stoneflies you
see on the banks hatched during the night. They too can hang around for a long
time, as long as a week and even longer. When you see these adult flies on the
stream, that basically means you "missed the hatch". Yes, it could also indicates
that the same insect species may still be hatching but for you to be able to take
advantage of those you are seeing on the banks, you are going to have to wait until
they deposit their eggs. Trout don't eat them on the banks. In the case of the
stoneflies, that will be mostly at night.

We only got to fish about an hour yesterday and that was later in the day that I
wanted it to be. I caught a few trout, all rainbows, during that short time. All of them
were caught on a dry fly  - Blue Quill spinner. Yesterday, the conditions were about
as perfect as they can get for fly fishing and I was a little upset that I didn't get to
fish longer but that was not possible for me yesterday. We shipped a huge number
of fly orders out for one thing. I had a doctor's appointment and some other
necessary evils to have to deal with. I am just as tired of cold weather as anyone.

You cannot catch a real live trout off this or anyone else's website. You cannot
catch one if you don't put a fly in the water. In the saltwater fishing world, we used
to  make fun of "radio anglers". That is people that listen in on the VHF radio and
try to run wherever someone reports catching a fish. My only advise is to never rely
on what others report. One simple reason is that what anyone is reporting, if it
happens to be accurate, has already happened. That is done and over with -
history. You cannot and should not ever depend on others. You have to depend on
yourself.

Long range weather forecast for the park look more normal for the next few days
with lows around freezing and highs in the fifties. The expected cloudy, rainy
conditions should be great for the trout and anglers.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh