Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2. Mahogany Duns
3. Midges - hatching in isolated locations
4. Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
5. Slate Drakes - hatching
6. Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
7. Little Yellow Quills
8. Needle Stoneflies
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
The Learning Process - Part 46
The problem with the word "presentation" as used in fly fishing, is that it means
different things to different anglers. Some think it only has to do with where the fly
lands. Most everyone considers the drift of the fly to be a part of the presentation.
Others consider the cast as being a part of the presentation. Some go as far as to
consider stealth as a part of the presentation. Sneaking up on trout could be
considered a part of the presentation I suppose. The bottom line to this is that is
really doesn't matter how you want to label it, how you go about getting the fly to a
trout is going to have a huge affect on whether or not you catch it.
The very first thing I can remember about fishing the streams of Great Smoky
Mountains National Park has to do with the direction I approached the streams. The
very first cast I made, obvious from our first video taken at the park, was made near
the end of the road at Tremont. The stream is small in that area and was flowing
rather fast that day in April. I had a nymph on with some weight above it but no
strike indicator. I remember that my first concern was just being able to move along
the stream climbing up and down the boulders. Our video shows that I first started
fishing in a downstream direction. No one had told me which way to approach the
stream or which direction to fish and I had not asked anyone. I didn't catch a trout. I
don't think I fished but two or three hours that first day. I did have one trout on the
fly just long enough to see it, but it came off. Later, the video shows me fishing in an
upstream direction. At some point I must have decided that I was fishing the stream
in the wrong direction.
Not catching a trout frustrated me to the point I began to ask questions. It was
obvious that I was letting the trout see me. I feel sure I was spooking all of them.
With some advice from Ian Rutter, who was managing Little River Fly Shop at the
time, once I began to fish in an upstream direction and made an effort to hide from
the trout, I began to get some results. The video shows that I caught two trout the
following day, which I believe was in a lower section of the Middle Prong of Little
River. I didn't log the tape with the stream name. The first year, and our first few
trips fly fishing for trout, took place in the Smokies. I had progressed to the point I
was able to catch a few trout, at least most of the time. I had the "fish upstream and
make short cast" thing down fairly well.
It wasn't until we first went out west to Yellowstone, our second year of fishing, that I
realized not everyone fished in an upstream direction. Some of the anglers we saw
were fishing in a downstream direction. We assumed that they were just starting out
and didn't know really know what they were doing. We fished the same way we did
the year before in the Smokies and on the Clinch River and Hiwassee tailwaters in
We had been at Yellowstone about a week when we first fished the meadows on the
Gibbon River. We found out later that most anglers had stopped fishing the
Gibbons. The local fly shops in West Yellowstone were reporting the fishing was
great on the Madison outside the park and that, along with the cold Gallatin River,
was where most everyone was fishing. We found one of the beautiful large pools
where the current was flowing across the center and into the far side bank. Trout
were rising to something in the slow moving drift line near the end of the current
seam. I waded into the water below the trout and worked my way slowly upstream
until I could reach the area the trout were rising with my cast. Whatever fly I was
using didn't work. The trout continued to rise for a few minutes and after a few cast,
I managed to put them down. I changed flies two or three times hoping to get lucky,
because I really had no idea what the trout were eating. After deciding I was not
going to catch any of them, I waded out of the stream and over to the bank where
Angie was shooting video of some mayflies she had found along the bank. I don't
remember if I knew what they were at the time or not, but the video shows they were
PMDs, or Pale Morning Duns, a mayfly similar to the Eastern Sulphur.
She had even found some flies that matched them quite well. They were PMD
Sparkle Duns we had ordered before leaving home. Deciding that was what the
trout were eating, I repeated the same thing I had done, but this time with a PMD fly.
The results was the same. I didn't catch a trout and I only managed to put them
down for the second time. As soon as I would leave the water, the fish would start
rising again. I knew that I was not spooking the trout wading. I was making long cast.
I was using a fairly long leader. When I got back over to Angie, who was ignoring me
as if I was never going to catch a trout, I noticed she had captured several of the
little mayflies and put them in film containers or boxes. It was obvious the trout were
eating them. They were all along the banks.
Finally, I remembered seeing some guys on the Firehole and Madison fishing in a
downstream direction. I waded into the water above the rising trout about a hundred
feet or so. I slowly moved downstream closer and closer to the trout until I could
almost reach them with a cast. Not knowing what I was doing, I cast and then let out
enough fly line to allow the fly to drift down in the area they were rising. The very
first drift, I managed to catch a nice twelve inch long brown trout. That was the very
first trout I caught fishing downstream.
After making a few more cast the same way, I moved a step or two downstream and
continued to fish the same way. i caught two more brown trout within the next few
minutes, all on a downstream drift. I would simply cast straight at the trout, and them
strip out enough line to keep the fly drifting drag free into the area they were rising.
I realized that day, that there was more than one way to present a fly. I will continue
with this tomorrow.................
Copyright 2009 James Marsh