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 - Part 3
It is difficult to write about bugs hatching when there is snow on the ground and in
the forecast for today. I have to look at the forecast to make myself believe that will
change fast starting tomorrow. Of course there is a tremendous amount of snow in
the park that has to melt. This will slow down the warming process and continue to
keep the water cold, especially where the watersheds drain the highest peaks in the
park. For example, I will assure you it will keep the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon
River cold for a while. We will have the Southern Runoff I predicted because of the
rapid warmup in the air temperatures. The high Saturday should be around 53 at
Gatlinburg with a high Sunday of 58 and 61 for Monday. If that forecast holds up,
there will be a lot of cold water draining off the slopes. That will create a very
deceptive situation this weekend. If you don't stick a thermometer in the water, you
may think it is April.
I captured some Blue Quill nymphs yesterday that were almost flies. Some appeared
to have their wing pads cracked. I didn't wade out and check the Quill Gordon
nymphs but I will assure you they are in the same situation. They are ready to
hatch. If the forecast holds up, you will probably see some large hatches occur
rather than the typical ones we get in the Smokies. The weather normally bounces
back and forth from cold to warm and keeps the hatches irregular. Whenever the
water temperature in a certain area of the streams reach the point they begin to
hatch, they will continue to hatch even if the water temperature drops back down
again. Those upstream of that would normally hatch a day or two later, will be
delayed when this happens. This causes hatches to occur in one part of the stream
and appear to skip a few days before the same hatch occurs in a different part of
the stream. This is probably far more information than anyone needs. It it interesting
to me because this causes anglers to give all types of reports on the hatches each
year. In other words, they vary greatly but are probably accurate.
I have rambled off into subjects I didn't intend to get into, so I will get back to
another scenario following my previous articles. Lets assume some Quill Gordons
come off the water about 2:00 PM where you are fishing in our hypothetical
situation. As soon as you see this, put on a wet fly (hopefully our "Perfect Fly"
Emerging Dun) and fish it in the current seams created by the pockets behind the
large rocks and boulders. Get it to the bottom before the drift starts. That will
produce if they are hatching and you fish it properly.
If you see any of the mayflies being eaten on the surface, you may want to switch to
the dun imitation, or dry fly. When the hatch first begins, it is usually not that
effective to fish on the surface. With the warming trend we should have, they will
hatch fairly quickly though. I would expect there will be some trout caught on the
surface by the middle to the end of next week for sure.
When the hatch ends, I suggest you swap back to a Quill Gordon nymph imitation
and continue to fish it in the pockets. I would do this up until as late as it is legal to
fish in the park, keeping a eye out for any Quill Gordon Spinners. If you see any
spinners (you will if the hatch has been occurring for over a day or two), switch to an
imitation of the spinner. If you catch the spinner fall just right, you may catch several
trout in a few minutes.