07/25/09

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 34 - Destinations
One very obvious thing we encountered early in our learning process was that
streams can gain a good reputation when that reputation comes only from fishing
during a certain time of year, fishing a certain insect hatch, fishing for a certain
species and many other specific things.

The idea came to write this article because of an email an angler wrote me about
fishing Yellowstone National Park earlier this year. He was planning on fishing about
this time of the year and one of the two streams he mentioned he wanted to fish
was the Firehole River. I had to explain that he would be about two weeks late doing
that successfully. For those of your that aren't familiar, although the Firehole River
is one of the best in trout streams in the nation, it may be one of the worst ones to
fish in late July. The water gets too warm because of the gysers and normal
summer heat and the trout become lethargic. Some of them move up the small
tributaries to cooler water but for the most part they just want eat. The heated water
flows into the Madison River and adversely effects it. Many of the trout leave to
seek the deep water of Hebgen Lake.

There are many streams in the United States that become to warm for the trout
during the summer. They don't necessarily have to be in the southern part of the
country either. For example, I was working on an introduction for the Big Bushnell
Creek, one of the few Pennsylvania trout streams we haven't fished. In talking to a
local guide, I found out that Big Bushnell Creek isn't a good stream to fish during
the hot summer. The water temperature becomes too warm and many of the trout
fail to survive the heat. The state has a six mile Delayed Harvest section on the
stream. During April and May, the fishing is excellent but of course you would be
fishing for stocked and/or holdover trout. Although that stream is in the Pocono
Mountains, its elevation doesn't compare with the elevation of the much higher
Smoky Mountains. The wild trout in the park can survive the heat in the higher
elevations. Those that exist in the lower elevations become lethargic. Most of the
trout that are stocked outside of the park die during the summer. By the way,
lethargic isn't really a good description of what takes place,  rather a simple
layman's explanation for what otherwise would be a highly technical subject.

We have talked to anglers that have traveled across the country to fish a Western
stream right smack in the middle of the runoff when it was impossible to fish the
stream. The information was certainly available and in some cases they had even
talked to local outfitters or fly shops. They just failed to ask about the runoff and I
suppose the people they talked to either thought they knew better or just forgot to
mention it.

We have run into anglers that traveled to a stream known for its salmon or
steelhead trout only to discover that they were there when there were no salmon
and steelhead in the stream. They were too early or too late. Again, off hand you
would think this couldn't happen, but the facts are, it does happen and more often
than you think.

When a stream gets its reputation from a certain hatch, it seems to cause the exact
opposite problem. Anglers tend to fish Penns Creek, a great trout stream in
Pennsylvania, only during the Green Drake hatch. In reality, it can become difficult
to catch trout during the hatch because of the number of anglers fishing and the
fact the trout just become gorged on the huge amount of food available to them.
Most any other time of the year, there are few anglers fishing the stream. It has
excellent fishing throughout the season but anglers only relate to the big hatch.

Many of you are probably thinking that it is stupid for anyone to travel to a stream
without first throughly checking it out and you are right. Even so, many anglers do
just that. A few years ago all anyone had to go by were books and magazine
articles unless they had first hand information from another angler or a local
outfitter or fly shop. Now we have the world wide web. Even so, there is often just
enough information available to entice anglers to travel to a destination without
having enough facts about the stream. That is one reason I decided to do the
stream section of our Perfect Fly website. I want to put all of the basic information
about all the trout streams in the nation in one place.

I didn't go into any detail in this article about the little things that can make a big
difference with regards to the exact time one fishes a stream, the specific species
they are fishing for, or specific hatches they are trying to catch. I just touched on
the major things that are usually fairly obvious. However,
its the little things that
can make a big difference
. To put that into perspective on the local Smoky
Mountain streams, you wouldn't want to travel to the park to fish Little River (for
example) today, unless you fished it above an elevation of about 2500 feet or
higher. The most basic element there is to success, whenever and wherever you
fish, is being at the right place at the right time. If you are traveling to any
destination you are not familiar with, it will usually pay you get the often overlooked
little details that can make a big difference.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh