04/15/10
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.   Hendricksons and Red Quills
8.   Little Short Horned Sedges
9.   Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
10  Midges

American March Browns - Nymph
The American March Brown nymph is only valuable to any great extent just prior to
the hatch. When they near the start of their hatch, the nymphs move from
underneath the rocks on the bottom of the fast water runs and riffles, into the slower
water on the outside of the current seams formed by the fast water. If the nymphs
didn't do this, they would end up a mile downstream of where they had spent their
entire life by the time they became duns. This is usually the pockets but it can be
any water that is flowing moderately to slow that is immediately adjacent to the fast
water.

Depending on the weather and the changes in water temperature, the nymphs can
remain in these type of areas for a week or two before hatching. On one occasion, I
remember catching over twenty of them with a small kick net in such a place. All of
them had their wing pads about to explode. The problem is this doesn't usually
occur that way. That is the only concentration of March Brown nymphs about to
emerge I have discovered in hundreds of nymph catching kick net undertakings in
the Smokies. I went back to that same spot for the next three days to fish and didn't
see over three duns that had hatched on either day. I went back a week later and
found only one dun. I don't know what it is exactly that spreads this hatch out so
long. I also can't figure out why they don't seem to hatch at any one time during the
day. When there is a lack of concentration of any aquatic insect, the trout become
less and less prone to concentrate in any one area to eat them. That is the case
with the March Browns.

Given the fact that the streams in the Smokies consist mostly of fast, pocket water
and that the trout have little opportunity to get a good look at any insect caught up
in the fast water, you will find the trout eating the emergers and duns only
opportunistically. I have never found a situation in the Smokies where the trout were
feeding selectively on the March Browns except during the spinner fall. Even then,
they are sometimes mixed in with other mayfly spinners.

The good thing is that during the next two months, you will find some other mayflies
that emerge in the same type of water, or the fast water current seams. One is the
Light Cahill which will start hatching soon. I will be covering it shortly.

Most Smoky Mountain anglers, especially those who have fished the streams for a
long time, become stuck in their one-track way of fishing the small streams. They
fish dry flies all Spring, Summer and Fall, only in the fast water runs and riffles,
using short, upstream cast. For this reason, often enough, generic, non-specific
imitations of the insects work provided that's where the real bugs are drifting. This is
why their catches vary so inconsistently. One day they may catch fifty trout and a
week later only two. They justify it all with excuses of changes in weather, water or
anything they can come up with when in reality, it is just not knowing what's
happening and how to deal with it. During those times anyone can catch trout even
using double nymph rigs, dropper rigs and all types of what I call "multiple cane pole
type" methods. These methods work when the clinger mayflies, such as the Eastern
March Browns and Light and Cream Cahills are hatching and this will be happening
fairly consistently for the next couple of months.  

The best procedure to fish the American March Brown nymph imitation is to fish it on
the bottom on the inside of the current seams along the fast water runs and riffles.
This is best done with short, upstream cast. Weight the fly down enough to get it on
the bottom quickly and keep it there through the short drift. Dropping this fly from a
larger dry fly or indicator will catch some trout, but not near as many as fishing it
correctly on the bottom. The "high stickin" nymphing method works great for this but
just short, up and across presentations will also catch trout. This is our
Perfect Fly
March Brown nymph.
Thumbnail: Click to Enlarge
Perfect Fly March Brown Nymph