11/29/09
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives
2.   Great Brown Autumn Sedge
3.   Little Yellow Quills
4.   Needle Stoneflies
5.   Crane Flies
6.   Hellgrammite
7.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
8.   Midges

Stream and Lake Destinations - Henry's Fork of the Snake River,
Idaho
The Henry's Fork of the Snake River is without a doubt the most complex trout
stream in the World. You could call it a spring creek or a tailwater and be correct. It
also gets much of its water from freestone tributaries such as the Falls River. It has
just about every type of water that exist including smooth flowing, spring creek like
water; the fast moving pocket water of its two canyon sections; and sections that
are more like a large freestone stream with long riffles, runs and large pools. Its
water chemistry is affected by the large lakes it flows through and springs, including
the one that starts the river, those above Henry's Lake, those from the Warm River,
the Buffalo River and those that filter in throughout much of its entire length.

Its trout differ from most other trout streams in that they are all wild and they are
big. Twenty inch rainbows are not uncommon. Sixteen inch ones are average. The
lower part of the river has huge brown trout that have gone over thirty inches. The
upper parts of its tributaries have brook and cutthroat trout. It is one of the few trout
streams I know of where you can catch a twenty inch rainbow trout on a tiny dry fly.

The biggest difference is the way and manner the trout must be caught. In the
canyon sections you may be using large stonefly nymphs or big streamers. The
trout seem to feed totally opportunistic at times. In the Harriman State Park area,
the large rainbows will test your skills to the utmost and almost always feed
selectively. Many anglers praise this river as being
the very best trout stream in
the United States
and many refuse to fish it. Angie and I both agree, it is certainly
among the very best trout streams there are. As I said in the opening sentence, it is
certainly the most complex stream we know of. It is certainly in the top few on our list
of favorite streams.

Basics of Fly Fishing: New Trout Food "Top X Series"

One of the toughest subjects to deal with in all of the sport of fly fishing for trout,
especially for beginning anglers, is the food that trout survive on and how you go
about fooling trout with imitations of the food they eat we call trout flies. It is
considered tough enough that many anglers never get close to understanding its
importance, much less in mastering it. It intimidates many anglers to the point they
never attempt to learn anything about it. This is sad, because it shouldn't.

We have seen men and women that call themselves "guides" fake their way around
the subject, just throwing out the names of enough insects to fool their clients into
thinking they know something about aquatic insects. We have seen guides that
contend it isn't important to know anything about what the trout eat - that all you
need is a few of their favorite flies they furnish and even tie on for you to fish. We
have also seen a very few guides that were knowledgeable about what trout eat.

We could
repeat the same thing about typical fly shop owners and sales people.

We could
repeat the same thing about the typical angler that fly fishes for trout.  

The extent of importance of the subject depends on many things. One of the very
first things that confuses the importance of the subject are stocked trout. Stocked
trout, especially newly stocked ones, are not used to eating insects and other food
items such as crustaceans and marine species of food found in trout streams. They
are used to being fed at a hatchery. Even those stocked trout that have held over
for a year and survived on the food provided by nature are not as selective as wild
or native trout. When anglers catch these trout with ease using their favorite fly or
one selected from their fly boxes at random,
it fools them into thinking the
subject of trout food isn't important.

Another thing that greatly confuses the importance of the subject of trout food are
wild trout that can be caught under ideal conditions in fast moving, pocket water.
When there's only a split second for a wild trout to examine a fly, it can be fooled
much easier than it can when it has time to examine the fly. For example, the large,
wild rainbow trout in the Box and Cardiac Canyon sections of the stream featured
above, the Henry's Fork, will take a large, Zonker Streamer for a baitfish when it
passes by them in the fast, turbulent water of the canyon. On the other hand, you
could fish the same fly a short ways downstream in the smooth flowing water in the
flats of the State Park in the same stream for days without getting the first rainbow
trout to touch it. By the same token, when the Salmonflies are starting to hatch, the
same rainbow trout in the Box or Cardiac Canyons would probably refuse any fly
you used in the fast water that didn't look and act a lot like a salmonfly nymph. The
same trout that were feeding opportunistically, start feed selectively when enough
of any one food item is available. This fact doesn't occur because the trout prefer
the stoneflies over other foods. It occurs because the trout can easily concentrate
and focus entirely on intercepting the large nymphs, crawling across the bottom of
the stream to the banks to crawl out of the water to hatch.

In this scenario, you should be able to see where and why an angler that knows
nothing about the food trout eat can catch large wild rainbow trout at certain times
and places, even in a river normally considered difficult to fish. The problem is, the
same angler will most likely fail to catch one trout fishing the other 98% of the river
day in and day out.
So everyone has a choice. They can be a mediocre angler,
guide or fly shop salesman and know nothing about the food trout eat, or they can
learn all about it and call themselves a good angler, guide or fly shop salesman.

Starting tomorrow, for the next few weeks in order that we can get ahead of the
upcoming early fishing season in the Smokies, I will be approaching the subject of
trout food in a completely different, easy to understand and easy to follow manner.
I'm calling it the
Top X Series.

Continued tomorrow ............

Copyright 2009 James Marsh