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 22
Continued from Yesterday's Article
Yesterday, I explained how the different species of trout can help you determine
where you should place your fly and how to fish each individual part of the pocket
water streams that are common in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I went on
to explain that if a hatch is occurring, it is easy to determine which part of the
stream to fish. You determine that based on the particular insect that is hatching.
What I didn't explain was where you should place your fly when nothing is hatching
or the best fly to use under those conditions. That is the topic of today's subject.
When anglers think of a hatch, they immediately think of flies on the surface of the
water and dry fly fishing. That is one of the great things about a hatch, of course,
but it is only part of it. If the average guy knows a particular insect is going to hatch
on a given day and the approximate time it will begin to hatch, he tends to fish
various ways up until the hatch begins and then switch to a dry fly imitation of the
hatching insect when the hatch starts. What many fail to recognize is that knowing
when a particular insect is going to hatch provides clues to much more
than that. It can also help you determine where, when and how to fish prior to the
hatch. It should also tell you where, when and how to fish after the hatch.
For example, lets just take tomorrow, July 7. First, look at our Summer hatch chart
for the Smokies. Notice that at the end of the first week or the beginning of the
second week of July, Eastern Blue-winged Olives should be hatching but that they
are getting near the end of their hatch period. Lets assume that we are not going to
fish Abrams Creek and by the way, that wouldn't be a bad idea considering the
tourist traffic at this time of the year. Farther down the chart, notice the Little
Eastern Blue-winged Olives are also hatching. Both of these mayflies can be
imitated with the same fly of different sizes. You probably notice the Green Sedges
only have a week to go but may still be hatching. Notice the Yellow Sally hatch is
about to end but the Little Summer Stones, shown lower down on the chart, are just
beginning to hatch. The Little Green Stoneflies are hatching but remember, they
only hatch is certain types of water. The Golden Stoneflies are about through for
the year. The Slate Drake mayflies are hatching but remember, they hatch off and
on a few at a time throughout the summer. The Cream Cahill mayflies are also
hatching. Terrestrial insects do not hatch, but notice they all are just beginning to
get into the prime of their season.
When you put it all together, it means some Blue-winged Olives are hatching of two
different sizes, but not in any large quantities. Yellow Sallies are about finished but
their sister Little Summer Stones that can be imitated with the same fly are just
starting. The problem with them is they have a one star (red star beside the line)
rating meaning they are very sparse hatches. The Little Green stoneflies also have
only a two star rating meaning they too hatch is fairly sparse and isolated
conditions. There aren't any highly significant stonefly hatches going to
occur. The Slate Drakes and the Cream Cahills are the only other mayflies of any
importance. The Cream Cahills and the Slate Drakes only have three star ratings.
There aren't any mayfly hatches of great significance going to occur. The
only caddisflies of importance are the Green Sedges and they may or may not be
important because it is near the time the hatch ends. Other than that there are only
a few Cinnamon and Little Sister caddis (outside of Abrams) that may hatch and a
few, one star rated, Long Horn Sedges that may be a factor.
Knowing there are not really any highly significant mayfly, stonefly or caddisfly
hatches going to occur, it would seem the terrestrial insects are becoming quite
important. Now, the question is "what fly would offer the highest percentages for you
during the times you didn't observe any of these hatches occurring". Even so, what
fly should you fish up until you did see the hatch taking place? You should also be
aware that unless it has rained hard, or the wind is blowing hard, only a few
terrestrial insects may be in the water.
Now many of you may think since nothing of any outstanding significance is going to
occur, you should just fish a Hares Ear nymph but why would you do that? The only
mayfly nymphs that may be active, not hidden, etc., are the Cream Cahills, possibly
some BWOs and Slate Drakes. The Hares Ear doesn't imitate either one of these
insects very well.
I would give the following flies a try: A flat, clinger nymph imitation of the Cream
Cahill nymph; a slim imitation of a swimming nymph (hook size 20 and 16 for
EBWO/LBWO); and a larger, swimming nymph imitation of the Slate Drake nymph.
Some of you would say a Parachute Adams would be a good choice but why imitate
a mayfly dun if nothing is hatching? You may catch something on it every once in a
while and the dry fly certainly is fun to fish, but if you are strictly fishing to catch
trout, you shouldn't. The recommendations I am making are strictly for catching
trout, not a choice as to the type of enjoyment I prefer. That being the case,
unless a hatch is occurring, the aquatic insects should be imitated only
with a nymph or larvae imitation, not dry flies.
You may also say a Prince Nymph would be a good fly to use. Well, since the major
stonefly hatches have ceased until the little Needflies start to hatch, why would you
do that? The stonefly nymphs are hidden down in between and under the rocks on
the bottom not very available for trout to eat. Since there may be a few Little
Summer Stones or late hatching Yellow Sallies, unless a spinner fall of mayflies was
occurring, I would try a specific imitation of their nymph late in the afternoon until
near dark. If I saw a spinner fall or any of the late hatching stoneflies depositing
their eggs late in the day, I would fish a matching imitation of them but only if I
observed it happening.
You could try an imitation of the Green Sedge Larva in the riffles but in my opinion,
that would only be worth a short try because the hatch is near its end.
Now if there are or recently have been some heavy rains or high winds, I would
certainly put a terrestrial imitation on and forget the aquatic insects unless I happen
to see a hatch underway. If not, I would try a Cream Cahill nymph fished in the fast
water runs and riffles into slowing water immediately adjacent to the runs and riffles
in the morning. I would also try a Slate Drake nymph fly anytime after mid afternoon
to imitate them moving to the banks to crawl out of the water to hatch. I would
probably try a Green Rock Worm as a last resort for the aquatic insects. I would
certainly try imitations of beetles, ants, inch worms and hoppers based on the area
of the stream I was fishing. If I saw worms hanging from the trees, I would fish an
imitation of the inch worm. If I was fishing a grassy bank, I may try a hopper
imitation. If I saw some tiny feeder streams, or water draining into the stream, I
would certainly try a beetle imitation. I would also try an ant imitation both the
sinking type and the dry type. I would fish nothing else during the entire day
unless I saw a hatch underway.
Fishing these flies, imitating insects that have a high probability of being
eaten by trout at the time, is far more productive than just tying on different
flies and using the trial and error method of fishing. All you can do is to increase
your odds and that is what this is all about.
You should use this same procedure of determining what flies to fish any day of the
year. Go to the hatch chart (we will soon have one for all the trout streams in the
nation); see which insects are going to hatch or are hatching at the time; notice
their importance indicated by the star rating; determine the best specific
imitation of them; and fish only those flies. If nothing is hatching at the time
you're fishing, fish either an imitation of the nymph or larvae of something that will
be hatching later on in the day, or something that will hatch within the next few days.
There may be a few more mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies hatching than our
example of today, but the principal is still the same. Determine what the trout are
most likely feeding on and fish imitations of it. This procedure will increase
your odds on any trout stream and the end result is "you will catch more trout".
Copyright James Marsh 2009