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
5. Slate Drakes
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 54
Yesterday, I went through the different types of water in freestone streams and
tailwaters, pointing out the differences in the rough and smooth waters. I didn't
mention the Spring Creeks. They are very common in Pennsylvania, the
Mid-western states, and parts of the West including the Pacific Coast states. We
don't have any that are close to the Smokies, so I will just touch on them.
The bottom line to the spring creeks is that it is difficult to fool the trout in 95% of
the water. Where spring creeks have runs and riffles, and in rare cases pocket
water sections, it is possible to catch trout on attractor flies during periods of "good"
fishing conditions. Some of them have none of this type of water and some do. For
example, sections of Penn Creek have a few runs and riffles, and even some
sections of pocket water. In those areas where the water is moving fast, trout can
easily be fooled with attractor flies during "good" conditions just as well as they can
in the small streams of the Smokies during "good" fishing conditions.
If you eliminate the stockers and assume conditions are at least fair, you
will find that the degree of difficulty in catching the trout on a fly depends
on the speed and clarity of the water, not whether the stream is in New
Mexico or New Jersey. I've already mentioned that catching recently stocked
trout isn't difficult anywhere in any type of water. With that exception, it doesn't
matter if it is a spring creek, tailwater or freestone stream, if the water is clear and
moving slow the trout are not easily fooled with attractor or impressionistic type flies
and anything less than perfect presentations. Blind casting usually just results in
spooking a lot of trout, not hooking them. If the water is moving fast and conditions
are prime, catching trout is fairly easy. Just tie on something made of feathers and
hair that will give the hungry trout the impression its an insect or other critter worth
eating, stay hidden from the trout and get a good drift. The single biggest decision
you may need to make is whether to fish on or below the surface. Often, that
doesn't matter. You can catch them both ways.
The problem becomes, how do you catch them in the fast water when conditions
aren't prime, or more commonly stated, when the fish'in isn't quote "good"? If you
only fish the small, freestone streams of the Smokies; the fast, rough water of
tailwaters; and the rare fast water sections of spring creeks, during times when
conditions are prime (fishing is good), then you don't need to read past this point.
Tie on a Royal Wulff, wait until the fish are biting good and head to the creek.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, if you would like to be able to
catch trout in water that is fast or slow, flowing rough or smooth, in freestone
streams, tailwaters and spring creeks, during times when the fishing is great,
average and poor, then you are going to have to progress beyond the first grade.
Now that may seem a little insulting to some of you. Please understand that I don't
intend it to be taken that way. I am only trying to point out that when you are only
able to catch trout from the riffles and runs of fast moving water during the times
when the stream levels are perfect, the water temperature is optimum, and there is
a large variety of food in the water for the trout to eat, you haven't learned very
There are people that are quick to tell you that you should go fishing in the Smokies
"now" - the fishing is great. They may say the fishing is average and you should do
well. Other times they may say fishing is fair but you probably want catch many.
Occasionally they may say that the fishing is poor but you can always enjoy being
outdoors. That should tell you first and foremost that they haven't passed the
second grade of trout fishing school themselves. In fact, they probably haven't even
been fishing recently. In fact, they may have not been fishing in the same streams
they are providing their professional opinion on in months or even years.
The trout are out there in the water every day of the year. They can be caught
anytime on any day of the year. They can be caught in the fast, rough pocket water
when conditions aren't exactly good. They can be caught in smooth flowing, gin
clear water in any type of stream that supports them. The fun and enjoyment of it
should be in the challenge of being able to fool them into taking your fly,
irrespective of how easy or how difficult it is. Theres a lot more to fly
fishing for trout than just "catching" fish. There are ways to entice a nice size
wild rainbow or brown trout into taking you fly, even when it is raining and the
streams are rising like they are doing right now in the Smokies at 7:00 AM in the
morning. The sights and sounds of beautiful, freestone streams of the Smokies
don't exactly flow through most people's office or backyard. Theres a lot of value in
just being on the stream.
Now that I have explained exactly where we were and what we faced a nine or ten
years ago in our learning process (thats, by the way, still in progress), I will see if
what we learned will help those who want to be able to catch trout whenever they
have the opportunity to go. Those who are only interested in hooking and reeling in
a lot of trout, can easily do that by visiting any of the "Delayed Harvest" streams.
Now there is nothing wrong with that. We have fished plenty of them. I am just
pointing out that after we wanted to progress beyond catching trout in fast pocked
water under prime conditions, delayed harvest waters, etc., we knew we had to
learn a lot more about the trout and the food they survive on. We wanted to be able
to catch trout anytime, anyplace and anywhere. We wanted to be able to catch trout
when the fishing was "poor". We wanted to catch trout from the most difficult to fish
streams in the nation even when the fishing was "bad". We learned to do that quite
well. We just haven't learned to do it as often and as well as we would like to.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh