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 21
Continued from Yesterday's Article
After reading yesterday's article, I may have left some confused as to what I meant.
Not because they failed comprehend the content, but because I am not the best
writer. For example, I may have left some with the impression that I fish each
different part of a pocket water stream using different gear - fly lines, leaders,
tippets, etc., and I actually do in some cases.
An example of that would be when the Blue Quills are hatching in March or April, or
again later in the season in September when their sister species most anglers call
Mahogany Duns are hatching. These little mayflies hatch in the slow to moderate
water areas of the stream. Pockets along the banks and shallow areas on the
outside of the faster moving water are ideal places. They do not hatch in the fast
water and they usually don't get caught up in the main current seams of the runs
and riffles. You have to put your fly in areas where that if the line gets caught in the
fast water, it jerks the fly causing it to ski across the calmer water where the trout
are looking for the insects.
It is difficult to get close to the fish feeding on these insects because you can spook
them easily in shallow, slower moving water long before you get close to them. In
those cases I use much longer, lighter leaders and I also make much longer cast. I
try to keep the line mended to prevent drag. I also use a very good imitation of the
real mayflies, not just any generic fly. In this case the trout have plenty of time to
determine if they are seeing the real insect. It is tough fishing similar to trying to
catch a trout out of a slow moving large pool. This is just one of many examples of
where I fish the stream completely different from most other anglers.
The particular species of trout also makes a difference in respect to exactly where
you place your fly in a stream. Each of the three different species of trout that
reside in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have different feeding and holding
habits. You should take that into consideration anytime you are fishing. For
example, wild brown trout are nocturnal or much more sensitive to light. During the
day, only the small brown trout will get out in the direct sunlight and eat flies from
the surface. Most of them, and all of the larger ones, we be hidden. They will be in
holes up underneath rocks and boulders, undercut banks and in places where it is
shady and they are hidden. They only come out to feed in the evenings when it is
dark, in the early mornings or late afternoons; when the water is stained, or when
dark clouds cover the sky and bright sun.
Wild rainbow trout don't seek cover to hide the same way the brown trout do. They
don't hide up in the crevices of rocks and underneath undercut banks. If something
is hatching, they will feed in the fast water of runs and riffles right out in the direct
sunlight on a clear blue bird day. If nothing is hatching they won't stay within inches
of the surface of the fast water. They will seek places to hold out of the stronger
current and out of easy reach of their overhead predators but they don't hide in
dark places like the browns will.
The native brook trout are probably more similar to the rainbows than the brown
trout. They will tend to hide somewhat like the browns though. When they are
feeding, they will usually be near the ends of the fast water runs and riffles where
the water isn't moving as fast as it is where the rainbows will hold. When you fish
streams where both rainbows and brook trout exist in the small streams, you will
notice that if you place your fly at the head of the fastest water, the rainbows will
most likely be the first species to respond. When the fly gets near the end of the
fast water and slows down, the brook trout are more prone to eat the fly. Most of the
food drifting downstream will be taken by the rainbows before the brooks have a
chance to eat it. They just don't tend to hold in the fastest current like the rainbows
will. Direct overhead sunlight don't bother either species much. The rainbows will
use the cover of the rough surfaced, fast water. They will even hold underneath
foam at the end of a plunge.
When no hatch is occurring and you are moving upstream fishing, you can actually
select the spots to place your fly with full expectations that either a brown, rainbow
or brook trout will take the fly, depending on the stream and exactly where in the
stream you placed the fly. Where two species exist in the same water, it is usually
either a combination of the browns and the rainbow trout; or the rainbows and the
brook trout. There are a few places where all three species exist but that is the
exception, not the standard situation. There are some locations where only one
species exist, which are usually either rainbows or the brook trout.
For example, if both rainbows and brown trout exist (a common situation), you can
place your fly underneath an undercut bank with full expectations a brown trout will
take it. If it is the middle of the day and you place your dry fly in a fast water run or
riffle, you can expect that if anything takes it, it would most likely be a rainbow or
possible a small (less than 12 inch) brown trout. You shouldn't expect a large brown
trout to eat the fly.
As I mentioned in the paragraph above, if both the rainbow and brook trout exist,
and you place your fly at the head of a fast run or riffle, you can expect a rainbow to
take it before a brook trout does. The brooks usually don't take the fly until it gets
near the end of the fast water and slows down slightly. The brooks don't hold in the
fastest water of the run or riffle.
If you are only pursuing large brown trout and you are fishing during a normal
bright, partly cloudy or even light overcast day, you want to place your fly in the
darkest spots you can find. This is usually right adjacent to crevices or holes up
under boulders or large rocks. In some streams that may be as far up under an
undercut bank as you can get the fly. Your odds of catching a large brown out in
the well lite water is almost zip.
If a hatch is occurring or about to start, it makes it much easier to determine exactly
where to place your fly. You can select the part of the stream based on the
hatching behavior of the particular aquatic insect.
As a general rule, clinger mayfly nymphs will move only a very short distance
from the fastest water to slightly slower water to hatch. When they change to a dun,
they usually get caught in the current seams and very quickly, get caught in the fast
If crawler mayfly nymphs are hatching, you can rest assured they are going to
hatch in the areas of moderate to slow moving water. You want find the duns or
emerging nymphs drifting in the fast water. They will either be in the slow to
moderate current or airborne.
If swimming mayfly nymphs are hatching, you can be sure they are not going to
hatch in the fast water current. They reside and hatch in the slow to moderate water
of pockets behind rock and boulders, along the banks in pockets out of the fast
water runs and riffles, heads, tails and edges of pools, and other places where they
If it is a caddisfly that is hatching, you know that unless it is purely accidental, the
adults and emerging pupae will not be in the fast water runs and riffles but in the
moderate to slow moving water. By the way, that is one of two main reasons you
want see many prolific caddisfly hatches in the Smokies. Other than the Little Black
Grannom caddis of early spring and the Green Sedges (Rock Worms) you will find
none of the caddisfly species hatching in the faster water. Even the Grannoms and
Rock Worms move out of the fastest water into immediately adjacent slower water to
hatch. They do get caught up in the faster currents at times.
The stoneflies don't hatch in the water at all. They crawl out of the water to hatch.
When they do, they don't crawl out of the faster water onto a rock or the bank, they
migrate to slower moving areas behind rocks and boulders or pockets along the
bank to crawl out. The females do get caught up in the fast water when they are
depositing their eggs.
Copyright James Marsh 2009