06/18/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Cinnamon Caddis - Mostly Abrams Creek
3    Light Cahills - hatching
4.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
5.   Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
6.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
7.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
8. Green Sedges - hatching
9. Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
10. Eastern Pale Evening Duns - (called Sulfurs by some)
11. Sulphurs - hatching in isolated areas
12. Golden Stonefly - hatching
13. Little Green Stonefly - hatching
14. Slate Drakes - hatching
15. Beetles
16. Grasshoppers

The Learning Process - Part 5
Yesterday I described an event that took place in Yellowstone National Park several
years ago involving caddisflies that made me realize that I needed to know more
about aquatic insects. Today I will write about a similar event that happened to
Angie and I in the Smokies involving mayflies and an event that according to what I
have read in fly fishing blogs, has also caused many other guys problems. This
event actually took place before our first ever trip to Yellowstone National Park.
According to my logs, it happened in March the year before the caddisfly event I
wrote about yesterday.

We were living in Florida at the time and had come to the Smokies for a week to fish
the famed "Quill Gordon" hatch. I had read everything I could find about it and
discussed it with everyone that would talk to me about how to go about fishing the
hatch. We were staying in Laurel Valley at my brother's house and were fishing
mostly the Little River. The first day, we didn't see but a very few Guill Gordons. We
were told conditions were perfect for them but we only caught five or six trout in a
complete day of fishing and we did so when we didn't see a Quill Gordon near us.
We were seeing far more little Blue Quills than we were Quill Gordons.

Using my books on mayflies, I was able to catch and identify both the Quill Gordons
and the Blue Quills. We didn't have any flies close to the Blue Quills so we visited a
local fly shop and bought some Blue Quill mayfly duns. That day fishing, I caught
some of the Little Blue Quills and video taped and took some slides of them. I
placed my Blue Quill flies beside them when doing that and noticed instantly that my
flies were not the same color or the same size. The size wasn't even close. The flies
were a size 14 or 16, I don't remember for sure, and I didn't note it in our logs. I do
remember the Blue Quill flies the fly shop sold us was almost twice the size of the
real things. The real ones are a hook size 18. They are closer to a 20 than a 16
depending on whether or not it is a male or female which vary slightly in size. The
flies I had were much more vivid in color than the real ones. The real ones were
almost a solid dull or drab color and fairly ugly, I guess you could say. The Blue
Quill duns the fly shop sold me were much brighter and more colorful and as I said,
twice the size of the real ones. I went back the next day thinking the guy just didn't
know what I wanted and found out those were the smallest Blue Quill flies he had.
They didn't sell out of the right size because he told me that was what everyone
used for the hatch and had done so for years. In other words, I didn't know what I
was doing.

We caught two rainbows on the flies the first day we used them (our second day of
fishing) for about half the time we fished. We caught five more trout on the other
flies we used including the Quill Gordon duns were had and other generic flies like
the Parachute Adams. We saw several more Quill Gordons the second day, more
than we did the first day, but we still couldn't catch but seven trout fishing all day
long.

We talked to several other anglers both of those days and all of them were having
the same or even worse luck. No one we talked to, including one guide and his
client, caught more than we did during the so called, great Quill Gordon hatch. I
wasn't even sure if the trout we did catch took our flies for a Quill Gordon or the
more plentiful Blue Quills. We moved around all day and fished several different
areas searching for the magic place and time. We fished a Hares Ear Nymph in the
morning and caught some of the trout on it. We didn't catch the first trout when we
were seeing Quill Gordons even though we saw quite a few the second day.

The third day, we did about the same but we discovered something entirely
different. Late in the afternoon near sunset, we were on the lower part of the Middle
Prong of Little River when we started seeing lots of Quill Gordons. There were
dozens in sight at the same time. We caught some and noticed they were spinners.
They had clear wings, long tails and looked different from the duns. Angie video
taped some of the spinners and shot some slides of them while I fished. I couldn't
see them on the water. I could just see those in the air looking towards the
remaining light. I begin to think about spinners and what I had read about them. I
looked in my fly box and picked out the closest spent wing, spinner fly I had to a
Quill Gordon. As far as I can determine now from looking at the video, it was a
generic rusty spinner not meant for any one particular mayfly. Within the last hour
of fishing, I caught over twelve rainbow trout all within one area less than fifty yards
long. The trout just ate the spinner fly up. I couldn't even see them take the fly. I just
saw the line move or felt them on the line. I had managed to catch two or three out
of the dozen caught on the Quill Gordon dun I first used. I waisted too much time
during the spinner fall using it. The other trout were caught quickly on the spinner
fly.

I will continue with this tomorrow and explain why the days were slow and what (we
know now) was occurring. One hint for you to ponder over until tomorrow was that
the warmest the water got anywhere we fished was only 50 degrees. It ranged from
about 46 in the mornings to 50 in the middle of the afternoons and then started
falling again.
                                                                                                                  Copyright James Marsh 2009