9/14/09
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
9.   Beetles
10. Grasshoppers
11. Ants
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
14. Helligramite
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

A Little Excitement:
Late yesterday afternoon, I was enjoying a Nature presentation on TV about the
Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone Park. I was thinking about the DVD that Angie and I
intend to release, probably within the next few months. We have captured over fifty
bears on video. About half of them were in the Smokies and the others mostly in
Yellowstone but also at a few other locations. We have managed to escape a
couple of encounters too close for comfort doing just that.

For three years, we lived less than a block from the National Park just south of the
Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River just off highway #321 in Gatlinburg. We enjoyed
seeing bears in our own yard every once in a while up until one about 300 pounds
started paying us visits. He was not very smart. He opened my 72 quart Igloo cooler
by biting through the bottom of it instead of unlatching the lid, just so he could get a
few cans of Sprite. That would be difficult to do with an axe but wasn't any problem
for him. We saw bears frequently but only a few times were we a little concerned
and that was only because they were on our back deck. There were rental cabins
just below and behind our house, all of which had the required solid metal, heavy
duty trash and garbage cans. That doesn't always keep the visitors from leaving
food items around. Each of the rental cabins had outdoor grills and that simple
meant that anytime anyone grilled out, we had company. We were never concerned
but always aware bears were in our yard almost every week and sometimes, every
night.

Almost two years ago, we moved from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge. One thing we
looked forward to was not having to be concerned with bears. Up until a week ago,
we weren't. We live about a mile on the western side of the main strip but very close
to the Spur which is actually a part of the National Park. South of our house there is
just woods. I guess you could say we are at the end of the road on a circle but in
the city limits. In fact, the Pigeon Forge City Hall is less than a mile away. Speaking
of that, the city furnishes large plastic garbage cans with wheels on them. I guess
they are about 5 feet high. When they are full, they are far too heavy for anyone to
carry and thats the reason for the wheels. The city picks up the garbage each
Tuesday.

There is an almost rotten log behind our house that I noticed had been recently
torn apart in places. I had walked down the hill and looked at it thinking nothing but
a bear could tear it up like it was pulled apart. I made a video of a Cinnamon Bear
(actually a Black Bear) outside of Yellowstone Park near Cook City tearing a log
apart for the ants. A human couldn't possible do that without tools. The video shows
just how strong a bear is. Small animals couldn't break up a log like the one behind
our house either. I was concerned that a bear could have been around but I wasn't
thinking one was still around.  

One week ago, on Sunday night, a bear knocked our garbage can over onto our
driveway and dragged it about thirty feet to the back of the house. Plastic bags
were visible as far as I could see in the hollow behind our house. Angie said she
had not put any food in the garbage. We use our garbage disposal. I couldn't
believe my eyes. I knew nothing less than a bear could have possible moved that
garbage container on its side that far. I don't think I couldn't have done it. The next
three or four night our little Cocker Spaniel "Biddie" (child would be better
description) woke us up barking. I knew it was the bear paying a visit but nothing
was bothered. We made certain nothing that would as much as smell like food was
put in the can.

Last night Angie grilled fresh salmon in the oven. Our kitchen is just off the garage
with a separate side entrance door. My mother-in-law is visiting (what a delight) for
a few days. She smokes and we won't allow that inside our house. Angie moved our
patio set inside the garage so she and her mother can sit and talk close to the
kitchen when she is cooking. Most of the time she goes out on our front porch. Last
night Angie and my MIl were in the garage (with the garage door open). We had
eaten dinner and I had fell asleep on the couch. I woke up to loud screams and
Biddle barking as loud as she can bark. I thought a burglar was entering our house.
I ran into the garage to see a large bear slowly walking across the driveway turn
around area. Angie and her mother was so upset neither could tell me what was
happening. The bear had walked up to within three feet of the open garage door,
which put him about six feet directly behind Angie. Biddle was in the living room with
me under the couch. She must have smelled the bear. Angie said before she saw
the bear behind her, Biddie stood straight up on her hind feet right under her,
growled and then barked at the bear. The bear just turned around and started
walking across the driveway. The outside lights were on and the bear was in a well
lit situation. When I got there, the bear was still on the edge of the driveway. He
stopped, turned around and gave me a good look, and then slowly disappeared
into the woods.

Notice I call the bear a he. That is because I don't think a female gets that large. I
know the weight of bears is very difficult to judge. Their thick coat of hair can make
them look heavier than they actually are. I have been studying everything I can find
about bears. I have read two books about them. I have searched everything I can
find on the web about them in preparation of writing a script for our DVD program
on bears. I didn't get any video of the one last night. It didn't even cross my mind
and I wouldn't have had time enough to do that anyway. I feel sure the bear was
over 250 pounds and maybe over 300. Angie has seen lots of bears. She says it
weighted 400 pounds but I know better. She isn't afraid of bears, something that
has bothered me in the past because she isn't afraid to approach them closely with
a camera. I know they are totally unpredictable and dangerous. The one last night
scarred her bad.

I would call the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) only as a last resort.
I would call them if they would come and get my mother-in-law. Ha Ha They would have no
choice but to capture and move the bear. I think they are probably starting their fall
search for food and out roaming around. When bears are moved and released,
they often go right back to where they came from. I really don't think this bear has
ever gotten food from garbage. Although we are close to lots of people, we are still
on the edge of nothing but miles of woods in the foothills and mountains of the
Smokies. Angie will stop cooking for a few days. I will make certain the garbage has
no food odors. I am sure he will come back again, maybe a few times, but if we are
careful not to give him a reason to stay, he will soon go away - I hope. I love bears
and I don't want to see a one of them hurt in any way.

