04/04/09

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. Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
9. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

Little Brown Stoneflies

I received an email informing me that I had written an article about each stage of all
the hatches/food available for trout that I had listed for the last month or two, except
the Little Brown Stoneflies. Checking back, you are correct and thank you. I should
not have omitted these bugs for sure. That certainly doesn't make them any less
important.

Today will be about the Little Brown Stoneflies and stoneflies in general for the
Smokies. It is still to early for us to travel to anywhere else in the nation to fly fish,
so fortunately we are at home in Tennessee and I can write what I want for a while
instead of having to use pre-written (in the can) material. We have also been able
to get in on the fantastic fishing here almost everyday at least for a short time for
the past 2-3 weeks.
By the way, do you realize that this is one of the very few
places in the United States that you can even catch trout this time of year?

That is one of, if not the main advantage of fly fishing the Smokies. You can fish
year-round.

Tomorrow will be something special for me that I just discovered. I was checking out
websites last night and ran across the Monday, March 30 article in "Tennessee
Valley Angler" on
"Fishing Music". That turned a light on and tomorrow I will try to
bring you some "James Marsh" fishing music that started airing on television 29
years ago tomorrow.

Stonefly Common Names:
I don't think many anglers realize that entomologist actually are guilty of using
common names for the nine families of stoneflies (all of which exist in the Smokies)
as well as their scientific names. Little Brown Stoneflies is one of those names.
Their is no "Little Black Stonefly" name. There are Little Yellow and Little Green
stonefly names (given to the Chloroperlidae family) but no Little Black stoneflies.
That is because there are numerous species of them that are brown in color and no
"Little" stoneflies that are actually black. They are just extremely dark shades of
brown I suppose. Anyway, to add more confusion to the always confusing use of
common names, even when the entomologist use them, there are two families of
Little Brown Stoneflies - the Nemouridae and the Taeniopterygidae Families. Now to
make matter worse, the Little Brown group of stoneflies include some that are so
black no one would know the difference and some that are almost red.  
Anglers confuse it far more. They call two different families of stoneflies "Little
Blacks"..The Capniidae species are called Tiny Blacks and Nemouridae species are
called Little Blacks. Then they add Willowflies, for the Taeniopterygidae family;
Roachflies for the Peltoperlidae family; and Salmonflies for the Pteronarcyidae
family (even though it includes our Giant Black). Then finally, there are the Golden
stoneflies (that many confuse the larger Little Browns with). In other words it is such
a big mess that actually no one knows which insect anyone else is taking about.
Here is the good news. The behavior of stoneflies is so similar that it
makes little and in some cases, no difference.
The nymphs all hatch the same
way and the females all deposit their eggs about the same way. That is far from the
case with mayflies and caddisflies.

Now on to a very important thing.
In my opinion, there is not another type of
insect (terrestrial or aquatic) in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains
National Park that is as important to anglers or the trout as stoneflies.

Numerous species of all nine families exist in the Smokies. The streams of the
Smokies have more species of stoneflies than any streams in the nation. Many of
the species exist as nymphs for as long as two or three years before hatching.
During a four year time period that we netted and observed stream samples from
just about every stream in the park (hundreds of samples) and caught adults in
light traps, etc.,  we found that stoneflies represented a huge part of the food
available in the stream. Granted, the stoneflies can stay well hidden and live
underneath the rocks on the stream substrate but they still have to eat and go
through growth periods that makes them exposed at times other than when they
hatch. If you were to take a sample of the aquatic insects and weight and record
them like normal human food, you would find there is a lot of "grams" of stoneflies
per area of the stream's bottom - more than mayflies, caddisflies, and midges. For
sure, there are far more stoneflies than damsel and dragonfly nymphs.

Of the numerous species of the Little Brown Stoneflies (Nemouridae and
Taeniopterygidae families) most all of them are brown. The black colored ones are
one of the two usually called Winter Stoneflies and most of them are small. Our
"Perfect Fly" imitations of the Little Browns look like this.
























Copyright 2009 James Marsh
"Perfect Fly" Little Brown
Stonefly Nymph -Click Image
"Perfect Fly" Little Brown
Stonefly Adult - Click Image
The Real Deal
Fly Fishing DVD's "Stoneflies
DVD shows video of live
stoneflies from all nine
families. It covers the methods
and techniques used in fishing
the hatches and imitating the
nymphs. The video was shot
on streams from coast to coast
but it has several scenes taken
from Great Smoky Mountains
National Park.
Click Here for
more information.