07/24/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Little Sister Caddisflies (Abrams Creek)
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies - Summer Stones
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Cream Cahills
6.    Little Green Stoneflies
7.    Ants
8.    Inchworms
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Hellgrammite
12.  Cranefly
13.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)


Advice on Fishing Techniques, Strategies and Methods - Part 6

I'm continuing today on brook trout, as promised. I wanted to mention the fact that
authors of most all of the articles and books that have been written about the
Smokies over the past several years have copied one another to the point some
things are completely misleading. One of those things has to do with the amount of
food that brook trout have to eat. I do not know if there was far less food in the small
high elevation streams several years ago than there is now because I didn't do any
research on the streams before 2000. Since then, we have studied hundreds of
samples of insects obtained from these small streams and as I mentioned
yesterday, on the average, there's as much aquatic insect food per square yard of
bottom in these streams as there is in the lower elevation streams. This may have
not been the case several years ago, but it is now. My guess is those statements
came from pure speculation by the authors based on the small size of the brook
trout that have been copied over the years.

The species of insects are quite different from those in the lower elevations. That's
also something I haven't heard or read about. Quite honestly, I don't think anyone
has paid much attention to it or actually knew what they were writing about. We
have found two species of mayflies not even recorded as existing in the park that
are very plentiful in the high elevation streams.

I have researched all the information available from universities that have
conducted studies on the aquatic insects in the Smokies as well as independent
organizations. I haven't found any that were done in the high elevations. All that I
can find were done on streams in the lower elevations. It also may be likely that the
aquatic insect population has changed over the past several years. I know there
has been improvements in the Ph levels and that could have something to do with it.
In general, caddisflies are less plentiful in the high elevations and that's directly
associated with the higher Ph. Most caddisflies are net spinners and algae is in
short supply in the small streams. The mayfly population is good, but different from
the streams in the lower elevations. They are most all clingers with very few crawlers
and swimmers. Stoneflies are very plentiful in the high elevations but again, they
are quite different from those in the lower elevation streams. There's plenty of little
Needle Stoneflies and several species of Little  Yellow Stoneflies along with some
Little Browns.  

The truth is, the small streams probably hold just about as many brook trout as they
possible could. The physical size of the streams and available volume of water
restricts the population just as well as the food supply. As mentioned yesterday,
they have a tendency to overpopulate. The low water caused from the recent
drought situation did in fact lower the aquatic insect population just as well as the
brook trout population but all in all, they faired better than the brown trout or
rainbow trout did in the lower and middle elevation streams. Where the streams
dried up, so to speak, there were thousands upon thousands of insect larvae killed.
They have rebounded fast and as far as we can tell, they have as many aquatic
insects today as we found before the drought.

You also hear and read about the acid that came from the construction of the road
over Newfoundland Gap due to the anakeesta rock. This is something else as old
as the hills that has been copied and copied to the point it is sickening. The streams
along highway 441 hold about as many brook trout as possible. The low Ph level
just doesn't have the effect it is thought to have by many on the brook trout or the
clinger aquatic insects that thrive well in the streams. They do well in the low Ph
water and I suspect that ability has also evolved over the years. I don't know of any
areas of the streams along the road where you cannot catch a dozen brook trout in
a few minutes of fishing. If there is any problem with the population, it is that they
are stunted from an overpopulation in terms of pure water volume, not food.
Rainbow trout exist almost all the way to the top of the streams and they cannot
seem to lower the population of the brook trout enough to affect it to the point you
still cannot catch a large number in a short time. I'm sure if they didn't exist, there
would be far larger brook trout.
One thing for certain is the copy cat authors
need to find some new information to copy.