03/26/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis) - sparse hatches
2. Blue Quills - hatching
3. Quill Gordons - hatching
4. Hendricksons - could start any day now - nymphs are important
5. Little Black Caddis - hatching
6. Little Brown Stoneflies - hatching
7. Midges - hatching in isolated locations
8. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

The Hendricksons and Red Quills:
I am not finished with fly rods. I just realized that in order to stay ahead of the
hatches in the Smokies, I had better start on the Hendricksons and Red Quills.
They will probably start hatching within a week or two. This genus (group) of
mayflies is probably the most complex and misunderstood of them all even though it
consist of only one species, the
subvaria. It is a part of the huge Ephemerellidae
family of mayflies and the huge
Ephemerella genus. To help simplify the latin, this is
a crawler mayfly that is in the same group as the Sulfurs and western Pale Morning
Duns. Although there are not that many of them in the Smokies, they are very
important. If you are fishing where they are hatching, you may find the trout not
willing to take anything but a fairly close imitation of them. I have found the trout
feeding selectively on this mayfly in the Smokies far more than any other. My guess
is that it is due to the fact the trout can eat them with ease much more than the
clinger mayflies like the Quill Gordons and American March Browns. Even the
stoneflies are clingers and they too are not that easy for the trout to acquire. The
Hendrickson nymphs and emerging nymphs can be picked off similar to the way we
eat boiled shrimp - about as fast as we want to eat them.

The reason there are not many of these mayflies is because there is not much
water that is suitable for them in the smokies. They like moderate water than it
flowing well but steady and smooth, not plunging or turbulent water like that found
in the runs of the Smoky streams. They can live in parts of the riffles where the
water flows moderately but there is usually not much of it. They also like the tail
ends of pools if the water is flowing moderately. The nymphs stay about as exposed
as any mayfly nymph except for the swimmers but unlike the swimmers, they can't
dart away and hide from trout. They don't get under the rocks like the clingers.
When they hatch, they are sitting ducks for the trout. The trout can get at the end
of a current seam that is collecting the emerging nymphs and just pick them off as
fast as they drift by.

Although I have been writing about the emergence of the Hendricksons, that is not
the most important stage of the hatch. The spinner fall is main event. But before I
get into any more details, I better straighten out what confuses many anglers from
the very beginning. The Red Quill and the Hendrickson are not two different
mayflies. They are the same one. The Hendrickson is the correct common name of
the mayflies. The Red Quill is a common name used for several different species of
mayflies including the sulphur and even the Quill Gordons in some cases. Many
spinners turn a dark rusty reddish color. The Hendrickson "Red Quill" refers to the
male spinners. When they mate with the female spinners above the water, the red
quills fall dead and drop to the water almost instantly. The female spinners, which
are much lighter and not a dark rusty red color, develop their eggs and deposit
them shortly thereafter.

What is so different about these mayflies and most others is the fact the female and
male duns and the female and male spinners are completely different colors. The
males and female Hendricksons are so different you will find the male nymphs and
the female nymphs to be in different areas of the stream. They congregate
separately. I'll get into the way you fish the hatch starting tomorrow.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh