07/23/09

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    Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
4.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
5.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching (Little Summer Stones)
6.   Slate Drakes - hatching
7.   Little Green Stonefly - hatching
8.   Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
9.   Beetles
10. Grasshoppers
11. Ants
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
14. Helligramite
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

The Learning Process - Part 32 - Destinations
One of the first things we noticed about different streams and how anglers,
magazines, books and the web treated them, was the fact it is not always obvious
whether or not the stream is stocked. Most of the time, if the stream isn't stocked,
the fact the trout are wild will be mentioned every few sentences. It seems that if a
stream is stocked, it is treated in one of two ways.

1. In most cases you will rarely hear any reference made to stocking. If a stream is
stocked you may never be able to find any mention of it. You may read an entire
website or a magazine article about a stream without seeing any mention of whether
or not the stream is stocked. In many cases its a fly shop or guide service website
that is providing information on nearby streams that fail to mention the streams are
stocked. In most all of these cases, the lack of reference to stocking is deliberate.

2. In cases where it should be obvious to everyone that the stream is stocked, it is
often highlighted as being heavily stocked. In other words, if they are going to admit
the stream is stocked, they want to make certain the guys know it is stacked full of
very large trout.  

I will never forget a telephone call I received from a man in Bryson City that wanted
to purchase one of my videos. This happened several years ago when we were
living in Florida. I ask if the fishing was going good for him and he replied it was
tough. I had just talked to a guide from North Carolina that had reported the fishing
was great on the Tuckasegee River. I mentioned that to the man from Bryson City
who immediately told me, thanks but no thanks -"that stream is stocked James". I
was embarrassed.

Another time, a Colonel in Iraq had purchased some DVDs for the troops to watch.
Noticing that, I cut the price down to a very small amount.  He sent an email
thanking me and offering Angie and I an invitation to stay at his large home on the
river on a popular mid-western trout stream. He mentioned it would be heavily
stocked at a certain date and time and the fishing would be great. That was very
gracious and I thanked him for the offer without mentioning I wasn't interested in
traveling half way across the country to fish a stocked trout stream. Obviously, he
though that the heavy stocked stream was a very good deal. I am sure to him it was.

The point I am trying to make is that stocked streams mean different things to
different anglers. In the Bryson City case above, the gentleman obviously wouldn't
fish a stocked trout stream. He outright stated he only fished for wild trout in the
Smokies. In the second case, the Colonel was very generous and well meaning but
didn't realize that some anglers didn't highly praise streams that were heavily
stocked.

The "Learning Process" quickly made us aware that we needed to be very careful
as to how we referred to a stocked trout stream when we were talking to various
anglers. There are anglers who proudly fish stocked streams and there are those
who wouldn't dare fish a stocked stream. Neither one is any better than the other.
Each one is entitled to his or her own preferences.

The problem arises all the time. If I am referring to any aquatic insect hatch, and I
am stating fact about it, I am usually referring to wild or native trout, not stocked
trout. Someone reading what I said that fishes for stocked trout may be at odds with
what I stated because it didn't fit their situation at all. Stocked trout, especially those
that haven't been stocked for a long time, will also eat aquatic insects that are
hatching. In fact, they will usually eat just about anything. The behavior of wild trout
can greatly differ from the behavior of stocked trout. Often anglers confuse what is
intended for wild trout to also be meant for stocked trout, especially if I'm the writer
because I often fail to clarify exactly what I may be writing about. Someone may do
very well using a double bead-head, goofy gut, goggle-eyed fly on the Caney Fork,
but that doesn't necessarily mean the same fly (that I just made up a name for) will
work on the brown trout in Hazel Creek.

We quickly learned years ago that the problem or confusion or whatever you want
to call it, doesn't stop by just labeling a stream or the fish as stocked, wild or native.
It gets much more involved. I mentioned something about the stocked rainbows in
the South Holston River one time in a less than highly praised manner and was
quickly challenged by a guide that wanted to place those rainbows on an equal
basis with a wild trout because they were stocked at a fingerling size. Of course the
longer the fish has to survive getting its own food versus being feed at the
hatchery, the more the fish tends to develop some of the characteristics of a wild
trout. Some will argue holdover trout are just as "wise" (as they put it) as a wild
trout. We learned the hard way to be careful about this subject.
Continued tomorrow........