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 Hendrickson Nymphs
As I said in yesterday's article, the Hendrickson nymphs are very important to
anglers because they are easy for the trout to find and eat. I also mentioned that
they don't exist any and everywhere in the Smokies. They are only in isolated
sections of the streams. However, they exist in most all the streams and where they
do exist, they can usually be found in plentiful quantities. There are just not that
many places you will find them. Look for larger areas of moderately flowing water.
This does not include the large deep pools. They will only be found there at the tail
ends of the pools if the water is flowing moderately and three feet deep or less with
the right bottom composition. Anywhere you find large pockets of not slow and not
fast water that is not extremely shallow or deep, you may find Hendrickson nymphs.
The reason I said "may find" is that the bottom composition needs to be small to
medium size cobble, gravel, or sand as opposed to large rocks. When you do find
these conditions, you will almost always find a good concentration of Hendrickson
If it is the right time of year (from now anytime until the first of May) you may find the
duns along the banks of the stream but the problem with that is the hatch may have
already ended. Be sure and fish the spinner fall. These mayflies don't hatch over a
long period of time in any one area. They will all hatch within a week or two at the
most in any one given section of a stream. From about two weeks up until the time
they do hatch, the nymphs are even more subject to being eaten by trout. They are
so easy for the trout to eat that in the particular section of the stream where the
Hendricksons exist, they will usually abandon any other types of food in favor of
these nymphs. They may feed selectively on the nymphs, emergers, duns and
spinners until the hatch has ended.
When you find the right stream conditions and the hatch is about to start, or has
just started, an imitation of these nymphs can be deadly. You usually not be able to
get one through the water without it being taken by a trout. This is one fly you can
drop down form a dry fly or indicator and do well with. The bottom is usually fairly
constant in depth and the exact depth the nymph is presented seems to make little
difference. I don't fish them as a dropper or with an indicator but you can. I just
watch my line. You want to fish in an upstream or slightly up and across direction.
Remember to fish the tail ends of the runs. Start at the end of the fast water where
it slows down to a moderate speed. When you come up on a pool with the right type
bottom and depth, cast well ahead to cover the shallower water near the end of the
pool. If you walk or wade up to the end of the pool, you may spook most of the fish
that would be feeding on the nymphs.
To be perfectly honest, you almost need to know where the stream conditions are
right for the Hendricksons before approaching it. By the time you accidentally
discover the areas they exist in, you may well have already spooked most of the
trout. There may be a hundred yards of a stream without one Hendrickson mayfly
nymph and there may well be in half of the entire hundred yard stretch depending
on the stream. The moderately flowing water in much of Cataloochee Creek, for
example, is the perfect habitat for the Hendricksons. Sections like the meadows
above the campground or across from the old home site.
Fast pocket water isn't. It is not well suited for the crawler nymphs. The only place
they might exist is in large calm pockets and then only in small quantities.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh