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.