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
The Learning Process - Part 9
This article continues with yesterday's article about fishing the Grannom Caddis
hatch that occurs on the Arkansas River in Colorado each April. It also occurs in
most all of the streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park but at that point in
time, seven or eight years ago, we hadn't heard anything about it in the Smokies.
As a matter of fact, we still haven't heard anything about it in the Smokies and that
is the point of this article.
When the hatch started just above Cannon City on the Arkansas River, all we knew
about fishing it is what we had read about the hatch in general in several of our fly
fishing entomology books, and what we found on the web about the Arkansas River
hatch. We stopped by a couple of fly shops, talked about the hatch with the locals
and purchased several flies. Most all of the flies were dry flies that imitated the
adults. We didn't find any imitations of the pupae, only the adults.
The hatch starts during the warmest part of the day, which in Colorado in April is
mid-afternoon. The water temperature ranges from about forty-five to fifty degrees
when they first start hatching. When the hatch starts it is a sight to see. There are
thousands of caddisflies in the bushes and in the air. The hatch is massive and the
trout respond to it very well. Fishing anything other than a caddisfly imitation during
the hatch is a waste of time.
The pupae swim to the surface of the water and hatch into adults. The water, being
fairly cold, keeps them from departing the water very quickly. They usually ride the
surface drying their wings for a good distance. That is why the adult imitation or dry
fly works great during this hatch.
In the early mornings the air temperature was cold, in the high thirties and low
forties. We would find thousands of the caddisflies on rocks, bushes and on the
ground. You could just pick them up. They wouldn't and probably couldn't fly. The
air had to warm up before they would start flying. We usually fished streamers up
until the hatch started with very little results.
About the time the hatch was getting close to ending or maybe at least half over for
the day, the adults would start returning to the water to deposit their eggs. For
about an hour, you would have both hatching caddisflies and egg laying caddisflies
on the water. The trout would keep the water boiling taking both the egg layers and
the newly hatched adults. It gets dark fairly early in the day in Colorado during the
month of April. About two hours before dark, the caddis would stop hatching and
only the egg layers would be on the water. The egg laying last until after dark.
Most of the caddisflies dip down and touch the water to deposit their eggs but when
they are finished, they fall in the water and die. Caddis are different from mayflies in
that they may make several attempts to deposit their eggs and may fly back and
forth to the bushes. The caddisflies that die can be found at the heads of the pools
and in the eddies. Some eddies and pockets behind the boulders in the river were
completely covered with caddisflies. We could catch trout until it was too dark to see
anything going on. We fished the hatch following it upstream for about ten days. We
ended up fishing near Leadville where the river is only about twenty feet wide.
The second or third day there, we started fishing the generic pupa imitations we
had brought with us about the time the hatch was starting to take place. We
discovered we could catch two or three times as many trout on the pupa imitation as
we could the adult flies. We tried several different adult patterns. Of course the Elk
Hair caddis was one of them but the best flies we found were tied locally and looked
more like the real adults. Those flies, which have a foam body, influenced the
design of our on "Perfect Fly" Little Black Caddis.
You can count 6 or 8 white dots in the picture above. Those are caddisflies in the
air which are not white but show up that way in a video freeze frame. The air was
thick with caddisflies. We caught an average of about thirty brown trout, and a few
rainbow trout, each day during the afternoon hatch.
Tomorrow, I will tell you how this influenced our fishing in Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. One year when the weather stayed a little too cold for the Quill
Gordons to hatch, we caught lots of trout from Little River for over a week while
everyone else was catching little if anything. They just complained about the Quill
Gordon hatch. One afternoon, in full view of the large off-road parking lot just below
the turn to Elkmont, we caught around fifteen trout out of one stretch of the stream
that is not much longer than the parking lot. That next day, all of the fishing reports
went like this - "No Quill Gordons yet, only a few fish on nymphs being caught, but
the fishing will be good any day now". This went on for over a week because the
water stayed between forty-five to just under fifty degrees. We caught several trout
every afternoon during that period of time. In fact, we caught as many or more trout
from the Grannom hatch as we did the Quill Gordon hatch after it did start. The best
thing about it was that we caught about half of them on a dry fly. We have done the
same thing each year for the past few years.
Until this day it still amazes me as to why you never hear anyone talking about the
early season caddisfly hatch in the Smokies. All you hear about it the Blue Quills
and Quill Gordon mayflies. I can contribute that only to one of two things. Anglers
are either just copying older, traditional fishing methods, or they know very little
about caddisflies. There is more coming tomorrow about the hatch that takes place
in the Smokies.
Copyright James Marsh 2009