Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Black Winter Stoneflies
3. Quill Gordon Mayflies
4. Blue Quill Mayflies
5. Little Brown Stoneflies
6. Little Black Caddis (American Grannoms)
7. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Fly Fishing Tailwaters - Part 3
I often refer to tailwaters as "part time" trout streams because that is exactly what
many of them are. If the flood gates are open on a TVA dam, I doubt there will be
any wading going on downstream. I'm mentioning this not to degrade tailwater
fisheries but to remind everyone that it is imperative the releases be considered
before you head out the door to the stream. In the Eastern U. S. that is usually not a
problem because the release information is usually quite accurate and is almost
One of my favorite trout streams, along with everyone else, is the Madison River
outside of Yellowstone National Park. Information is not only available for the
discharges from the dam that forms Hebgen Lake, it is usually very good information
during the entire fishing season. The flows are rarely too high to fish. In fact, they
are so well controlled than half the people fishing the Madison River don't even
realize they are fishing a tailwater. The locals don't like the Madison referred to as a
tailwater, but in fact it's a tailwater. One of the oldest and largest fly fishing
magazines in the nation, allowed an author to write a feature article about the
Madison River that directly referred to it as a freestone stream. That should tell you
just how much you can rely on information from magazines. They were far more
interested in getting the names of the advertisers correct than the information about
the Madison River tailwater. On the other hand, the South Fork of the Snake River,
another good tailwater stream not far from the Madison doesn't even have a release
schedule. They let the water go when ever the farmers need it.
I mentioned "delayed harvest" programs in yesterday's article. If I am not mistaken,
this program originated in North Carolina to provide anglers a period of catch and
release fun by delaying the harvest of stocked trout. Although this program doesn't
have to be set up for a tailwater, most of the time it is. The program has been so
successful other states are using it to improve their trout fishing.
In the last two articles, I also mentioned that all of the tailwaters within a half days
drive of the Smokies are stocked. This means different things to different anglers. I
once had a guy offer me his summer home on the White River in Arkansas for a
week. He was so excited about Angie and I coming, he sent us the stocking
schedule for the river. Little did he know that I could care less about it. To him, that
meant everything. I couldn't possible hurt his feelings or degrade his attempt to help
in any way because that would be the wrong thing to do. Any trout stream should be
for the enjoyment of the anglers that fish it. Different anglers have different ideas of
what constitutes a good trout stream.
A few years ago, I drove through the park from Gatlinburg to Cherokee on beautiful
fall day when fishing conditions were ideal without seeing the first angler fishing or
even seeing a vehicle parked along the Little Pigeon, Walkers Camp Prong or
Oconaluftee River that I thought belonged to an angler. We wanted to check out the
delayed harvest fishing on the Tuckasegee River we had been hearing about.
When we arrived, we couldn't find a parking place along the road that borders the
river. There were about a dozen anglers in sight in each direction you looked
anywhere along the stream. Everyone was catching trout and everyone was having
a good time. Now this is beginning to sound like I am a big fan of stocked trout
fishing and I am not. I'm just pointing out that what I and many of you consider a
good trout stream isn't necessarily what other anglers consider a good trout stream.
Now that I have mentioned that, I want to point out that there can be huge
differences in stocked trout. One that has been in a stream for a couple of years is
a completely different trout than one just released from a hatchery truck. One
released in a stream as a small fry or minnow, will grow up to be a completely
different trout than a trout the same size that was just released. I am not saying that
stocked trout become the same as the wild ones after they have been in a stream
for a while because they don't. I am just pointing out the variables.
Those of you that are new to fly fishing for trout may not have any idea what I am
writing about or of the difference in stocked, wild and native trout. If so, this may be
of help you.
I will continue with tailwaters tomorrow.