10/03/09
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives
3.   Little Yellow Stoneflies
4.   Slate Drakes
5.   Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
6.   Little Yellow Quills
7.   Needle Stoneflies
8.   Beetles
9.   Grasshoppers
10. Ants
11. Crane Flies
12. Helligramite
13. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

The Learning Process - Part 70
Yesterday, I went off track from writing about the learning process we went through
a few years ago and wrote about something current. When I first started thinking
about where I left off, and where I should pick back up, I looked at the list of trout
food above to check to see if it was current. It is current, but just reading the list
gave me the feeling it could be a little deceptive in some ways. Of the thirteen items,
four are terrestrial. Like most everyone else dealing with hatch charts in this area of
the country, we show terrestrials can be important until around the first of
November. I used to think it was closer to the first of October until I started noticing
grasshoppers, ants and beetles around the streams, even after we received our
first frost here in the Smokies.  

What caught me eye at the time I began to write this article, was two completely
different things. First of all, I thought about just how important terrestrial insects
would be during the month of October. When I thought of the recent rains, I pictured
many beetles and ants being washed into the streams from higher than normal
water. When I though about an average day (if there is such a thing), it occurred to
me that terrestrial insects probably don't account for five percent of the trout's diet
at this time of year. It sounds good to say the trout are eating them but the facts are
the trout see and eat very few terrestrial insects this time of the year unless
something like high winds or water causes a lot of them to get into the water.

Two of the other items on the list are shown to hatch in isolated locations. That want
be true of the blue-winged olives for long, so I changed them to "hatching" instead
of "hatching in isolated locations". I also changed the type of them from Little
Blue-winged Olives to just Blue-winged Olives because the larger size
baetis
species will start to hatch soon.

One item on the list is streamers, which means imitations of non-aquatic insect
items like crustaceans, baitfish and sculpin. That's certainly a part of their normal
food but that is true of every day of the year.

While the Dobsenfly larvae (helligramites) are listed, they tend to exist in slower to
moderate flowing water, and in areas where the water gets warmer than the trout
prefer in most cases. You will find far more of them in what would be considered
smallmouth bass water.

Then there are the Slate Drakes. Sure - the trout eat the nymphs and spinners, but
most of them have hatched for the year and those that haven't, will hatch at
completely unpredictable times.

Then there are the Yellow Sallies, or Little Yellow Stoneflies. There is one group of
them that hatches at this time of year, but nothing like what we are used to seeing
in the Spring and early Summer.

There are two insects listed above, one of which (Little Yellow Quills) I have never
heard anyone local as much as mention, and the other (Needle Stoneflies) which I
only rarely hear anyone mention. The odd thing is that these insects are as plentiful
as the Fall hatch of the bi-brooded Blue-winged Olives, and in the small brook trout
streams from the upper mid to higher elevations, they are far more plentiful than the
BWOs. In fact, per square yard of the stream, they are as plentiful as most any
aquatic insect in the park.

One thing we learned a few years ago, was the reason you never hear anyone
refer to them is the fact no one knows what they are. Two guys we ran into called
the Needle Stoneflies, caddisflies. The little Yellow Quills are called Light Cahills by
those that notice them. They are
Lecucrocuta hebe (pronounced lou (long u)-crow -
chute-a (short a) - he - be) species. This used to be a part of the
Heptagenia
Group but have been reclassified. Some anglers incorrectly call them Pale Evening
Duns, but that is just another reason common names are worthless.

These are clinger nymphs that exist in very good quantities in the low pH water of
the mid to higher elevation streams. When they first start hatching in late August or
early September, they hatch just about the time it gets dark. At this time of year,
they hatch in the mid-afternoons, provided the weather is cool. They move from the
riffles and runs and hatch in the slow to moderate water of the streams. In the
Smokies that's the little pools in the brook trout streams. The spinners also fall
during the day when the weather is cool like it is now.

We have developed a complete set of flies for each stage of life of the
Little Yellow
Quills. More on these mayflies, the little Needle Stoneflies and the fall baetis hatch
tomorrow. The bottom line is, these three insects are what you need to be imitating
now, not the terrestrials. If we have high winds and heavy rainfall, then the
terrestrials may again become important.

Copyright 2009 James Marsh