04/13/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis) - sparse hatches
2. Blue Quills - hatching
3. Quill Gordons - hatching but about to end
4. Hendricksons - hatching
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. American March Browns - should start within a couple of weeks
10.Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

Cinnamon Sedges - Part One

The Cinnamon Sedges, or Ceratopsyche species of caddisflies, are the most
plentiful species of caddisflies in the Eastern United States. In some waters they are
extremely plentiful and the different species of them hatch in huge numbers for a
long period of time. They probably represent about seventy percent of all
caddisflies found in trout streams in the Eastern United States. They also exist in
the Mid-west and some are even found in the West. In the western streams, the
Spotted Sedges, or
Cheumatopsyche species, another similar genus, exist in just
as plentiful quantities as the Cinnamon Sedges does in the East. They are almost
identical to the Cinnamon Sedges in looks and behavior. By the way, "caddisflies"
and "sedges" refer to the same insects.

Eastern tailwaters usually have high populations of the Cinnamon Caddisflies.
Thats because of the plankton rich, warmer water near and on the surface of the
lake above the dams that form the tailwaters. The freestone streams have
populations of the Cinnamon Sedges only where the water is non-acidic, or on the
alkaline side of the PH scale. For that reason, there are not a lot of different
species or large quantities of Cinnamon Sedges in the streams of Great Smoky
Mountains National Park.

The reason these caddisflies prefer water that is slightly alkaline is because they
are net-spinning caddisflies. The get their food from algae in the water. There is
some food available for them in most any water that is not acidic. For that reason
you will find a few species of these caddisflies in low quantities in most of the
streams in the Smokies. For the most part, they will be found at the lower
elevations, where the water slows down and becomes slightly warmer. The streams
in the lower elevations also becomes slightly more alkaline due to the substances
that get into the water not present in the higher elevations. Of all the numerous
species of caddisflies in this genera, there are only a few that exist in the Smokies,
even in the lower elevations. I always tell anglers that if the rocks are slick there will
be net-spinning caddisflies present. The slicker the rocks, the more net-spinners. If
the rocks are slick, theres a lot of algae in the water.

One stream that has a good population of these caddisflies is Abrams Creek. Thats
because the water in Abrams has a higher PH than the other streams in the park.
Water runs underground through Cades Cove and supplies Abrams with water with
a much higher PH than the water in the typical, acidic freestone streams. The
uppermost part of Abrams Creek has a huge population of net-spinning caddisfies.
These consist primarily of the Cinnamon Sedges along with a few Spotted Sedges,  
tthat are not near as prevalent as the Cinnamon Sedges. Although you will find a
few Cinnamon Sedges in just about all of the streams in the park, the only place I
feel like they warrant attention as a substantial hatch is Abrams Creek.

We show them starting to hatch in Abrams around the middle of April. They will
probably hatch later in most of the other streams in the park, but again, I don't
consider them a significant hatch anywhere other than Abrams Creek. I base that
on hundreds of streams samples we have observed from just about every stream in
the park.

Trout feed on three of the four stages of life of these insects. They eat the larvae,
pupae and the egg laying adults. The caddisflies cannot hide very well from the
trout and for that reason, the trout can eat about as many as they want. The larvae
are little worm like grubs that live in a open shelter they build on the rocks on the
bottom of the stream. They do not build cases. When they feed, they string
themselves out on the end of a silk line they create. They catch their food in a tiny
net they construct. This little net filters the water. If you pick up a rock in Abrams
Creek and look at it carefully, you will most likely to find a collapsed net. Although
the nets are not easy to see when they collapse, you can spot them if you know
what to look for. When the rock is in the water, the little net opens up like a
parachute and catches food for the caddis larvae. They come out from their
shelters to eat. When they do so, the trout can easily pick them off.



















On the end of my thumb is one of the little Cinnamon Sedge larvae from Abrams
Creek. You can't see them, but there are a lot of collapsed nets and lot of the little
shelters these caddisflies live in. If you fish an imitation of this little worm like larva in
Abrams Creek, you will catch trout. Before I picked it up, there was probably fifty
larvae on this one rock.

Tomorrow, I will get into how you fish imitations of these larvae and show you our
"Perfect Fly" Cinnamon Sedge Larva. By the way, this series on the Cinnamon
Sedges will probably be more valuable to those that fish our local tailwaters. All of
them have huge numbers of Cinnamon Sedges. It won't make a great deal of
difference in the heavily stocked waters but it will at the South Holston, where the
wild brown trout become highly selective on the larvae and pupae of these
caddisflies.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh