11/12/09
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives
2.   Great Brown Autumn Sedge
3.   Slate Drakes
4.   Little Yellow Quills
5.   Needle Stoneflies
6.   Crane Flies
7.   Helligramite
8.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
9.   Midges

Current Stream Conditions in the Smokies:
Yesterday morning, the local weather TV stations were forecasting the rain would
stop by noon. In Pigeon Forge, it did right the opposite and rained steady and
slowly all afternoon and on into the night. The Little Pigeon River was still very high
and out of its banks near dark. You can check
this site to see what rainfall amounts
were added to the park, but it will probably be later in the morning before the
information is posted.

The streams are dropping rather fast, at least from their very high levels. There
should be no more rain for a few days and the weather should be very nice through
the weekend. I'm sure someone could find a place to fish. It's always possible to fish
and always possible to catch them. I'm certain some will be caught this weekend.
Would I recommend someone travel a good distance to fish the Smokies this
weekend? No, probably not, unless someone just enjoyed chunking streamers and
fishing isolated areas of the streams. It is possible to catch a nice size brown trout.
You can keep a check on these USGS Real Time levels and that will give you a
good idea of what to expect.

This is the
Cataloochee Stream Levels

This is the Oconaluftee Stream Levels

This is the  Little River Stream Levels

Stream and Lake Destinations - Lake Tanneycomo (Table Rock
Tailwater)
We got a very good response from the new stream destination mentioned and
linked to our Perfect Fly website in yesterday's article, so I will mention another one
-
(Lake Tanneycomo/Table Rock Tailwater), you may also find interesting. Be sure
and check out the pages linked at the bottom of the main page.

We sure found this stream/lake interesting the first time we fished it. I cannot find a
consistent name or way to refer to this trout fishery. Even the locals have different
names for it. Defining what is "river" and what is a "lake" in this case isn't easy. The
tailwater is mostly like any other tailwater except it only flows a short distance before
it slows down and become a cold water lake. Before the Table Rock Dam was built,
Tanneycomo was a warm water lake. The construction of the Table Rock Dam on
the White River, changed that. Large trout can be caught in both the tailwater and
the lake, but you are really limited to the area below the dam fishing a fly.

This stream is located almost smack in the middle of a popular tourist area. I get
telephone calls from "pest", for lack of a better word, offering free trips to Branson,
Missouri, or Pigeon Forge about every week. You probably do also. I usually talk to
the ones about Pigeon Forge and after I have waisted ten minutes of both of our
time, I let them know I live in Pigeon Forge. I thought that may convince them to
remove my number form the list but it doesn't work. I'm not knocking Branson. It is a
place many enjoy visiting. Angie and I have been there on three different occasions
but not for the normal reasons. We stopped by to fish the tailwater of Table Rock
Lake.

I had fished Table Rock Lake for bass a couple of times years ago, but not the
tailwater. The first time we stopped to fish this river, Angie was wading about knee
deep just off the bank when it seemed she attracted some large trout. The water
was rolling along rather fast and I was worried about her wading any deeper. I was
looking at her legs in the water through the video camera zoom lens when I spotted
a very large brown trout less than ten feet from her. I yelled at her to let her know
there were fish all around her but she had already spotted them and was afraid to
yell back. I haven't been able to get her to not worry about yelling in the water. She  
seems to be afraid it will scare the trout although she knows better.

She changed flies (nymphs) several times and drifted the fly through the big trout
several times, but they completely ignored them all. That is the one and only time
we have seen that fish around our feet situation occur there, but we have talked to
many locals that regularly see large browns near their feet wading this stream. We
have seen the exact same thing in the San Juan tailwater in New Mexico.
Tanneycomo is a very interesting late-stream that produces some very large trout,
just a round the corner from a very busy tourist area.

Basics of Fly Fishing:
Fly Lines - Part 4
Yesterday, we begin to get into fly line tappers, the first of which was the weight
forward taper. There are some others you need to become familiar with, if for no
other reason, just to understand they exist so you don't confuse them with what you
probably need to use. Again, the most common taper is the weight forward fly line.

The double tapered fly line has lost popularity over the last few years but is still
used by many anglers. The first few feet of the line is not very different from the
weight forward fly line. It starts out skinny and gets larger in width and increases in
weight towards the middle of the fly line for the first few feet. The other end of the fly
line does the same thing. The idea was to be able to switch ends of the line on the
fly reel when one end wore out or became damaged. It also has a long thick (and
heavier) middle section that makes it easier to make certain type cast such as a roll
cast. Whereas a weight forward fly line has only a few feet of the thicker, heavy  
section, the double tapered fly line has the entire length of the line except for the
ends of it made thicker.

For example, a 90 foot double tapered fly line may have the first fifteen feet start
out small and gradually increase in thickness and weight to the end of the 15 foot
tapered part and then stay thick and heavy until it gets to the other end of the fly
line which gradually decreases in thickness and weight the last 15 feet. That means
60 feet of the fly line is the thick (has the largest diameter) part.

Some anglers like the way the light tapered end land lightly on the water with little
disturbance. Others like being able to double the life of the fly line by using both
ends. Others just like having more of the level part of the line of a thicker, heavier
weight. Of course, all of this also depends on the particular manufacturer of the fly
line and thier specific tapers.

My suggestion, is that
if you are just starting out, use a weight forward fly line.

Notes On the High Water Levels:
Yesterday, my good friend Jerry Maslar called from Trout University to ask my
opinion about some things. I hate it's happening, but he is probably figuring out that
I don't know everything about trout fishing. He asked what affect this high water was
going to have on the spawning brook trout and the spawning brown trout. Then, he
asked if in fact they were still spawning. I knew the answer to part two. "Yes", I
replied, "plenty of both species are smack in the middle of their spawning cycle". He
mentioned he thought the spawn may be ending since it started in October. I
explained that my experience during the last few years had shown that they started
migrating upstream in October, and anglers spotting them call them spawners, but
that the actual egg hatching process didn't normally get into full swing until
November and that it could go on until early December. Many conditions, all subject
to changes, are involved with it and there are no exact dates you can put on it.

What I don't know, and can only guess about  or speculate on, is how much
damage will be done to the overall reproduction of the trout. My gut feeling is that
the brook trout will fair far better than the brown trout. God put the brook trout here.
They have seen far worse situations in past years and I'm sure they will continue to
make it just fine, although they will be affected to some extent for certain. Man put
the brown trout in the streams outside of the Smokies not a heck of a long time
ago(which is the same thing as putting them in the streams of the Smokies) and
they may will be affected adversely. They were recently affected in a bad way from
the drought conditions. The larger fish had a tougher time surviving, especially
those in the streams of the lower (warmer) elevations, which are mostly brown trout.
This is almost like a double whammy for the brown trout.

I advised Jerry to call the fishery management folks at the park. I feel certain they
have done stream samples (shocked some sections of the streams and measured
the population, sizes, etc.) after high water periods before. They should be able to
answer that question based on previous documentation. That would beat my
guessing. Of course they probably want know any details about this situation for a
few months but previous survey data following high water conditions should
certainly help.  

I can say that I am not really worried about it. I am not one of those that pay much
attention to populations of trout. I catch about as many from streams with
populations as high as 5000 trout a mile as I catch from streams with a third that
many trout. How many there are, isn't the determining factor. There will be enough
left to see your fly often enough (or you, or maybe both you and your fly).   
Copyright 2009 James Marsh