The Learning Process - Part  52
I am just not certain about the time, but I believe it was around the third year after
we started fly fishing almost exclusively, I realized that often you could catch a lot of
trout just by being at the right place at the right time. It was that way with many other
species of fish I had fished for over the years and once I had mastered some first
grade basics, I could catch trout, one right after another, at times.

I remember the first time I got to fish a national bass tournament when the fishing
was so called "good". I was excited and I was going to the top of the board. I had
fished two when I first started, that took place during very adverse conditions. In the
first BASS event I fished, on the St. John's River in Florida, the temperature didn't
rise about freezing during the entire tournament. Anyone that knows anything about
Florida Bass knows that is a bad as conditions can possible get. It puts the bass in
a state of shock. There was ice in my boat all three days of the tournament, yet it
was won with about 45 pounds of bass. Some guys caught a lot of bass. The next
tournament I fished was during the cold winter in a deep, clear Arkansas Lake
where the bass were difficult to catch under the best conditions. The third one I
fished was during pre-spawn time on a very good lake -Toledo Bend Texas. The
weather and water temperature was perfect and the lake was in great shape water
level wise. I knew there would be a lot of bass caught. To get to the point fast, I
ended up placing lower in the standings after that tournament than I did the first
two, yet I caught a lot of bass. In fact I caught a limit each day and culled down to
seven fish each day. When the 300 person tournament was over, I didn't rank in the
top 75 anglers or the money.

Within the next four years of competing on the pro circuit, I learned when the fishing
was good, it was difficult to place high because everyone caught bass. When it
wasn't so quote "good", the better anglers would take the prizes every time. It
always turned out to be about the same guys whereas under perfect conditions it
always seemed some one would catch a big bass or two and bring his stringer
weight up simply because of luck. When fishing was great, you would see guys
place in the money that no had heard of before or after that.

I use the bass fishing example for one reason. It isn't easy to make any catch
comparisons with trout fishing because there is no way to compare the catches of a
lot of anglers under the same conditions. Don't get me wrong. I like it that way. It just
suddenly became quite clear to me several years ago that trout fishing was no
different. When the conditions were good, and especially when we were fishing fast
pocket water, it seemed everyone including us caught trout. It didn't matter if it was
on one of the streams in the Smokies, or out West fishing fast pocket water. We
could catch trout all day long under good conditions in the Gallatin River, the
Madison River in the forty mile riffle, the Boulder River, the Gardner River, the
Roaring Fork, and many other streams where fast pocket water existed and the
conditions were great. Of course we could catch them day in and day out in any of
the stocked streams and tailwaters. We usually did okay there even when
conditions were not good. In the tailwaters where the trout were wild and not
stocked, such as the Delaware River in New York, catching some of their 18 inch
wild rainbows and big browns was hit and miss (mostly miss) even when conditions
were great. Even at the South Holston, the only river with wild trout to any
appreciable extent close by the Smokies, we did well on the stockers but we had our
good and bad days on the larger, wild browns.

When we went to Pennsylvania and fished some of its numerous spring creeks with
wild trout, we found it tough to catch sizable trout most any day. We found the same
thing at the springs creeks we fished in Montana's Paradise Valley. We found the
same problem when we fished the Henry's Fork at the Railroad Ranch ,but by the
same token, we caught plenty of large trout in the canyon and lower sections of the
same stream. The slick water of the Missouri, with huge rainbow trout, gave us fits.
When we fished Silver Creek in Idaho, we knew then we had not finished trout high
school. It proved that we had a lot to learn. If the big trout in Silver Creek could
laugh out loud, we would have heard them laughing at us.

We noticed that in the Yellowstone National Park, that we had a lot of trouble
catching big rising trout eating little BWOs right before our eyes in the smooth
meadow sections of the Madison River. We would have to make a trip down below
Hebgen Lake to fish the fast pocket water of the Madison between the lakes, or to
the $3.00 bridge to catch up. We learned that on any of the streams, or parts of the
stream I should say, where the water was clear and smooth, especially if it was
flowing moderately or slowly, that it required a lot more skill and knowledge to
consistently catch trout. We learned very quickly that when the trout were feeding
selectively and you were not keeping up with what was happening, we were not able
to catch trout eating right before our eyes. That can be very discouraging when the
trout are huge. We learned that a lot more skill in presenting the flies and a lot
better flies were required when we were fishing smooth, clear water. Even after we
had fished over fifty trout streams from coast to coast and had spend many days on
the water our first three years or so, I realized we were just scratching the surface.
We were still having trouble consistently being able to catch good size trout on
some very fine trout streams during times when conditions were average and
especially when conditions were poor. We couldn't do it in the fast pocket water
when conditions were poor. I knew just enough to know that I didn't know enough.

It was no different than bass fishing. I remember taking guys just starting out
(usually a guy who purchased a bass boat with more horsepower than it was rated
for) to a good lake during prime, pre-spawn conditions under the ideal low pressure
system; tell them to tie on a spinner bait; and as soon as they could cast it well
enough to hit targets like stumps, logs and grass beds, they could catch a lot of
bass. These same type of guys, whether they fish for bass or trout, can go during
the times conditions are not favorable (when the fishing is called "poor"), and in
their minds, it is always the fishing conditions thats the problem. Their lack of
success had nothing to do with their lack of knowledge or lack of skills. They are
perfectly satisfied and content with thinking their lack of success was only because
the fishing wasn't "good". There are some guys that go all their life thinking they got
it down pat and never realize that fish can be caught even when conditions are less
than favorable. I shouldn't complain. It never bothered me when I fished the bass
tournaments, or the saltwater tournaments.  It was always those guys that
supported the money for those of us that knew "poor fishing conditions" wasn't an
excuse.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh