Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Black Winter Stoneflies
3. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
Early Season Strategies:
I received some email during the past few days asking various questions about the
flies I recommended a couple of days ago and general questions like which fly to
use first, second, etc. I decided to try to come up with some common sceneries that
you may run into during the month of March and describe how I would try to handle
For now, the water is still very cold and few insects are hatching, if any. That will
change in the very near future, or by this weekend. I hope they don't keep
extending the bad weather forecast. Two days ago, the front was to move through
and the weather clear by Thursday. That has been moved until Friday according to
the latest forecast. But lets assume that weather clears and warms up some for this
weekend and I think it will. Lets also assume you start fishing in the morning, say at
9:00. Many anglers don't but I would if I had the time because dark still comes rather
early and you don't have that much time to fish if you don't get a early start.
The odds are that you want see anything hatching at that time. You may see a few
Little Brown Stoneflies (some are very dark brown or almost black) that hatched
during the night or afternoon before. It is also possible to find some snowflies, or
Little Winter Stoneflies along the banks but don't let that fool you. Until you see
either of these stoneflies laying eggs on the surface of the water, just ignore them.
Trout can't eat them on the banks. They don't hatch in the mornings, so fishing a
stonefly nymph doesn't provide the highest odds at the time of day.
We know the first mayflies to hatch will be the Blue-winged Olives, Quill Gordons
and Blue Quills. We know the first caddisflies will be the Little Black Caddis or
Grannom caddis. Neither of these will start hatching until early afternoon, or the
warmest part of the day. They hatch close to the same time. If you happen to see
one, ignore it because it hatched the day before. What you do need to decide is
which of those four insects would be most available for the trout in their nymphal
form, of course. Trial and error is the best procedure. I would start with a Quill
Gordon Nymph. It should be fished in the pockets behind the big rocks and
boulders. I want go into the details of how to fish this. I have already done that.
Review the recent articles and you will find it, or go to our Perfect Fly website and
you will find information on how to fish the various stages of life for all the insects. It
isn't specific for the Smokies, so you are better finding the recent articles on these
insects on this website. All have been written this year.
Fish the Quill Gordon imitation in the calm part of the pockets for an hour or so. If
you don't have any success, change to a Blue Quill Nymph. You will fish it in entirely
different water as I have described in previous articles. This amounts to the
shallower water in calm pockets mostly along the banks, not in the fast current. You
will have to make longer cast to these areas than you were fishing the Quill Gordon
Nymphs. You don't want to spook any trout in the areas where the Blue Quills hatch.
You can change to the Blue-winged Olive nymph if you would like. You fish it in the
same type of water as the Blue Quill Nymphs.
If you don't get any action by 2:00 PM, you have been fishing some very poor water
or fishing the wrong way somehow. You should catch some trout, even if these
insects are not yet hatching. They should have moved to these areas of water to
hatch. Forget the caddis, by the way, until you start to see some hatching. This also
takes place in the warmest part of the day. Trout want eat them until the hatch starts.
Tomorrow, I will go into what changes to make if you do see any of them hatching in
the warm part of the day, and what to do if you don't. Again, this is not very good
information, if and unless you know how to fish these nymphs I have mentioned.
Fishing them anywhere may catch a trout here and there, but far better odds exist if
you fish them correctly in the right places in the streams. By the way, forget a strike
indicator for these if you possible can. It will lower you odds. You want the nymphs
on the bottom all the time. Here again, you may catch some with an indicator, but in
this situation, it is lowering your odds (assuming you can fish without one correctly).