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
11. Crane Flies
13. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
The Learning Process - Part 82
I hope you have been following this series at least since October 8th, otherwise, this article won't
serve its purpose near as well.
The first trip we took to the Smokies that third year of fly fishing for trout gave us a
good idea of most of the aquatic insects that were in the streams of the Smokies,
except for those in the higher elevations not commonly found in the lower streams. I
haven't mentioned that trip yet, because the main purpose of it was to see the
Smokies with a snow on the ground. However, after that excitement had subsided,
we collected samples of aquatic insects.
At that time we were still in the causal insect mode. This was before our March trip
when we devoted at least half of our time to collecting insects. Without looking up
the tape log dates, I think it was late January or either early February. We made it
over to Abrams Creek with Ian and Charity Rutter in their 4 wheel drive vehicle
where we took video of several of aquatic creatures around the bridge near the
parking lot. Ian was very helpful in showing us the many insects in the upper spring
creek part of the stream. He also showed us how you could catch trout in the
extreme cold weather by getting in the creek with about 8 inches of snow on the
ground and catching a rainbow within just a few minutes.
There were lots of net- spinning caddis, later determined to be Cinnamon and Little
Sister Caddis, and also a lot of free living caddis larvae, later determined to be
Green Rock Worms, or the larva of the Green Sedges. One of the most interesting
of them all were the little chimney cased caddisflies. We took video of the larvae
dragging their neat little cases around with them not only in Abrams Creek, but at
several places in Little River. Everywhere we stopped, we could find these neat
creatures. When we stopped moving and just looked at them for awhile, they would
stick their heads and six legs out the big end of the chimney cases and crawl
around amazingly fast. What we didn't know at the time, were they were getting
ready to change to their pupa stage of life and hatch.
These later were identified to be what most eastern anglers call Little Black Caddis.
In the West they call them Grannom Caddis, and refer to the hatch as the Mother's
Day Hatch. They are species of the Brachycentrus genus that are all very easily
identified by their unique chimney shaped cases. One species of them that hatches
in the Northeast is called Apple Caddis because their bodies are the color of green
If you read yesterday's article, you are aware that we spent April of that year in
Colorado fishing the Mothers's Day Hatch, mainly on the Arkansas River, but also
on several other streams. In Colorado, and much of the Western United States, this
hatch is one of, if not the most important caddisfly hatch of the year. In the
Arkansas River, it is the most important and most fished hatch of any insect for the
entire year. What we couldn't understand was why it wasn't important in the
Smokies. We rarely hear it as much as mentioned, even though these caddisflies
exist in very good quantities in almost all the streams in the park.
One obvious reason is the fact they hatch near the same time the Quill Gordons
and Blue Quills hatch. They are much more predictable. When their larvae change
into pupae, a stage of life that prepares them to hatch into flying insects, they can't
just stop and wait to hatch. They are going to hatch. The process can be delayed
up until that point, but not after it occurs. What this means is that they sometimes
hatch before the Quill Gordons/Blue Quills and sometimes they hatch about the
same time, depending on the weather. We have seen them hatch before the water
reaches fifty degrees.
I am very aware that 90% of the anglers don't recognize a caddisfly hatch until it is
too late to do them much good, but what I don't understand is why this one isn't
recognized. These caddisflies hatch almost the same way most mayflies hatch. First
of all, they hatch during the day (not at night like many caddisflies) in the warmest
part of the afternoon. They also hatch mid-stream. That means out in the water.
They don't crawl out of the water on the banks, plant stems and rocks to hatch like
many caddisflies. They also deposit their eggs during the day. In fact, adults from
previous day hatches usually start laying their eggs near the end of the current
day's hatch, giving you two opportunities to catch trout feeding on them. Best of all,
they do it on the surface unlike many caddisflies that dive, drop their eggs from the
air, or crawl into the water to paste them on the bottom.
I want repeat the details of how to fish the hatch. I have written about this before.
Article One Article Two Article Three What I will say is that each year since the
Colorado trip, we have caught as many or more trout from the Little Black Caddis
hatch as we have from the Quill Gordon or Blue Quill hatch. There have been many
days we have done that when other anglers were not catching anything but doing
plenty of talking about the Quill Gordon hatch that was going to occur any day.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh